Sworn Enemy - Maniacal review

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Band: Sworn Enemy
Album: Maniacal
Release date: February 2008

01. Ignorance
02. Time To Rage
03. A Place Of Solace
04. Weather The Storm
05. Destroyer
06. The American Way
07. Fear Of Failure
08. No End To This Nightmare
09. Talk Is Cheap
10. Said And Done

Maniacal can be best be described as a wave; when it has momentum and speed, it crashes into you and sweeps you off your feet, and you find yourself adrift in the swirling torrent of Sworn Enemy's crossover stylings. Once that wave has broken though, the tide goes back out and you find yourself standing in its wake wondering when and if it will return.

That is much my experience with the album; from "Ignorance" to "Destroyer", Sworn Enemy had me enveloped and hooked me in with the aggression of the musicianship, overlooking any shortcomings in the music as it holds your attention. From "The American Way" onwards (no, it's not a Sacred Reich cover before you get excited) the spell is broken, and the flaws become achingly apparent. Probably because I expected "The American Way" to be a cover, I subconsciously judged it against the superior version and the light bulb moment occurred.

The riffs are generic hardcore come thrash, indeed imitations of ones you will have heard before many times; when the band up the intensity it distracts you in its aggression, but once the band slow down like in "Fear Of Failure", it sticks out like a giraffe at a bike shop. Awesome's bass work is at ...And Justice For All levels of audibility; he could be playing his heart out or sitting in the corner of the studio smoking for all you can hear. Lococo's vocals are probably the strong suit of the band; he has a powerful voice that fits perfectly with the aesthetic the band aim for, sounding raw and like he is giving his all.

Maniacal's production is a mixed bag, almost like the contrast between light and dark, for as inaudible as the bass is, the drums are that much too high in the mix. With the tinny snare and annoying ringing cymbals, the drums overshadow the songs and loom large over the rest of the band. The guitars and vocals are well produced, however; both are powerful and clear throughout, and are well positioned in the tracks.

As I mentioned before, the album does have its moments. From "Ignorance" through "Destroyer" there is plenty to enjoy; it's not earth-shattering but it will give you fuel to mosh to, with "Destroyer" featuring probably the best guitar work of the album and "Time To Rage" proving an aptly named song. Sworn Enemy may not be reinventing the wheel anytime soon but they can still take you somewhere fun, though don't expect a return journey as the album runs out of fuel way before then.

Maniacal isn't something I would recommend but I wouldn't necessarily advise against, the album sits just on the wrong side of the road but not far enough that it can't see the lane division markings.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 5
Production: 6

Written by omne metallum | 28.07.2020


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