Sound — 7
They may not have been the first, but many will argue that Sworn Enemy was an integral force in the NY hardcore scene. With their short but sweet and innovative debut EP, "Negative Outlook," the hardcore outfit would continue down a steady path of releases throughout the first decade of the new millennium - even having influential metalcore rocker (and now, convicted felon) Tim Lambesis producing their last three records, "The Beginning of the End," "Maniacal" and "Total World Domination." Sworn Enemy would not return to Century Media or Lambesis for their next release (which, in hindsight, was dodging a bullet), and instead, launched a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo in order to fuel the creation of their fifth studio album, and with them being as reputable as they are in the hardcore scene, it was no surprise that they received sufficient funding.
For the fifth time around, Sworn Enemy has whipped up another batch of metalcore songs that offer little difference to the early batches they've made before, and they seem very conscious and comfortable with that. With the Golden-era-metalcore formula being lathered, rinsed, and repeated the entire way, the intrigue throughout the album ebbs and flows: while songs like "Do or Die," "Broken Hope" and "No Apologies" may impress with good lead guitars, active drums, some distinct bass-lines and satisfying (albeit conventional) breakdowns, other songs like "Hard Way" and "Slipping Away" provide meager riffage. The album reaches its apex at the later end, where an admirable stint of thrash inspiration stretches from "No Mercy," "Never Forget" and "Stand and Deliver," which provides some cut-throat riffs, astonishing guitar solos, great drum-work and high-octane energy - though afterwards, the album fails to close on a good note, with the final two songs "Nothing Changes" and "Rise Above" being unimpressionable.
Lyrics — 4
While the choice to stick to the traditional metalcore recipe on the sound aspect can be tolerable, and perhaps appreciated, the choice to stick to the traditional metalcore recipe on the lyrical aspect is easily considered bland and uninspired. The vanilla song titles alone forecast that you'll be experiencing guttural shouts and band-wide chants of always being true to yourself and not letting people bring you down, how hardships breed strength in a person, refusing to tolerate other people's disrespect, and other lyrics that instigate - or rather, encourage - fighting. While it seems weird to chastise some of these positive messages (after all, they're just trying to help), it begs the question: how many times can bands like this get away with saying the same damn thing?
Overall Impression — 6
While "Living on Borrowed Time" may be able to satisfy those with an affinity for this dated style of metalcore or those who just want something to hardcore dance to, Sworn Enemy's choice to stick to their comfort zone and their evident disinterest of evolution or innovation restricts this album from achieving anything really impressive: we've heard this from plenty of other bands before, including Sworn Enemy. Even if this crowd-funded album was meant to strictly appeal to those that wanted classic Sworn Enemy (i.e. those that funded it), the album doesn't bring the band or the genre to a higher level, but rather, keeps things at the plateau: "Living on Borrowed Time" couldn't be any more of an appropriate title for this.