Sound — 8
Hailing from Queens, New York, hardcore act Sworn Enemy proudly helps represent the NYHC image, and after all these years, the band is still hating. Their sound still shows that raw and unfiltered straight to your face hardcore beatdown that has always put exclamation marks on Sworn Enemy's attack. Being from one of the breeding grounds of hardcore, Sworn Enemy definitely takes on those influences in their sound, but this time their instrumentation takes on a lot of thrash, strong melodies, and yes *gasp*... even some shredding guitar solos! This now thrash infused side of Sworn Enemy is new, impressive, and shows their driving force as unstoppable. Plus on the brutal side, the guitar riffs give even more of a brutal punch, and an all around more stable and rewarding approach. Sworn Enemy begins the monstrous stomp with Sell My Soul and prove from the get go that they are still hating, still hardcore, and still sticking to their guns. No really, despite the many line-up changes in Sworn Enemy's history, guitarists Lorenzo Antonucci and Jamie Hunt have really improved all areas of their playing. From their brutality getting even more brutal, their speedy thrash shredding away at the track, and their soaring leads almost in a Slayer/Anthrax way, these guys have really put the [badass stamp] back on Sworn Enemy. Run For Shelter is the perfect example of Sworn Enemy giving its all, and showing their talent. From the beginning brutality that gives the first knockout punch, the numerous guitar solos throughout Run For Shelter are stunning, and leave the listener paying full attention. Plus, the album is co-produced by Tim Lambesis of the As I Lay Dying fame, and the production on this badboy is great. In fact, parts of Total World Domination do have that As I Lay Dying production sound when the chug-a-thons come along. Sworn Enemy has continued to maintain the integrity of their sound, and from sticking to their guns like they have, the band does indeed keep that underground respect, while carrying the hardcore flag until the end.
Lyrics — 8
Vocalist Sal LoCoco screams the vocal lines pretty much like he always has. Though his vocal range may seem to be one-sided, he still knows how to get the point across, and he does it very well. Keeping that in mind, Sal has strengthened his delivery after each release, and Total World Domination is a furious fist pumper the whole way through. The music itself is just so energetic, adrenaline rushing, and powerful, so Sal is plenty pumped up to unleash all of the hell he wants. And he sure does, where on Sell My Soul, Run For Shelter, and Ready To Fight he does it especially well. The main chorus chants of I won't sell my soul! on the album opener, Sell My Soul, shows the anthem driven writing style, freedom of mind, and by all means necessary, the balls to fight back. The lyrics are mostly that tough guy and fearless approach, but thinking of Sworn Enemy, those lyrics fit in perfectly. You never have to think too hard when it comes to the lyrics of a Sworn Enemy song to understand what it means, but whether you like your lyrics with substance or just straight to the point, all should appreciate how well they fit with the music.
Overall Impression — 9
My first impression on Sworn Enemy's latest, Total World Domination was a good one, and the album opener Sell My Soul really let my anticipation for the album speak for itself. There's bound for a big pit from start to finish on Total World Domination, and as the band keeps getting stronger, they also continue to grow heavier. From 2003's straight up hardcore beatdown of As Real As It Gets, to 2005's more metal driven The Beginning Of The End, and 2008's brutal offering of Manical, the band once again leaps forward big with Total World Domination, and they are still hating. As their musical direction continues to strengthen, Sworn Enemy definitely keeps their hardcore roots. Fans of the band, fans of hardcore, and fans of the brutal sound of music in general will have no problem falling in love with this one. Thank you Sworn Enemy for continuing to keep it real!