Sworn In- The Death Card

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, August 26, 2013

Razor & Tie has really built up their metal and hardcore roster in recent years, signing established names like Norma Jean and Shadows Fall while also giving newer bands the chance to break through. One of their newer acts is Illinois based Sworn In, who formed in 2011 and released their debut album The Death Card last week. Although the group follows a lot of the familiar metalcore patterns and still has a few areas that they could improve upon, the sheer amount of aggression and harsher edge to some of the guitar leads makes this a debut worth checking out and Sworn In seems to be one of the newcomers that has real potential.

The Death Card sticks with many of the song patterns that metalcore has been utilizing since the early days, but Sworn In’s instrumentalists are able to pull them together in a way that doesn’t feel like they’re trying to clone one particular band or be trendy. This is an angry, dark album and each of the songs seems to have been written to create the maximum amount of intensity possible. What makes this work so well is that unlike many of the others, these guys have managed to create that intensity and impact without resorting to breakdown after breakdown. That’s not to say there aren’t any breakdowns, as the band has their fair share of them and plenty of chugging to go with it but there is enough happening on this release that the songs don’t all sound exactly the same. However, as you get a little farther into this album what does become clear is that there is a bit too much filler. In addition to the intro track, there are three other songs that are shorter interludes and while they did maintain the same darker feel as the rest of the material it felt like the time could have been better utilized. Especially considering that two of the interludes occur with one normal length song in between them, it dampens the overall impact.

Vocalist Tyler Dennen sticks with a mid-range scream for much of the album, but there are a variety of different pitches added in between his performance. These range from extremely low guttural growls to gang vocals and even some clean singing on a few of the tracks. It’s unclear if someone else is the band takes over some of the pitches, but the variation between Dennen’s aggressive screaming and some of the extremely distorted growls worked really well. I did feel like the clean vocals that Sworn In added in on “Mindless” felt really out of place though, as they weren’t sung poorly but were way too mellow for the dark, angry vibe that the rest of the album was creating. Thankfully it was just limited to that particular track and the rest of the vocal work was absolutely killer. Sometimes I just want to crank up music of this type that’s got plenty of anger and is in your face, and that’s exactly what I got with The Death Card.

Metalcore and hardcore have been genres I don’t listen to quite as often anymore because there are far too many bands offering flashy styles or trendiness over substance. But Sworn In definitely has potential, as they present pure aggression and intensity with some solid riffs to back it up. The Death Card does feel like it has too much filler, but it remains a strong enough album that these guys should be able to make a name for themselves. The best seems like it is still to come though, and I’ll be watching to see if Sworn In can continue moving upward in the future.


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