Sworn Amongst

Severance

Written by: GR on 21/02/2010 21:58:10

Sworn Amongst are a band I've been aware of for a while now, having seen them live in York a few years ago and again in London in 2008, on the "Thrashing Like A Maniac" Euro tour with Gama Bomb and Bonded By Blood. Despite the seemingly obvious categorisation suggested by their place on such a tour, I've never really thought of them as part of the UK thrash scene per se, and they've not made much of an impact within the die-hard thrash community. This might have something to do with the modern bent of last album "And So It Begins", with its use of clean as well as gruff vocals - something that was unlikely to appeal to old-school focussed fans. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover that "Severance", the band's second full-length for Rising Records, is a decidedly old-school influenced slab of heavy thrash metal.

That's not the bouncy, high-tops-and-beer-bongs style of thrash, but a more 'serious' and aggressive slant that benefits from an improved level of technicality and song-writing ability compared to what I've heard of their debut. The album kicks off with the title track and the band get straight to the point with some typically thrashy riffing that shows their knack of changing tempo and rhythm, before any vocals have even been heard. The vocals, provided by frontman Liam Liddell, are a gruff, macho affair for the most part that may put off some (see TL's review of "And So It Begins") but are effective enough in delivering Sworn Amongst's angry anthems. It's the guitar work that provides the real attraction though, the album continuing with a clutch of songs possessing fairly memorable riffs built on a mid-paced, highly melodic style that brings to mind Testament at times. Combining catchy harmonies and vocal hooks that successfully stick in the mind, the band show they know how to construct a decent song and manage to repeat the formula throughout without sounding too repetitive or stale. Definite highlights are the gang-vocal fuelled "Denounced", the grooving "Scratch The Surface" and more ambitious (pushing the six minute mark) "Darkness".

Sworn Amongst's youthful vim comes across in the exuberant lyrics, which sometimes become that little bit too naive and clichéd for my liking. The main point in case is "Exploited (Systematically)" - a memorable song but one with a chorus of "FUCK! YOUR! SYS-TEM!" that is too crude for me to fully enjoy. "Useless" suffers, to a lesser extent, from the same problem. Although to be fair to Liddell, he does screech out the words with enough venom to make for a convincing delivery - there must be someone out there who he really does feel is "fucking useless". There isn't a lot else to report on - the album features solid melodic thrashing with a hint of modernity that is enjoyable but unlikely to set your world on fire. The last third of the album does drop in quality slightly, becoming a blur of pretty generic thrashing lacking the real catchiness of the first part and losing some momentum, but none of the songs are actually bad. Overall "Severance" is a lot better album than I originally gave Sworn Amongst credit for after my initial listen. The band have progressed their abilities in both playing and song-writing and it's this progress that marks the record out as worthy of attention. The band isn't playing in the big leagues yet, but it signals the potential for them to write a truly excellent album in the future.

Download: Denounced, Scratch The Surface, Darkness
For the fans of: Testament, Savage Messiah, Pitiful Reign
Listen: Myspace

Release date 15.02.2009
Rising Records

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