Norwegian hipster operatic metal: Got your attention?
Leprous, the opening act at the House of Blues, Anaheim, sure had mine with lead singer and keyboardist Einar Solberg’s crowd wooing; his Iron Maiden/Radiohead-esque harmonic vocals emanating from the stage. It felt like the band was performing a personal score to the movie of my life.Continue reading →
Opening track ‘Sweetheart’ serves warning of the intent of The Lovers / The Devil (Razor & Tie), second opus from Illinois discordant hardcore act Sworn In. With the success of their debut The Death Card (also Razor & Tie) providing a heightened sense of expectation, ‘Sweetheart’ shows that this time around the quintet are going to be doing things differently as the track eases in with a lilting clean introduction before hitting a dirged repetitive stab slab of guitar with unhinged screaming to take us through to the end. With the album being a concept album about the duality of love, and incorporating, in the main, a duality of styles, it’s an appropriate introduction.
Lyrically, there’s a deliberate juvenility and a picking up where Korn left off with ‘Shoots and Ladders’, with several nursery rhymes being referenced, including songs called ‘Olioliolioxinfree’ and ‘Pocket Full of Posies’, a staggering, lumbering off-kilter rage of screaming over a broken lurch, with elements of Slipknot’s ‘Skin Ticket’ before a juxtaposition of cleaner, angelic singing over the chorus. Tyler Dennen sounds genuinely disturbed (small d) when catharting, but less convincing when hitting the cleans, like on the ineffective ‘I Don’t Really Love You’ which seems to be aiming to be a meld of King 810 and Deftones, but definitely lacks the clarity and single-mindedness of the former, or the epic scope and vocal class of the latter. Burning Down Alaska, for example, show how to mix battery and beauty much more effectively.
Ultimately, The Lovers / The Devil, comes across as a spliced Bioshock experiment, with two different styles being forced together and making uncomfortable bedfellows, and like when Chunk glues the penis back on the statue in The Goonies it’s the wrong way round, Sworn In end up pissing in their own faces as the heavy/screamo bits aren’t interesting enough, despite Dennen’s venom, and the cleans not convincing or catchy enough. ‘Sugar Lips’, first track “proper” is a key example, kicking off showing low-slung quasi-Deathcore discordance with screams and touches of electronica, before hitting a clean metalcore chorus that underwhelms rather than lifts. While there’s nothing wrong with bringing the two styles of rhythmic djent and emo-based-metalcore together, and ambition and experimentation should always be encouraged and lauded, in the main the execution is unskilled and clumsy.