Sworn Enemy - 02/02/2008

SWORN ENEMY is a crossover metalcore band from New York City, formed in 1997 as Mindset, a product of the extremely expansive and influential New York Hardcore scene. Since its inception the band has centered around vocalist Sal Lococo and guitarist Lorenzo Antonucci. The band played shows anywhere they could, making an incredible name for themselves in a very short time. In 2001 the band released their debut album ‘Negative Outlook’ on Jamey Jasta's Stillborn Records. The record was a brutal mix of old school hardcore punk and new school breakdowns and attitude, and it quickly gained the band attention in the entire hardcore scene. In 2003 the band released ‘As Real As It Gets’, it was clear that the band was expanding their style as the CD featured a large thrash metal influence, as well as abrasive, near-black metal styled vocals on Sal's part. The new style and worldwide distribution led a large number of heavy metal fans to Sworn Enemy, as did tours with bands such as Anthrax.


In early 2006 ‘The Beginning Of The End’ was released on Abacus Records, a division of Century Media focusing on underground metal and hardcore inspired bands. The new record displayed even more thrash influence. The end of 2007 saw the release off ‘Maniacal', co-produced by Tim Lambesis (As I Lay Dying) and Joey Z (Life Of Agony). Lambesis and Z are both taking a very hands-on approach to this album, producing what is sure to be Sworn Enemy's finest work to date. "Maniacal" takes Sworn Enemy to new heights with more of a thrash edge that has a fast bounce to it while relentlessly blasting the listener with thick heaviness that calls to mind a likeness to bands such as Exodus and Testament as well as early Megadeth and Anthrax.


With a new album under their belt the future is looking bright for Sworn Enemy, recently we talked to guitarist and founder Lorenzo Antonucci, so here we go.

Your album 'Maniacal' will be released in a couple of weeks in Europe, so of course we'd like to ask you a couple of questions about it!


First of all, I'm not familiar with your band so could you tell me something about Sworn Enemy ? How did this band get together and could you tell me something about your musical background? 

Lorenzo and Sal formed as a band in 1997, the band was called Mind Set, we played shows as mindset for a good 3 years until we changed our self's Sworn enemy in Late 1999, the 1st EP came out "negative Outlook" on stillborn records in 2000 and from then we toured our asses off. Major musical background: Slayer , Metallica , Cro-Mags , Biohazard , Anthrax , Sick Of It All , Agnostic Front, MadBall , Pantera , ST, D.R.I. ect….

How did you launch into writing the material for this album? Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

We just kept writing riffs we thought were great and kept arranging the music, the writing process was crazy as we had no drummer so there were a lot of ups and downs.


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record 'Maniacal', any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

A lot of thrash feel to the music, we all grew up loving thrash and felt we always had it in our music. We also wanted to write something different from what's popular today.


Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?

Yes, our last album was going in the same direction as Maniacal, We wanted to keep that feel in our music and just wrote naturally. This is the best work for us to date.


What do you think that are the main differences between your previous albums and 'Maniacal'?

A lot more leads and more fast parts, and the lyrics have matured a lot since the last 2 LP's. We are all happy with this record's outcome and can't wait for the people to hear it.


In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to Sworn Enemy? And is there any typical way that a Sworn Enemy song comes into being?

Going crazy while you write your riffs, like if you were ready to go into the pit and mosh. You have to feel it as if you were in the crowed. That's the start of our writing, then everything starts to fall into place.


Is the music written independently of the lyrics or do you try to reflect lyrical ideas through the music?

The music inspires Sal to write lyrics , I don't ever recall  Sal doing it otherwise.


You have a pretty outspoken opinion on society, which is often voiced in your lyrics. How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music? And can you tell me a little more about the lyrics, can you explain for example song title's  like "The American Way" or "Talk Is Cheap".

We try to explain everything we see through our lyrics. It's very important that the people listen to both the music and lyrics because it’s all telling a story that you can take in your own way. “The American Way” is about how greedy and corrupt our government is, the way they lie to you and make you feel you're in a special place. “Talk Is Cheap” is about getting even with somebody that crossed the line and you kept warning him to back off.



About the song writing – how do you work on new songs? What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you wait until you get an idea?

Music comes first , then melodies then lyrics because it's the easiest way to write lyrics when most of the music is done. It's also the best way to record as the lyrics are most likely to be recorded last.


Could you please describe the implications of the title 'Maniacal', what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

When we were in the writing process we felt like animals in a cage and we wanted to break out, the best way to explain our feelings was to say we were Maniacal.


Are there any particular bands that have been a big influence in your song writing, metal or otherwise?

Metallica , Slayer , Faith No More , Madball , Pantera , Biohazard , ANTHRAX , Life Of Agony


Do you have any favorites on 'Maniacal', songs that you think are somehow above the others?

"A Place of Solace" because it's the hardest song ever lol.. and "Weather the Storm" because it's the most we've ever gone musically.


How much time did you spend recording the album and in which studio did it all happen?

It took us three months in total,  writing , pre-production and recording. We recorded in Labesis studios and Method of Groove studio.


The production was done by Tim Lambesis and Joey Z, what made them the perfect producers for 'Maniacal'?

 Tim produced our last record 'The Beginning Of The End', and we said we would always go back to him for that sound and vibe we get working with him.  Joey Z has been one of my favorite guitar players since I was about 15 years old and when I heard he wanted to work with us it was all over. He has a great mind for music.


'Maniacal'  is your second album for Century Media. How did you get a deal with Century Media Records, how is your relationship with them and do you have free reign as a band to do what you want creatively or otherwise, or do they impose any rules on what you do?

We have a great relationship with CM and yes this is our 2nd record with the label and we are very happy to be a part of the family , we get to do what we want musically. Sal met with Robert Kamp one day at The With Full Force fest in Germany and we had no label and from there the sparks started, thank you Robert.


Have you received any feedback on your album yet?

It's the best feedback so far from any of our previous releases, and we know its our best album to date.



Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?

Everybody’s opinion matters because without our fans we wouldn't be able to continue touring and selling records and without the press the fans wouldn’t know about what’s going on us with us. We write from our heart but have to please everybody we can.


Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?

Not at all save it for the next album….


How would you describe your own music and what are your musical influences?

We are fast and heavy with lots of grooves, and lots of breakdowns.


The metalcore scene or as we say 'The New Wave Of American Heavy Metal' in general exploded in the last four or five years in the United States, hundreds of bands seem to have popped up. So what is the difference between Sworn Enemy and other bands in this scene?

First of all, we're not anything like a metalcore band, 2nd of all we were here before the wave of metalcore at least 2 years prior, there is always a wave of music where bands just start to pop up. Look at the death core scene.


What is your opinion on the 'metalcore' scene these days, what do you think about the overload of this kind of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the scene?

It's dying out if you ask me, the only bands still with somewhat of that sound are As I Lay Dying and Unearth. Those are bands who hold the crown, and they will remain to do so.


With all the touring and over five albums under your belt, how far has Sworn Enemy surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?

We've been around the world and played for amazing different cultures and that's all I can say because I’m broke… hahahahaha.


How do you see the future for Sworn Enemy, what can we expect after this year and do you think, for instance, that the band will still exist five or ten years from now?

As long we still can go on stage nothing can stop us….


Is there anything left unmentioned? Any last statement?

Go and buy our new record ‘Maniacal’ , it’s worth your time and please support Sworn Enemy.


Lorenzo Antonucci




Sal LoCoco - Vocals

Lorenzo Antonucci - Guitar

Jamie Hunt - Guitar

Sid Caballero - Bass

Jerad Buckwalter - Drums



Negative Outlook (2001)

Integrity Defines Strength (2002)

As Real As It Gets (2003)

The Beginning Of The End (2006)

Maniacal (2008)