Tag Archives: the death card

Record Reviews in Haiku (Part 1)

Nothing is better,
Than finding creative ways,
To write new reviews.

So at HXC,
We have decided to do,
Reviews in haiku.

Continue reading Record Reviews in Haiku (Part 1)

Interview with Tyler Dennen of Sworn In

Read the full interview transcript below.

HXC: How’s Mayhem been for you so far?
Tyler Dennen: Really cool. Definitely the coolest tour we’ve ever done.

You’ve been playing a lot of new songs from your latest record, The Lovers//The Devil. How’s that been?
Really good. It’s definitely been an interesting and challenging experience because the music is a little bit harder to pull off live. We’re doing it every day. We practice a lot beforehand. So I’m feeling pretty confident about it.

It’s a very complex album. It has a large duality to it. Could you give us a brief explanation of that?
Well, the whole idea is that it’s a split CD–the first half being the lovers, the second half being the devil. And the music, lyrics and story are supposed to reflect upon that change. So the first half of the CD is less aggressive and more towards the melodic side. The story follows the male and female lead where the first half, the male is the lover and the female is the devil and it switches. Throughout the record that switch happens slowly until midway and then reverse. And then the devil’s side musically is supposed to be heavier and more dark sounding. Heavier, lower tuned, more drone-y kind of stuff than the first half.

And what were some of the major musical influences for the album.
I can’t speak too much on the music side of it because I didn’t write any of the music. But lyrically, inspiration for me aside from personal experience and things that I was going through, the band My Chemical Romance is always really inspirational to me. And the band Thrice.

Why did you want to utilize more clean vocals this time?
It was just something we’ve always wanted to get into. Going that route really opens you up to a much larger audience and singing is something I’d rather be doing more than screaming. So just trying to usher in that age of kind of [headed] more toward the mainstream, for lack of better terms, kind of slowly.

A lot of the lyrics have these whimsical, almost child-like rhymes that you play upon. What made you want to do that?
I thought it would be kind of cool to put some ironic twists on the lyrics and song names because it would kind of lessen how intense it really is. Kind of like make it easier to digest.

Tyler Dennen of Sworn In
Tyler Dennen of Sworn In

What would you say is your favorite track?
Definitely “Scissors.”

You just did a video for that as well. How was the video shoot?
It was cool. It was very, very, very last minute, but I think it came together really well.

Your first full-length, The Death Card (XIII) as well as the new one both utilize tarot cards. What’s your fascination with tarot cards?
When I came back to the band, which was before we put out The Death Card, our guitar player Zak [Gibson] and I decided that it would be cool to go down the route with tarot cards because we really liked the imagery on them, the art on them, and the fact that the meanings behind them aren’t necessarily verbatim. You can kind of take what you want from it, which is something I really try to strive for with our music.

If you could be any tarot card, what would you be?
I would definitely be The Fool. That’s kind of what I was looking at for the next CD.

What kind of musical directions are you thinking of going in for your next record?
Not a fucking clue.

Do you think it’s going to be a concept again?
I kind of want to steer away from conceptual records, to be honest with you. I don’t feel like I really know what I’m doing enough as a person who’s trying to convey a story and write lyrics. I don’t think I have the correct rhetoric to be able to really solidly put down a story out there. So I think I’d rather take myself a little bit less seriously and just get what’s in my heart and chest out, rather than being stuck to the guideline of a story.

What would happen if the zombie apocalypse happened right now? How far would you guys make it?
My band? [Laughs] We would die pretty damn quick.

What would your weapon of choice on this bus be?
[Picks up free weight] Throw one, then run away.

Sworn_In_-_The_Lovers-The_Devil

How would you describe your genre? You guys are kind of all over the place, in a really cool way.
I would say emotional more than anything. I don’t wanna say ‘emo’ because we’re not like that, but my main prerogative in this band is to get people to feel something. When it comes down to the lyrics and the music I think all we’re trying to do is put emotion into something tangible. So that would probably be the genre, I would say. Emotional.

Out of all the bands on Mayhem Fest, who’s been your favorite to watch?
I love watching Thy Art Is Murder. We love those guys. 

If you could bring one record with you on a deserted island, what would it be?
I’d probably say Vheissu by Thrice.

So what exactly have you guys “sworn in” to?
Doing this. Travelling and doing music, I guess that’s the only thing. And we’ve got a bunch of contracts so I guess that’s kind of like being sworn in.

Where’s your favorite place you’ve played so far?
I really, really like playing all of the west coast—California, Washington, Oregon. I also really like Louisville, Kentucky and Texas is always great, too.

If you could describe your time on Mayhem in one word, what would it be?
Badass.

Interview by Natasha (a.k.a. Mascot) Van Duser

Live Shots: Sworn In at Mayhem Fest 2015

Chris George of Sworn In
Chris George of Sworn In

Most bands jump around a lot on stage. The self-described “emotional” band Sworn In like to lurk. Wielding their chaotic blend of metal, industrial, and -core sounds at Rockstar Mayhem Fest on Tuesday, they sneered and stared at the New Jersey crowd who weren’t sure whether to mosh or take cover. Which will you choose?

All photos taken by Mascot Van Duser.

Sworn In: Lunatics or Artistic Masterminds

sworn-in-mindless-music-video

To anyone who has recently heard the new Sworn In record, The Lovers/The Devil, you may be asking yourself “What the hell did I just listen to?” And this is a pretty standard reaction as many of the tracks on the quintet’s sophomore effort are pretty much collections of not-so-collaborative noise.  After the great success of their debut full-length, The Death Card, this shift from “emocore” to experimental melodic metal(ish) collage-djent (yes, that is a mouthful just as much as an earful) felt almost disappointing and out of place for the band.

A couple weeks back I cited Sworn In as one of the bands you need to know based mainly off of their highly innovative efforts on The Death Card, or XIII, depending on how you want to read it. It’s a fantastic album that carries a distinct sound throughout the entire work, but is filled to the brim with dynamic and out of the box rhythmic patterns over strange chord progressions and an intense use of distortion pedals.  It’s what I imagine broken hearted spoken word in a dive bar would sound like if suddenly Rise Records wanted to remix it.  While it’s definitely a little bizarre, it’s also incredibly intense and highly enjoyable. So when The Lovers/The Devil dropped and I couldn’t understand my own disappointment in their strange, new musical direction, I had to take a step back and ask myself, “Have Sworn In gone crazy or are they really just musical geniuses no one understands?”

When it comes to art and music, where do we find the exact divider?  In fact, is there even a dividing line or is music simply a form or “genre” of art?  And if so, is art all encompassing of “the arts” and thus not solely focused on the major artistic media such as painting, sculpting, and drawing?

Okay, so where is all of this philosophical stuff coming from that sounds like the beginning of a bad 101 class in college?  And why am I asking so many goddamn questions?

Sworn_In_-_The_Lovers-The_Devil

Well, that’s kind of the point.  When you listen to a great record, not just a good record, you want the music to challenge you.  This is why listening to albums like Stick To Your GunsDisobedient will always hold more of an impact than listening to Falling In Reverse‘s Just Like YouWhile FIR may have catchy and even danceable riffs and hooks, STYG are preaching lyrics with a strong message as well as musical backbone.  People love Bring Me The Horizon for similar reasons.  While the music is amazing and ever-changing, it’s the personal and emotional aspect of tracks like “It Never Ends” and “Drown” that will resonate with the listener long after the records stop spinning.  If the music doesn’t subliminally force the listener to think in some new or different way then there really is no point to invest yourself in it.

When I first heard The Lovers/The Devil I was confused.  I had previously only heard the singles “Sunshine” and “I Don’t Really Love You” and I couldn’t quite get a grasp on why the fuck a band so rooted in doing spoken, emotionally driven unclean vocals would want to introduce these weird meshes of melodic cleans sporadically throughout each track.  It wasn’t sonically pleasing, and it wasn’t aesthetically intriguing either.  The fan feedback via social media also seemed to be just as disappointed or confused as I was (though now, looking back, I think it was more confusion disguised as disappointment).  The one major thing this album was doing was getting people talking–whether it was good or bad, people were genuinely discussing these out-of-left-field singles that seemingly no one could figure out.

In a strange move, Sworn In took to social media themselves to really push the idea that the album needed to be listened to as a whole, not just in bits and pieces.  They stressed it was a concept album divided into two major ideas, The Lovers and The Devil, naturally, and encouraged fans not to write them off for their shift in sound.

sworn in screen shot

So with that I went back into it.

And still wasn’t satisfied.

When we think “concept album,” we are thinking of an album that is divided up into varying sections and stories, but what if each track on The Lovers/The Devil is actually more of a microcosm of the entire album?  Just about every track except “Oliolioxinfree” has this bizarre separation of depressing lullaby-like melody amongst thrashy, experimental hardcore.  The title of the album is problematic enough.  The Lovers/The Devil is not only annoying to type, but it’s also kind of jarring to look at and say. It’s two separate ideas used to create one concept, one idea. Perhaps this jarring sonic effect was the purpose; perhaps this album is meant to be just as jarring as the stylized title suggests.

"Number 1 (Lavender Mist)" by Jackson Pollock
“Number 1 (Lavender Mist)” by Jackson Pollock

The fact of the matter is that The Lovers/The Devil is never going to be truly sonically enjoyable.  There is an intentional formula behind it that makes it just impeccably grating to listen to.  But it can be appreciated for its conceptual sophistication.  Think of Jackson Pollock. His paintings are sporadic and all over the place, but they say something far more transcendent than just a run of the mill portrait.  They create outward commentaries on society and the people of the art world as well as those who view, collect, and showcase his paintings.  They say that there are set formulas for “art,” but we do not necessarily need to follow them in order to create Art. There may not necessarily be a skill displayed within the painting, or a catchy flow to this album for that matter, but it’s a concept that came about from both past experience in and knowledge of the industry as well as technical skills in general.  It’s throwing conventions to the wind and in the end creating conversation.

You cannot deny that people are talking about The Lovers/The Devil.  While this time around the lyrics may not be the selling point that the listener takes away, it’s the challenge of making a new sound with a dualistic concept present in almost every track that is completely throwing people off their game.  Metalcore, hardcore, djent, punk, dubstep, whatever alternative music you listen to is always so rooted in verse, chorus, verse, chorus, hook/breakdown/bass drop, chorus, blah blah blah, that when an album comes around and changes the entire dynamic, people tend to jump and just say it’s bad. But “bad” is the wrong word for The Lovers/The Devil because the album isn’t one to be listened to for its musicality, it’s meant to be listened to for its innovation and artistic nature.  I will never bump this album on a car ride or at a party. I will never want to listen to it because of any melodic nature it may hold.  And that’s because The Lovers/The Devil shouldn’t be viewed as a record. It should be viewed as sonic concept Art. And for that, Sworn In deserves to be lauded for their efforts, not beaten down for making a record absolutely no one expected.

Need-To-Know: Sworn In

sworn-in-mindless-music-video

Looking for the latest band you have to hear?  Well, search no more!  Today’s Need-To-Know band is Sworn In.  Hailing all the way from the suburbs of Illinois, comes this innovative metalcore band.  Okay, we know what you might be thinking: Metalcore all sounds the same. Well, hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong.  Sworn In is an amped up breath of fresh air.  Their debut full-length XIII (believe it or not, this is pronounced “Death Card,” and not “Thirteen”) combines chugging unclean vocals with their signature “blegh” aesthetic over melodic and diverse rhythmic patterns that fuel everything from a jazzy vibe to a straight up thrash dominance.

Upholding a self-proclaimed “Emotional” genre of music, Sworn In’s track “Snake Eyes” will give you one of the best summaries of their sound.  When that unconventional breakdown comes in towards the end, get ready.  The lines “Snake eyes rolling back into my head/Wishing I was dead/Wishing I was dead” will be stuck in your head all day. Who said metalcore couldn’t be catchy?

While the group typically upholds a sound reminiscent of basement thrash meets a 2002-era My Chemical Romance, Sworn In seems to now be expanding their sound as they introduce clean vocal melodies into their latest single, “I Don’t Really Love You.”  With their sophomore full-length set for release next month, Sworn In is a band you’re definitely going to want to follow.  Check out the video for “Snake Eyes” below and be on the look out for The Lovers/The Devil out on Razor & Tie April 7th!