Whether you love them, hate them, or are indifferent, Sworn In are on the tongues of every “core” metalhead worth a damn. And in 2015, if you consider yourself a fan of the genre then you are obligated to at least know where they came from and where they’re headed.
The Illinois five-piece have been churning out their off-kilter nu-metalcore and touring consistently since their inception in 2011. With the release of their two EP’s, “Catharsis” and “Start/End,” they gained a strong following within the underground metalcore/deathcore community and eventually signed with Razor & Tie Records, through which they released their debut full-length “The Death Card” in August 2013.
The band was met with a stark rise in popularity throughout 2014 as they toured with genre heavyweights such as Attila, Crown the Empire, Emmure and The Acacia Strain. This momentum pushed them to the forefront of the scene and built the anticipation for their sophomore effort “The Lovers/The Devil,” which was released on April 7th 2015.
“The people who like Sworn In like it, and the people who don’t like Sworn In hate it,” said vocalist Tyler Dennen in regards to the reception “The Lovers/The Devil” had been getting within its first two weeks on the shelves.
The album serves as a marking of the band’s transition from the underground to the limelight, which of course carries with it a great divide between the “oldschool fans” and the newcomers, aka the “bandwagoning posers” as many a YouTube commenter would note.
However, completely unfazed by the childish hatred and “sellout” accusations being tossed his way, Dennen said that the feedback they’ve gotten is “just exactly what we were expecting.”
The album itself expands upon the dark, chaotic and viciously heavy “The Death Card” by adding twisted, yet devilishly catchy melodies and an overall refinement to their pandemonium-like sound.
“It’s a lot more groovy, rhythmical, less abrasive, and more melodic. But still heavy,” Dennen said.
He said that their goal going into the album was to “just be more theatrical and really drive in the point that what we’re about is emotion.”
And just as “Start/End” and “The Death Card” were, “The Lovers/ The Devil” is a concept album that Dennen calls “a collection of observations about destructive relationships.”
“It’s a love story. It goes in depth about how every person has a lover and a devil inside of them and they don’t really get the choice of when it comes out,” he said.
Along with the new elements in their sound and lyrics, Sworn In adjusted their entire image as a band to coincide with the theme of the album. Their signature magnolia logo, pictured on the cover of “The Death Card,” was swapped out for the pair of scissors found in the “The Lovers/ The Devil” artwork. They also now tote black, button-down shirts and red armbands on stage instead of their black athletic jerseys outfitted with the magnolia and “XIII” logos that had essentially become cult-like insignias to their devoted fanbase.
However, this conscious shift in direction is nothing new to the band, but rather symbolizes their mission statement of continuous progression.
“We never want to stay stagnant. We want to change with each release. We want to flow with each release. And we don’t wanna get stuck in a rut of where people want us to be, but rather what we want to be,” Dennen said.
Throughout the interview, Dennen was seated on the decrepit stoop of an abandoned building next door to the infamous hardcore venue Bogies in downtown Albany, NY. A few hours later, he will have performed to nearly 300, sweaty, cramped concertgoers in the tiny club. However, clad in black aviator sunglasses, black skinny jeans, a black jacket and a gold chain around his neck, he seemed to have bigger sights in mind than the intimate club-tour lifestyle he and his bandmates had lived for the past few years. They were beginning to outgrow the community which birthed them, another natural progression in the eyes of Dennen and one in which they plan to welcome with open arms.
“I wanna tour with bands outside our genre. I wanna tour with bands that will make people scratch their head. I would love to tour with [bands such as] Between the Buried and Me, Falling In Reverse, Hollywood Undead, and Dir En Grey,” he said.
Each of those bands exist in completely different sectors of the rock and metal universe, but Sworn In are determined to push the boundaries, disregard their critics and perhaps even expand the realm of possibilities for bands of their kin.
But all of their efforts boil down to one specific desire. They want you to feel something. And Dennen believes that their live performance represents their true identity, as it culminates the visual, physical, and musical all into one.
“The main goal of the show is to have people going home feeling something. I think a lot of bands have a real processed view on what the show is. They get up there, they’re angry, they stop. It’s fake. It’s transparent. We’re trying real emotion and have people experience real emotion rather than what they think they should be feeling,” he said.