Mike Judy Presents
Gift Giver, Kodiak
3108 Locust St.
St. Louis, MO, 63103
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 6:30 PM
This event is all ages
Taking a page from the tape-trading days of the past, Chicago metallic hardcore savants Sworn In took the DIY route when it came time to spread their gospel. Instead of trying to score a deal with a record label from the beginning, like so many other young bands do, Sworn In let their music do the early grassroots work.
“When we started this band a couple of years ago, our plan was just to post all of our music online, for free, till we released our first album,” Sworn In vocalist Tyler Dennen explains. “99% of the hype on this band has come via social networking. We have toured nonstop and any time we meet one of our fans, they tell us they first learned about us through Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or another social networking site.”
The word of mouth on Sworn In was so strong that the folks at Razor & Tie knew they had to join forces with the Chicago combo. They signed them in the winter of 2013. Featuring a crushing mix by Brian Hood (A Plea for Purging, The Crimson Armada), The Death Card – Sworn In’s new debut album – follows up the band’s previously released two EPs - Catharsis and Start/End.
The Death Card was already finished by the time Sworn In – which besides Dennen also features drummer Chris George, guitarists Zakary Gibson and Eugene Kamlyuk and bassist Sean Banks – signed on with the white hot label. “We already had enough money from touring and selling our merch to pay for everything on our own, so we headed to Nashville and recorded the album with Brian. Our guitar player, Zak, suggested working with Brian since he was a big fan of his work with the band Gideon. We’re all glad we did,” says a rightfully proud Dennen.
A relentless attack to the senses, The Death Card is not only stacked to the rafters with one ferocious guitar riff after the other, it’s also a concept album with lyrics weaving a nightmarish tale throughout the 13 tracks.
Dennen’s striking lyrics manage to cut through the group’s sonic assault on The Death Card, which isn’t surprising since he mined from his own life for inspiration. “I was born and raised Jewish, but I never really got into religion. When I was around 13, my family joined a synagogue and the rabbi there got close to our family and came to our house a lot. Anyway, I went on to find out that my mother was having an affair with him and my parents ended up getting divorced because of it. Here was this guy who was up there preaching about family morals and he ends up doing what he did.
The main character in the album goes through a very traumatic experience throughout the story. The song ‘Hypocrisy’ is where the trauma hits and the journey begins and it’s like my big “fuck you!” to the rabbi and the whole situation.”
In terms of the story arc and its cohesiveness, The Death Card triumphs where many other concept albums fail. “I wanted the flow of the songs and lyrics to show how this character loses his mind more with each track. By the time the album ends, he’s accepted his fate.”
Lyrics aside, pit dwellers also have plenty to sink their teeth into throughout The Death Card, with tracks like “Mindless,” “Deadpan” and “Death” entwining dynamic rhythmic shifts within the chaos that will surely leave dance floors caked with all kinds of bodily fluids. “I’m into breakdowns and that kind of stuff, but I think a lot of bands are overusing some of the same tricks,” says drummer Chris George, who also writes in the band. “In a song like ‘Deadpan’ I use dissonant chords to create more of an effect and feel, rather than make it the focal point of the track. In ‘Death,’ we even included a blast beat part and that’s the kind of unexpected thing we love doing when we write.”
George’s musical inspiration on The Death Card might surprise some listeners. “My early influences were definitely metalcore, but as I started getting into heavy music more, I went back and fell in love with bands like Slipknot. What I wanted to do with our new album was to create a new, darker kind of nu metal sound and combine it with the technicality of Meshuggah. I wanted to bridge the gap between those two worlds.”
With The Death Card hitting stores supported by Razor & Tie’s muscle, and the quintet keeping up their tireless touring schedule, it’s only a matter of time before Sworn In transform from underground rising stars to headlining heroes.