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Sworn Enemy 

Maniacal (Century Media)

Going metal used to be bad news for punk bands. Crossover quintet Sworn Enemy came out of New York's hardcore scene about 10 years ago, but its early material was, at best, a pale shadow of Agnostic Front's worst. With nothing to lose, the band switched from NYHC to thrash on 2006's The Beginning of the End. And it worked: Trading a Hatebreed infatuation for Iron Maiden riffs finally gave the group a face beneath all the generic breakdowns. On Maniacal, Sworn Enemy piles on even more metal, lifting riffs and ideas from forgettable Anthrax and Testament songs. As I Lay Dying drummer Jordan Mancino works his double-bass setup so relentlessly, he makes his carb-burning kicks sound easy — and ultimately dull. Floor-scraping down-tuned intros ("Fear for Failure") and let-'em-rip solos (every song) complete the mechanical thrash workout. Frontman Sal LoCoco is the one thing that hasn't changed: He still sings like he's pissed off about having a bad case of acid reflux. The band's shapeless post-9/11 malaise has given way to musings on democracy ("The American Way"), but the gang vocals about destroying everything in their path amount to little more than tough-guy hardcore. Maniacal only sounds metal.

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