Knee-deep in angst and rage, the next generation of New York hardcore has arrived with Sworn Enemy. The Queens-based group might be better classified as the newest addition to the East Coast metalcore scene, which includes many other musically heavy and lyrically vague but angry groups, including Hatebreed -- whose singer, Jamey Jasta, produced As Real as It Gets. Singer Sal LoCoco is bent on letting the world feel his suffering and certainly has the shredded vocal chords to convey it, but doesn't get more specific than "You call me this, you say I'm that" on "Labeled," and is staggered by cliché on "As Real as It Gets," where locker-room sloganeering like, "The battle's over but the war/Has yet begun/You're the disease/And I'm the cure," does little more than fill space between guitar riffs. With New York hardcore, however, it's rarely been about what you say -- as long as it's angry -- but more how you say it; whether it's a calm spoken interlude or a split-tone scream, LoCoco is definitely pissed. And the rest of Sworn Enemy is equally irate; their update of classic '80s thrash and hardcore is the best reason to check out As Real as It Gets. The twin-guitar attack of Mike Raffinello and Lorenzo Antonucci lurches between a slow-metal chug and 1-2-3-4 hardcore attack, accented by snotty feedback breaks, accenting LoCoco's every howl. As Real as It Gets may not stray far from punk metal conventions, but it pushes them far enough to keep the masses churning in the mosh pit.
AllMusic Review by Wade Kergan