After the first spin I must admit that I wasn't too sure of the markedly more metallic direction SWORN ENEMY had gone in on "The Beginning of The End" until I realized that the progression made was a natural one. "As Real as it Gets" hinted at it. The 2003 release may be a hardcore album, but the crossover feel was coming out, whether due to the double-bass spurts or the sharper licks. No wonder the band went over so well sharing the stage with a wide range of metal bands. They always had it in 'em; they were just waiting for the right time to bring it out.
There is no question that on "The Beginning of the End" there is more SLAYER and DESTRUCTION involved in the white hot licks, guitar tone, percussive intensity, and vocals than there is AGNOSTIC FRONT or MADBALL. And it works because SWORN ENEMY still feels like a hardcore band that happens to playing a metallic style. Most of the 12 tracks here are above average and overflowing with the energy, enthusiasm and raw conviction that has always characterized the Queens, NY-based group.
Pick any track and you'll be at least satisfied with the sharpness of the riffs, the sheer speed and aggression of the drumming, and the overall arrangements. There are even a handful of guitar solos to be had. Furthermore, the thrash with hardcore tendencies that is "The Beginning of The End" is much better suited to Sal Lococo's high-pitched screech vocals. The guy's got a throat and an attitude that is made for this rip 'n bash style. Tim Lambesis' (AS I LAY DYING) production, Steve Russell's engineering, and Zeuss' mix result in hard-hitting song structures, a crisp sound, and a vicious delivery.
There may be no classics on the album, but there are many songs that are worthy of your time if you are even the slightest bit interested in up-tempo thrash, raw metalcore (yes, I said it), and/or crossover. The one song that is a bit hokey from a lyrical standpoint, but gets better with repeat listens is "We Hate" (as in "We hate your music, we hate you too"). That small bitch aside, on "The Beginning of the Ending" the members of SWORN ENEMY wear their influences on their sleeves and still manage to make an album that sounds fresh and alive.