It's almost satirical that Sworn In's third album is titled All Smiles, a common phrase used by those with no problems on their plate; on the group's Fearless Records debut, it seems like they had a lot of them.
Lyrically, All Smiles is riddled with angst. The band's mixture of mosh metal and eyeliner screamo is mostly toxic here. Apparent from the opening track "Make It Hurt," Sworn In's songwriting aims to be complex, but mostly comes off scattered and unfocused. Some of the heaviest moments on the record ("The Smiling Knife," "Dread All") get lost in a maze of whiny, off-putting clean vocals. The first minute of the concluding track "Cross My Heart" feels like the band's epiphany, but dwindles into what feels like a drunken Deftones.
It's not all bad. Introspective lyrics ("Mirror Fear") are complemented by crushing guitar work ("Don't Look at Me") reminiscent of the nu-deathcore sound that Sworn In executed on their debut album The Death Card, but featuring the prominent melodies of the group's sophomore effort, The Lovers/The Devil. And "Puppeteer" is a surprisingly smooth blend of Emmure's heaviness with hooks that recall My Chemical Romance and other Myspace-era bands.
Ultimately, though, there's not enough good on All Smiles to elicit much more than a grin or two. (Fearless)