"ALL SMILES represents faking a happy emotion to bring someone else’s guard down,” says Tyler. "I would further victimize myself by doing this, because I felt people were unfair to me. If something was particularly shitty, I stopped voicing my opinion, and I smiled it off. It would get the other person to shut up. It’s a form of borderline sociopathic behavior. Historically, I got very self-deprecating. There was no resolution. I just played the victim. I can’t blame anyone else for the way I am. This record is owning up to all of that shit. It’s the moment we became self-aware.”
In 2015, the boys wrapped up promoting their second full-length album, The Lovers/The Devil, with a bang. Along the way, they earned acclaim from AXS, Alternative Press, New Noise Magazine, Blabbermouth, and Billboard who praised the "originality” of their "punk-inspired cacophony of down-tuned mathcore.” They ravaged stages alongside everyone from Slayer to The Devil Wears Prada and Code Orange. Meanwhile, "Snake Eyes” from their breakout 2013 debut The Death Card cracked 1 million Spotify streams. However, they spent most of 2016 at home in a period of transition and isolation, working day jobs for the first time in years. Amidst the shake ups, Sworn In amicably split with longtime guitarist Zakary Gibson and left their previous label.
"After The Lovers/The Devil, we were at a crossroads,” sighs Tyler. "We almost called it quits at two or three different points. We decided to whip ourselves into shape and make a six-song EP. It actually turned into the album, because we just kept going. We found new representation, signed to Fearless, and all of this shit got real again.” Days before heading to the studio, a flood of inspiration overtook the frontman, waking him up from a period of writer’s block. He locked himself in his bedroom and wrote eleven titles in all caps as well as the lyrics to three songs.
"Lyrically, I embraced my dark side,” he confesses. "I went through a few weeks where I made certain to let that part of me take over, so I could finally understand it. I got in touch with why I feel the way I do. It was like an actor researching a role, getting acquainted with the parts of myself I had ignored in order to deliver the most genuine, positive, and personal lyrics I could.” Sworn In retreated to Interlace Audio in Portland, OR to record with producer Kris Crummett [Issues, Crown The Empire]. For the first time, all four members contributed to the writing process, and they allowed Kris into their creative circle.
"I’d never done this, but Kris had me do scratch vocals for the whole record,” explains the frontman. "We were there for thirty days, and I was tracking vocals for all but five or six. Everybody was bringing in ideas. I did all of my own vocal melodies and wrote lyrics in the moment. In the past, we didn’t let the producer touch what we did—which is absurd. We’ve grown up a lot.”
That growth becomes clear on the opener and first single "MAKE IT HURT.” An industrial squeal grinds against staggering, shuddering riffs and a clean reprieve as Tyler’s voice snaps from a manic and malevolent scream into a diabolical bridge and a haunting refrain, "Make it hurt.”
Whether it’s the pummeling and pulverizing "HELLUPUTMETHRU,” the intoxicating croon of the title track, or ponderous rumination on attention in exchange for depression during the closer "CROSS MY HEART,” ALL SMILES conjures a twisted, taut, and tight psychological journey that’s impossible to turn away from.
With Tyler directing visuals and the band upping their arresting imagery with a new stage show, ALL SMILES is SWORN IN’s finest hour with a wide-eyed grin…
"This time, I’m on the same level as everyone else,” he leaves off. "I’m laying everything I personally am on the table. I hope people feel something and maybe get a little taken aback.”