The self titled release from the Portuguese metal quintet known as Switchtense, is their second full-length album. Formed in 2002 these thrash heavy Europeans deliver a brutally heavy brand of metal. Thrash seems to have fallen out of favor in recent years but can these five deliver on what may be a wave of thrash comeback?
The comeback wave is rising and somewhere near the leading edge is Hugo and friends delivering a power packed message that their music is here to stay.
The opening notes of ‘Concrete ride’, flow amid dark clouds of thunder, like a super cell as it moves onto a prairie. As the full beat kicks in, the riffs explode with full storm fury. By the time Hugo adds his raspy vocals to the mix, the listeners are placed in the swirling storm of riffs, screams and beats that signals the evolution of modern day thrash. Pure driving guitars, massive beats and pure diaphragmatic vocals are true characteristics of thrash, and Switchtense has them all. Giving way into ‘Face Off’, their pace only intensifies to showcase Neto and Pardal’s technical guitar abilities. Karia and Kines provide the perfect quick tempo stage for this guitar showcase. These first two tracks are nothing short of pure genius.
Somewhere near the middle of the album the track ‘Unbreakable’ shows the true mastery of the band. Wonderfully complex in notes, riffs, and beats, this track demonstrates everything that is wonderful about thrash. Complex beats that anyone can bang their head to, vocal intonation accentuating the raw emotional stage set by the bass and drums. Through this constant hammering the guitars achieve brilliant combination of notes that give way to ascending progressions bringing us to frenzied highs. This song is certainly as its name implies, unbreakable.
Near the end incredibly pounding notes, in the form of ‘The Legacy’, come to the surface. Certainly one of the faster paced, if not the fastest song on the entire release. Finger speed, arm speed, and vocal chord stretches are the ingredients for this recipe of metal. Even as the album is nearing the end the listener gets nothing but pure maniacal waves of sound. These waves are hitting the beaches fast and furious in a musical fashion that gets our hearts and blood pumping in full metal glory.
Truly a testament that thrash has not died but in fact given a modern day boost. This release boasts twelve tracks and each one is a chaotic order of sounds, ringing in the modern movement. As more metal acts are pushing boundaries of mainstream sounds, it is refreshing to get some nice pure driving music. Challenging the status quo of metal is what defines our genre but there is a comfort in being able to relive some of the root sounds of the past. Double horns up to Switchtense for delivering a truly masterful work that is able to transport us to our glorious past and keep our feet firmly in the future.