For my love of Portuguese metal I have these five lads to thank. Around 2010 or early 2011 I got their self-titled release and was blown away. It took about 10 seconds into the riff of ‘Concrete Walls’ to hook me and make me a fan for life. Fast-forward to the present and Switchtense have released a live CD/DVD combo entitled “10 Unbreakable Years”. Live releases don’t tend to have any middle ground, either you love them or hate them as CD releases; Kiss‘ “Alive!” and Rush’s “All the World’s a Stage” both started my life-long love of live CDs. This latest from Switchtense only reinforces that love and allows me to experience a live session from a band on the other side of the globe.
Warning: These tracks will cause spontaneous headbanging and windmilling – use caution when operating heavy machinery.
This is an eleven track mix of material from their two LP’s and two of their EP’s. Much of the weight is on their self-titled and most recent album but there are some bits of thunder from “Confrontation of Souls” to give the audience a nice mix over their career. This opens with ‘Concrete Walls’, one of my favorite songs and one of my favorite thrash riffs, and drops into ‘Face Off’. These are their two most famous and recognizable songs and two of their best. Thunderous bass and drums, driving riffs and deep guttural vocals all come together in a perfect thrash storm. They open this show and album with the force of an atomic bomb and one can see and hear the crowd is giving it right back to them. When you get the headphones on you really get the sense you are transported to Moita and are part of the crowd.
Moving through such classics as ‘Into The Words of Chaos’, ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Blood of Victory’, we are treated to a cross section of career songs all unmistakably Switchtense and all delivered with their hallmark emotion-fueled rage. The dual guitars of Neto and Pardal are reminiscent of the Tipton–Downing and King–Hanneman tag teams. Karia and Xines, on bass and drums respectively, form one of the most important parts of metal – the backbone. Without their skill to magically keep that thunderous drive moving forward the rest would be useless. These two have captured a chemistry over the last 10 years and showcase it wonderfully on this release. Then there is Hugo on vocals. His brand of guttural scream is the perfect compliment to the music. It is the last emotional thread to complete the soundscape that is Switchtense.
The DVD also comes with a brief documentary giving fans who don’t live in Portugal a great insight into the history and thoughts of these five, and all in all this is a well done DVD and CD combo. The mix and master are complementary to not only a live setting but the band’s flair and style and the album is a great celebration of a decade of hard work. Here is hoping that they last a few more decades. This is a great career compilation and well worth seeking out, but more than that it is just great metal done by five dedicated lads in Portugal. Well done, guys, well done!