Have you ever heard an album that doesn’t suck nor does it rock the shit out of everything in its path… an album that’s just, uh oh, decent? Switchtense self-titled second full-length is that album. For its duration, it’s all entertainment and cupcakes, but after it ceases spinning, that’s it. It doesn’t leave a mark.

What these Portuguese rockers provide is a groove-ish, thrash-y metal with a hint of 10 year old metalcore—no autotune, no crab stance—and some melodic death metal. It’s an unholy mix between bands like Soulfly/Sepultura, Pantera, Machine Head and, say, Cataract. Simplistic, straight-up metal without any sort of wankery. Despite the album failing to leave a long lasting impression, it’s not bad. Really.

Switchtense’s musicianship and presentation are up to snuff, but the songwriting aspect still needs a bit more time at the Skunkworks factory; they need to elevate to the plane that separates the better from the good. The most important aspect—the riffs—do a bloody job with integrity like a good blue-collar worker should, but they don’t transcend time and space. Even if some of them stick for a song or two, I don’t think any of the 12 songs will suddenly and out of the blue pop into your head while you’re doing the groceries. Clocking in at 48 minutes, the album is about 10 minutes too long. But not once did I feel the need to push the stop button. I thoroughly had ‘fun’ with the album, as songs like “Face/Off”, “I Will Stand Stronger”, “This is Only the Beginning” and “The Legacy of Hate” are able to get at least some blood pumping.

Yet, Switchtense could do with plenty of more fist-pumping and senseless violence. The music simply didn’t beat me into submission like my niece does, or Construcdead’s unsung classic, Repent. That’s a good fucking, relentless album right there. Or Cataract’s With Triumph Comes Loss, which is another overlooked album.

In the end, Switchtense has that aura to them that makes me inclined to believe that they’re more intense live than on album. Hopefully, once they summon the follow-up, they’ll beat me up like a red-headed stepchild. We’ll see…

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
August 1st, 2011


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