Denmark’s SWITCHBLADE are back, and they’re looking for nothin’ but a good time! How can I resist?
Yes, “Rock ‘N’ Roll 4ever” is old-fashioned, balls-out ‘80s Hair Metal in just about every sense of the term. SWITCHBLADE deal in energetic, simplistic riffs and fast and frenetic solos, as well as a dramatic overuse of pinch harmonics. This powerful guitar formula was the calling card of every Sunset Strip graduate in the ‘80s, and SWITCHBLADE put it to good use here. The album opener, “Cocksuckin Suzie”, could very well have been a lost SKID ROW song, and “Rocker” manages to evoke both AC/DC and POISON simultaneously.
Guitarists Martin Steene and Henning Nielsen form the backbone of SWITCHBLADE. Their dual axe attack barrels through many a song on “Rock ‘N’ Roll 4ever”, providing blistering Angus Young-style solos when needed. Steene and Nielsen even show a bit of versatility on the bluesy tracks of the album, like “Desert Train” and “Bad Morning Bluez”. They prove to be as adept at playing soulful blues riffs as they are at performing wild Hair Metal solos. Thanks to the near-flawless production on the album, both Steene and Henning’s guitar come through loud and clear and have exceptional tone, which is especially evident during their solos.
A major low point of the album is singer Ken Anthony. This aging biker doesn’t possess the most fantastic singing voice ever heard. Ironically, he delivers his best performance on the first track of the album, “Cocksuckin Suzie”, on which he sounds vaguely like Andi Deris circa PINK CREAM 69; after this, however, he turns to a guttural Southern Rock growl, and that’s when things start losing their charm and originality. On the title track, Anthony sounds like a cross between MOTORHEAD’s Lemmy and a Hair Metal singer, which actually sounds kind of cool, but then it’s straight back to the growl after that.
“Rock ‘N’ Roll 4ever” is a mixed bag. While many of the songs are energetic and fist-pumping, there are certainly a number that fall short of the mark. There is some excellent guitarwork on the album, but it’s balanced out by a less than stellar vocal performance. SWITCHBLADE really holds appeal for only two kinds of people: the person who wants their Hair Metal toned down a bit, or the person who likes their Southern Rock over the top. If, by some miracle, you’re one of these two kinds of people, then go for “Rock ‘N’ Roll 4ever.” However, there are certainly many bands out there that do Hair Metal and Southern Rock better than SWITCHBLADE, so fans of those two genres who believe they should not be mixed will likely want to pass on this album.
(Online May 31, 2007)