At this point, I’m just getting tired of the ‘let’s just mix Hardcore in!’ mentality of most newer bands. Whether it’s Death, Thrash, or even Power Metal there seems to be this ideology that if you add a significant amount Hardcore stop-and-go sections and have a barking vocalist then you have the next big thing in Metal. Well, 85% of those bands out there never will bypass the mediocre stage as they sound like every other band. Then I heard the debut album from Portugal’s SWITCHTENSE…and I have a little hope for that ideology.
Post Thrash and Groove Metal already had a significant amount of Hardcore influence within its conception starting with EXHORDER and moving into Anselmo’s vocal attack with PANTERA and history tells itself. That has been done a million times over by now, so bands that are looking to hit the genre need to play it with a renewed energy – that’s what SWITCHTENSE does on “Confrontation Of Souls” and it sells an overly used idea nicely.
The band blends Thrash and Hardcore in an almost age defying manner on this album. Just when a song tends to get a little too repetitive with its chunky riffs they throw in a nice little lead or speed it up with a nice little SLAYER influenced chaos to get the listener’s attention again. Granted don’t expect much more than the two approaches to the music, this band plays either on Groove mode or Thrashy Groove mode the entire album but it worked for me. It was enough change ups that I never felt bored or overly bombarded with the same ideas. The riffs never leave that zone but the occasionally squeal happy solos break the monotony up and a rather incredible drum performance pulls almost every section up to the next level. If I had one complaint about this album, it would have to be the rather straight-up vocal work. It has great energy and he nails the performance to a T, but the combination of an Anselmo bark and upfront assault of Jamey Jasta tends to run a bit ragged by the end of the album. It’s not bad just not varied enough for my tastes.
If you enjoy a solid dose of Groove with your Metal, then you should check out “Confrontation Of Souls”. Although the genre might be getting a bit worn at this time, SWITCHTENSE plays it with a lot of great energy and their punch to the face approach to writing makes this a great listen.
Songs to check out: “Second Life”, “Infected Blood”, “Into The Words Of Chaos”.
(Online June 30, 2009)