Switchblade - [2012]

3 songs
36:53 minutes
***** **


Three years after their last release, Switchblade are back with their meanwhile sixth self-titled album. For clarity’s sake, it is being referred to as [2012]. Since last time, the band shrunk from three to two musicians, leaving us with two grim looking, moustachioed gentlemen on guitar and drums. But don’t worry!, the guitar has been tuned so low that you don’t miss the bass guitar.

To make for a fuller sound, the Swedish duo hired the vocal services of The Cuckoo (Terra Tenebrosa), David Johansson (Kongh, The Eternal Void), Lord Seth (formerly of Katatonia), plus, more importantly, keyboarder Per Wiberg (Opeth, Spiritual Beggars, Clutch, Candlemass). It is the latter who helps to add a certain Seventies touch with his frequent Hammond organ parts.

Otherwise, not that much has changed in the last three years. Switchblade are still advocates of epic mammoth slabs of music. The three tracks are simply titled Movement I, II & III, and all run between ten and fifteen minutes. The main ingredients are doom, drone and sludge metal. The general is extremely slow and sluggish. The guitar riffs are crawling like a wall of lava, supported by monolithic drumming. Occasionally there is even some time for respite when the drums take a break, leaving the guitar to build up another excruciatingly slow torrent of riffs.

The sparse but of course diverse vocals add a welcome variety, and especially guest musicians Per Wiberg’s psychedelic influence will let you understand why this band is inspired by the likes of Autopsy, Celtic Frost,… and Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath. This may sound unusual, even unlikely, but after listening to [2012], you will make perfect sense of it.

All in all, this album sees Switchblade back in form, without though truly reinventing their music… not that anyone would have truly expected it. There are some touches of innovation that should make sure that the old fanbase will still be looking forward to this new sign of life, while newcomers to the band should also find quite an easy access without needing any prior knowledge. Thirty-seven minutes may seem a little short maybe, but the intensity of the three movements definitely make up for this small flaw.

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