Portuguese metalers Switchtense do everything right on their self titled second album, jamming it with mind scorching melodies and grooves whilst pummelling the recipient with wall crumbling riffs and senses numbing intensity. Unrelenting, powerful and intrusive it occupies every corner of the senses as it levels all resistance to its overwhelming violent energy. Despite this and the fact it is a mighty fine album there is still the strong feeling of disappointment and the impression there is much more within the band and their creativity that was left untapped. It seems strange praising the album highly whilst still being dissatisfied enough to feel a little ‘let down’, but for all the great assets and craft the album brings forth and there are plenty, it lacks that uniqueness and adventure to make Switchtense what could have been a classic.
Switchtense were formed in 2002 by vocalist Hugo Andrade and Rui Caria, and with further additions striking out with their heavy trash/metal brutal sounds. 2005 saw guitarist Nuno Pardal join the band and their debut EP Brainwash Show recorded and released. The following year the band doubled their guitarist quota with Neto being added to the ranks and all the time shows, tours and festival appearances with the likes of Napalm Death, Textures, and Caliban spreading the band’s name, sound and reputation. In 2007 drummer Xines joined and the next year the band entered the studio with producer Daniel Cardoso to record Confrontation Of Souls, the debut album being released via Rastilho Records in the February of 2009. More stage sharing with bands such as Soulfly, Devildriver, and Hatesphere marked the rest of the year and into 2010, Switchtense lighting up more and more metal toned ears.
The band’s follow up album to the further acclaimed Confrontation Of Souls was recorded again with Cardoso during February and March of 2011 and available again through Rastilho Records, the release sure to enforce the strong fervour and respect they have accumulated over previous years. Switchtense hits the mark with its Lamb of God, Slayer and Hatesphere like relentless assault sending rushing rhythms and formidable riffs directly through the ear with surety and determination to involve every aspect of the listener in its colossal rampage. From opening track ‘Concrete Walls’ right through to the overwhelming closer ‘Awaiting The Downfall’ the album is relentless in its intensity. As mentioned earlier everything is as it should be, malicious and devastating in power and caustically venomous melodically, and each track tremendously enjoyable and satisfying.
Songs like the partly anthemic ‘Face Off’ and the continuously badgering ‘Unbreakable’ send enthused reactions throughout the senses easily equalled by the likes of ‘The Legacy Of Hate’ with its evil intent and the album’s best track ‘This is Only The Beginning ‘,a song full of potent and dangerous eager energy. The album brings track after track of fine metal and thrash fervent sounds that do nothing but please making Switchtense a very strong and agreeable release. For all of this though as said before there feels like something is missing, the inner spark from the band to elevate the album and themselves to the higher echelons of the genre.
The album is excellent that is the notable thing to take on board it just also seems like a missed opportunity for the band to really explode outward. As the release plays it often teases and suggests it is about to erupt into something devastatingly special but always just holds back to create a thrilling album but not the exhilarating one it could have seemingly been. To be fair it still impresses far more than the majority of releases brought forth this year and leads to strong anticipation for the next release from Switchtense, when they may really take metal by the scruff of the neck.