Switchtense: Metalcore Revivalists

Switchtense: Metalcore Revivalists

It’s a fusion that has been laboriously duplicated in heavy metal scenes across the world. While some consider hardcore-infused heavy metal to be wonderfully energetic, others see it as a tiresome mix of chug-chug riffs and exhaustive breakdowns. But while ‘metalcore’ [as it is known] has been recognised to produce seemingly mindless clones, bands such as Portugal’s Switchtensehave revitalised the somewhat conventional subgenre. Since the release of their debut album Confrontation of Souls in 2009, Switchtense has made a commendable impact on the rising metal scene in Portugal. Their latest self-titled album is an extension of their already solid reputation, providing a uniquely aggressive fusion of speed metal and hardcore.

Opening with the dramatic ‘Concrete Walls‘, the song appears to be almost metaphorical – hard and heavy! Riddled with the characteristic chug-chug riffs that are largely reminiscent of American counterparts Lamb of God, the song is a wonderful indication of the musical concepts driving the rest of the album. While there is an evident sonic resemblance to other metalcore bands, Switchtense avoids the conventions of their subgenre through a more progressive, thrash metal style and by steering clear of the notorious breakdown-style of their predecessors.

Songs such as ‘Concrete Walls‘ and ‘Legacy of Hate‘ are enriched with a mixture of prodigious riffs and vocal performances, while ‘This is Only the Beginning‘ and ‘Scars of Attitude‘ illuminate the technically and musically impressive rhythmic feats of drummer Xines.

While evidently driven by catchy riffs, the best thing about this album is a noticeable desire to place each instrument into the spotlight rather than give precedence to the guitar. In songs such as ‘Face Off‘ and ‘Legacy of Hate‘, the guitar solos are perfectly embedded into the rhythmic backbone of the song, allowing for the vocals to take a predominant role. Supported by wonderfully sharp production courtesy of Daniel Cardoso [Angelus Apatrida, Ava Inferi, Heavenwood], the album is entertainingly invigorating, unlike many other metalcore albums released over the years.

Despite the fact the band do make good use of the characteristic elements of the metalcore subgenre, Switchtense’s latest release brings new life into a horribly exhausted style of metal and casts optimism onto the overall heavy metal scene. While the album could be potentially overlooked by metalcore cynics, Switchtense’s fast-paced fusion of thrash, speed and progressive metal should be sufficient enough to tickle the interests of any heavy metal fan.

Switchtense is out now through Rastilho Records.

Album: Switchtense

Release: 9 May 2011

  1. Concrete Walls
  2. Face Off
  3. Living a Lie
  4. In Front of Your Eyes
  5. Unbreakable
  6. Head of State
  7. This is Only the Beginning
  8. Let Them Die Alone
  9. Scars of Attitude
  10. I Will Stand Stronger
  11. The Legacy of Hate
  12. Awaiting the Downfall

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