Switchtense - Confrontation Of Souls

I knew straight away that I would be getting something positively interesting and surprising when I first opened the envelope containing the debut full-length work of Portuguese group Switchtense called “Confrontation of Souls”. Usually, promos are shipped within a cardboard depicting the front cover of the record, the song titles and some info at the very best, yet Switchtense have graced me with the full digipack release, revealing one of the best artwork covers and inlays I’ve seen lately. So if this review would be based on the graphics alone they’d be getting full points from me, yet since it’s basically about the music that we all want to read about let me just reassure you that it is equally exciting and compelling. Most definitely one the best things I’ve heard coming from Portugal lately.
Whilst “Confrontation of Souls” presents nothing remotely new or original, what makes it so damn interesting to listen to is the unbridled aggression and ferocity with which Switchtense play their instruments throughout these eleven songs. No matter how hard you try to fight it, it’s impossible not to feel like we’re being crushed to a wall with all the unrelenting chaos bursting from the speakers.
The moment the opening intro piece that names the album “Confrontation of Souls” fades out and the first proper song “Infected Blood” kicks in at break-neck velocity spewing thrash-driven riffs with uncontrolled anger, it’s clear that Switchtense aren’t here to mess around and go straight to business as soon as each song starts. “Infected Blood” sees Switchtense merging a Slayer-derived riffage with chugging breakdowns, a combination that coupled with the raging vocals of Hugo Andrade works remarkably well. It’s pretty obvious that Slayer, especially circa their “Seasons in the Abyss”, have played a major influence on both guitarists Neto and Pardal as they constantly churn out crushing and vicious riffs that reminded me a lot of the interplay between Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman.
Throughout the remaining songs the Portuguese group continue to bulldoze us with fierce riffs and pummelling grooves, and even when they slow down the pace a tad, like in “This Misery” and the Lamb of God influenced “Origins of Darkness”, they still maintain a remarkable capacity to wreak a tremendous sonic devastation.
“Confrontation of Souls” clearly positions Switchtense as one of rare bands within a thrash/hardcore/death style worth paying attention to in 2009, so grab all your copies of your Unearths, Calibans and Cataracts and head to the nearest second-hand record store to trade them all for this near-essential release.

Band info: www.myspace.com/switchtenseportugal
Label info: www.rastilhorecords.com