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Switchblade - Switchblade [2009] - 80%

ThrashManiacAYD, October 16th, 2009

You know how it seems some people's sole objective in life is to make things more complicated and more difficult for those around them, and always for no apparent reason? Well welcome to the musical world's equivalent of that person: Swedish droning doomsters Switchblade. Having formed back in 1997, Switchblade have, including this release, 2 EPs, 1 split, 5 LPs, 1 single, 1 DVD and 1 compilation album and every single one of those is simply titled “Switchblade”. And it gets worse. Since 2001's second full-length the band have decided that song titles, along with album titles, are for wimps and posers only and have thus named every song since the corresponding Roman numeral to it's position on the release or the length of the song itself. Thus we are left with classics like "08:41" from "Switchblade", "IV" off "Switchblade" and "19:30", also from "Switchblade", which is confusingly technically 26:36 long, and not 19:30, at least according to the fabled Metal Archives. My head is hurting.

If you thought after all that discographical shenanigans you could sit down in your dressing gown and slippers and relax to some soothing Europop, then you're outta luck punk. Switchblade's music is about as brain-frazzling as working out what's going on in their back catalogue. "Switchblade" [2009] comprises of just 3 songs in 49 minutes of dreadfully slow, lethargic doom 100% guaranteed to bore the knackers off everyone who even made it past that first paragraph. Really any 2-minute segment could be used as an example of how little you will hear in that time but lets use the middle section of "II". In a style comparable to Burning Witch minus the demented tortured screams which make them so fun/painful to listen to, long periods plod along with down-tuned guitar and bass strums playing a slow game of tennis against Tim Bertilsson's drum beats, each returning the continuance of the song to each other with clear chinks of time evident in between each stroke. When the tempo is upped from "he's dead, let's bury him" to "did he just blink? Ah fuck it, he's probably dead, bury him anyway" the classification of the guitar work into distinguishable riffs is difficult. Without the world of amplification we would have no drone doom as the feedback from each droning guitar strum is given much freedom to spread it's wings before it's successor is released, giving the feel that only playing the album on fast-forward would any noticeable 'riffs' emerge.

The emergence of "III" does bring forth a very bass-heavy certifiable riff so reminiscent of Sunn O)))'s work, especially with Boris on 2006's excellent "Altar", that you begin to realise why they are held in such high esteem. From listens to this release alone Switchblade don't quite harbour the panache of a Burning Witch, the ethereal otherworldliness of slowest Reverend Bizarre or the drug-addled dementia of Esoteric but in commitment to the cause of slooooooow they cannot be questioned.

How good is this then? You'll never get a party going listening to it and all but the hardened doomsters will reel back in horror but despite all that, there is something to be had in well-executed intensely slow droning doom such as this. Just like some people think water-sports are a fun bedroom activity, drone doom has it's fans and I think I'll be adding "Switchblade" [2009] to my playlist of suicidal despondency for when those occasions inevitably arise.

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net