So, my good friend over at Metal Temple, Lior “Steinmetal” Stein asked me to check out a band…his. I am not always a fan of this type of situation for a couple of reasons: 1. Someone has put their heart and soul into something very personal, and if I don’t like it, and their skin is thin, it could get awkward. 2. I could actually love it, and they’ll never know for sure, because some part of them will always wonder if I’m just being nice to save a friendship. Me personally? I’d rather you tell me I suck, but that’s just me. So with all that said, let’s have a gander at Switchblade, and their forthcoming debut album Heavy Weapons.
Clearly the band’s collective hearts are in the glory days of yesteryear, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are copious amounts of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and some other NWOBHM thrown into the mix, and there is no shortage of rocking out to be found. The guitars are beefy, the drums crisp, and the overall production gives it a warm 80’s feel. Also, Lior’s vocals are very high up in the mix. This is at times a blessing and a curse.
His voice is fine, don’t get me wrong, just a tad overwhelming at times. Once you’re on the third listen or so, you should be used to it, though. Leadoff and title track “Heavy Weapons” is a hard-charging affair that sets the tone perfectly for the metal journey we’re about to embark on. “Euphoria” employs a dancing riff that wraps itself around the song like a coiled snake, and on this one, both Lior and the band are channeling their best Bruce Dickinson-era Maiden. I was taken aback at first, but that riff truly sucked me in and it’s a very good song. However, despite its good riffage, I really was not a fan of “Metalista”. From the title to the choruses, it’s just been done before.
The same holds true for “Lost Lovers Unite”. It comes across like your typical 80’s quasi-ballad, and also mines the Maiden well once too often. I couldn’t get into it, try as I might. Luckily, “The Lost Kingdom” gets us quickly back on track, an instrumental that rocks hard and takes us right into new single “Infernal Paradise” which is another bright spot on the record. The riff is dirty, dirty, dirty, and the band, particularly drummer Moshpit, really ramp things up for this one.
“Curse of the Father, Sins of the Son” was instantly one of my two favorites. It’s one of the faster numbers, and Lior sounds his best here, no question. Guitarist Federico “FedeRock” Taich, Moshpit, and bassist Sascha Latman are stuck together like glue; where one goes, they all follow. “Into the Unknown” is another well-played song, the only knock against it being the familiarity at times, particularly at the two minute mark. This is the last Maiden comparison I’ll make, I promise.
My other favorite was closer “Endless War”. This is also the first one I heard and it made me want to listen further. On this song, the band achieves perfect balance, both in playing and overall mix. Overall, I liked Heavy Weapons. Switchblade know who they are, they know what they’re about, and they play what they love. For that they are to be applauded, even if the songs don’t always resonate with me. But there’s enough of a good back-in-the-day type vibe here that it certainly warrants repeat listenings.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Endless War”, “Curse of the Father, Sins of the Son”, “Infernal Paradise”