Sweden’s Switchblade were known for years as a quarter, then a trio, but now with a founding member moving on to new things, the group have decided to continue on as a duo with Tim Bertilsson (drums) and Johan Folkesson (guitars) taking on the duties. Their brand new album on the Denovali label has them plodding down the instrumental demonic track with a three movement album where things get intense as the album goes on, from fierce guitar riffs to drums that sound like someone in a coalmine, eternally pounding until there is no more strength to pound.
Switchblade are joined on the album by a few other musicians, including Per Wilberg on the Hammond B-3, whose playing may be simplistic and almost borderline minimalist, but ends up becoming a mandatory drone for the vibe they are trying to create with this music, almost like a throbbing headache that doesn’t seem to want to leave, but you ride with it, knowing that part of the solution is taking the pain towards finding comfort. Just when you think the song is about to end, you realize that it’s one part of the same song morphing into the other, and things only go downhill (metaphorically) from there. Take on another ride.
While these guys may be called drone metal, they’re a bit more than that. To me, drone metal is playing one key and remaining there for the duration of the song or album. There’s a bit of melody in these slower-than-molasses tracks, but the path in order to get there is a test of endurance, and that’s the fun of it too. Understand their methods and you will understand the slow and irresistible path these two men are taking with their music.
(You can order the vinyl, CD, or MP3 versions of the self-titled Switchblade album, along with sampling a segment of “Movement II”, by clicking to Denovali.com.)