Switchblade – Heavy Weapons (Album Review)

SWITCHBLADE is a Heavy Metal band from Israel. They formed in 2005 and released their first official digital single in 2011 titled ‘Endless War/Euphoria’. Soon after they released another digital single ‘Metalista’ which earned SWITCHBLADE considerable exposure within local and international metal communities. Following the ‘Metalista’ single, SWITCHBLADE competed in the ‘Wacken Metal Battle’ for a spot on the 2011 ‘Wacken Open Air’ lineup, however, their efforts were unsuccessful. Although SWITCHBLADE did not win the competition, they received a lot of exposure from their involvement. SWITCHBLADE continued to focus on writing their debut album and were signed to Killer Metal Records in 2013. SWITCHBLADE released their debut album ‘Heavy Weapons’ on November 29th, 2013.

I’m going to be totally honest with this review because I am a fair critic. If I think a band is great, I will encourage their efforts in a detailed manner. Similarly, if I think a band has a poor sound, I will explain exactly why I believe that. These are only my opinions; what I believe.

I struggled to listen to this album. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had agreed to write this review, I would have turned it off before I even got through the first song. That isn’t due to a lack of talent, this band possesses a lot. It’s because one central part of the band subtracts from every other part. Lior “Steinmetal” Stein’s vocals are not good. All I hear is a mediocre Bruce Dickinson/Ronnie James Dio with a bit of Axl Rose thrown in. Do you get what I’m saying? Yeah, it’s not a good sound. It seems like Stein tries to sing higher than his voice is comfortable with. If Stein is going to stick with this vocal style, he must learn to hit the notes. This vocal performance might have been accepted in the ’80s but I personally can’t stomach it in 2013. Still, don’t get me wrong – I think Stein has potential. Vocal lessons could do a lot for the overall sound of this band. It really was hard to look past his vocals and appreciate the rest of the band but I persevered.

The instrumental aspect of ‘Heavy Weapons’ is amazing.

The drums were my favorite part, or maybe the guitars… to be honest, it was all great. A tight rhythm section provides the foundation for guitarist Federico “FedeRock” Taich to experiment with some air-guitar inspiring lead work. The guitar tracks throughout ‘Heavy Weapons’ sound tight; there are powerful riffs, wicked harmonies and dual guitar solos throughout the album. Taich plays all rhythm and leads guitar tracks on ‘Heavy Weapons’, he plays them well. Listening to ‘Heavy Weapons’ I get the feeling that Taich is also the primary songwriter/arranger of SWITCHBLADE. It just has that guitar-oriented feel to the music that 80’s metal fans have become so familiar with. However, drummer Mosche ‘Moshpit’ Sabach was an outstanding instrumentalist in my opinion. He has clearly invested countless hours into his technique. Sabach’s drumming has a precise, metronomic feel to it – even during his lightning-fast drum fills. I would compare him to Dave McClain of Machine Head. Bassist Sacha Latman tends to follow the rhythm guitar but occasionally he branches out on some fairly radical individual lines. Latman’s bass tone is decent and he locks in well with Sabach’s drumming. There really isn’t much more to say about the bass on this album.

I actually didn’t mind ‘Heavy weapons’ until Stein started singing – then I was incredibly put off. That set the tone for the rest of the album. Also, it sounds like Latman’s bass is out of key during part of the title track’s chorus. To be highly critical, it seems like they sampled a bit too heavily from Metallica with ‘Lost Lovers Unite’ but I’ll let you listen and decide (check out the intro & outro of that song). Unfortunately, I just can’t look past the vocals and say that ‘Heavy Weapons’ is a good album. If the vocals were up to scratch, there is every chance I’d be able to give this album 4 roos (stars) out of five but as it stands I’m only happy to give it 2.5 out of 5.

Switchblade: Facebook

Release Year: 2013
Label: Killer Metal Records
Category: Album
Country: Israel

Reviewed by Matt Evans