Australia's heavy metal scene is at its highest as we speak, with lots of established and upcoming bands from every state delivering songs and albums that could be put up against any of the world's best.
Switchblade is definitely no exception. In Invictus Infinitum they have delivered a world class follow-up to their crushing 2005 debut The End Of All Once Known.
Setting the calm before the storm with the ominous, yet ambient introduction piece II, the band get right down to business and smash right into the barrage that is Revelation. This track really sets the scene for the rest of the album: intense riffage, deep growled vocals and pure dominance - all in a five-minute piece.
Musically, Switchblade prove themselves to be as talented and technical as their peers; even more so at times. The fretwork of guitarists Andrew Najdek and Anthony Delvecchio is excecuted with the highest levels of precision and technique - the lead work is absolutely insane, it will have you air shredding and sweeping in no time. Coil Of The Serpent is a perfect example of the fretboard wizardry at it's finest, the rhythm section of bassist Gerard Dack and drummer Mat Piccolotto is tight and runs like a fine tuned engine: keeping the rhythm without missing a beat, while making their own impressions on the listener. Vocalist Adam Helmrich puts his stamp on the album with his gutteral and powerful vocal style, which brings it all together as one precise unit.
There are some killer cuts on this album: the fast paced thrash inspired Lacerate, the groove metal-styled The Cancer Benign, which reminds me of a much better Lamb Of God; Impure Design, which reminds me of old school Fear Factory; and the closing track - the darker As The Sun Dies.
Nevermore's Jeff Loomis drops in and lays down a blistering solo on the track Reflective Curse. I am willing to bet many guitarists hear this solo and just want to smash their guitars in frustration and disbelief; it proves Jeff Loomis's consideration as a guitar god, as he puts his golden touch on an already killer track.
The artwork and packaging on this album is mind blowingly professional. I was surprised the promo copy came this way - I was expecting a CD in a paper slip case, yet what I got was packaging reminiscent of a Century Media or Nuclear Blast product - a jewelcase with a detailed booklet, with amazing layout and artwork, all topped off by a neat looking slipcase.
The production on this album is also excellent. The album was recorded and engineered by Darren "Jenk" Jenkins (former drummer of Aussie thrash legends Cryogenic) mixed by legendary world renowned producer Neil Kernon (Cannibal Corpse, Queensryche, Nevermore) and mastered by Alan Douches (Kataklysm, Black Dahlia Murder, Nile). This team has gone out of the way to give us the best Switchblade musical offering to date.
All in all, Invictus Infinitum is a fine piece of musical artwork, but as crushing as it is on the album, you have to see them live as well. Hopefully Invictus Infinitum will lead to bigger and better things for the guys. If there is a bar in Australian metal, Switchblade have just gone and raised it a few more notches. International bands better keep their eyes open as well, because Switchblade could well be giving them a run for their money.
Switchblade's Invictus Infinitum is out now on Amphead.