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Switchblade Jesus - Death Hymns

Switchblade Jesus
Death Hymns
by Andrew Harvey at 05 August 2021, 3:14 PM

SWITCHBLADE JESUS are an incredible rock trio from the city of Corpus Christi, Texas (USA). Their music is certainly full of adrenaline rush which is a “blend of sludge and stoner grooves”. They have also been active since 2010, with their self-titled debut album released in 2013 online(CD format released in 2015) but in the period between 2017 - ‘19 it was just a few demo releases. Perhaps they decided to take the time to stay active but not jump ahead of themselves into releasing another album.

In terms of their musicality, their self-titled album was described very well as “a sound lineage that encompasses early MASTODON and HIGH ON FIRE”. But after a few years for the band to mentally prepare for their next big release, they have now of course done so with their second album to date, DEATH HYMNS which was released digitally in November 2020. It was made available in CD/vinyl format in late June and it was released through Hybrid Records.

The intro to this album, “Scorched” is merely a sonic palette of a drone or looped sound effect merging with the stoner rock we heard in their first album. The first track is sonically well crafted together to blend that sludge of guitar with aspects of garage rock drum patterns. The quick cymbal hits especially now progresses into the next track as we move onto the rest of the album.

“Red Plains” the second part to this album is very impressive and brings the best this band has to offer. The lyrical content is certainly kick-ass, guitar bridges the elements together with a soloistic backbeat of drums. Guitar especially makes the rhythm more of a swing feel but still in the regular time structure of straight 4/4 rock.

“Behind The Monolith” fires us into a rather dramatic drum solo tangled with guitar pitch shifts. The guitar acts as the narrative in this track with a more progressive or hardcore rock influence. Perhap there are more post punk inspired riffs and patterns with guitar, bass and drums. “Death Hymns” being the title of this album, the track itself reverts back to the sonic palette we first heard at the beginning of this album. More of an echo or long reverb of guitar playing with bass providing the tone of this track, the mood is darker and more haunting.

“Forgotten” features revolving drone sound effects, so a more sonically produced track before guitar and drums cut through. In addition to this it also sounds like there is a rough recording of a well known speech which was originally spoken by the infamous ROBERT J. OPPENHEIMER. “Behemoth” consists of a bass heavy drum groove providing that boominess with vicious guitar hooks. Even the wild guitar solos and amplifier effects give this track more of the garage rock texture into the mix with all the other instruments.

“The Blackened Sun” does keep this garage rock sound consistent and the continuity of the mix with perhaps a touch of that engaging psychedelic rock approach. So once you take this album and compared to their previous self-titled album, it’s certainly a big leap into more experimental effects and the route the album takes, does have that sonically well balanced edge. I did enjoy this album as much as I listened to the first album too and it comes down to the fact that the stoner rock sound is here to stay. We don’t often get these types of bands but overall, a stunning album with great tonal qualities.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 9
Overall: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Scorched
2. Red Plains
3. Behind The Monolith
4. Death Hymns
5. Forgotten
6. Behemoth
7. The Blackened Sun
Eric Calvert - Vocals and Guitar
Chris Black - Bass
Jon Elizondo - Drums
Record Label: Hybrid Records


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