Having abandoned their barely pronounceable former name, this Swedish quartet has now released their third album under the new name Switch Opens. An intense, earnest and highly experimental affair it makes a bold stab at conceptualism from the very first track. Putting you off kilter with a deceptively simplistic dance-tingled electronica set over a propulsive punk groove, the opener “Express Death” discards the clever disguise after the first few minutes to reveal what this release is really about. This is where we get the first whiff of the band’s trademark heavy stoner riffs, neurotic minimalist guitar and a propensity towards prog-rock avant-garde.
It all continues from then on: more stoner-inspired grooves, more dirty and deliberately crude guitar leads, plus oscillations of singer Jasper Skarin’s voice between crisp and airy indie rock tone and borderline growling. The latter, however, he has enough intelligence not to overdo or to engage in too often.
Cutting through fleeting obsessions with Eastern modalities, punk riffs and brief nods to Black Sabbath, the magnum opus of the record, “Terra Incognita”, finally reveals the band’s real ambition. While knowing how to amuse, Switch Opens also want to reach beyond the servile function of pure entertainment and even beyond experimentation, and on this track they dig deeper into the realm of pure conceptualism.
Technique makes a sizable step back to make way for sound and rhythm striving toward a purpose beyond genres, styles and purposes they serve. The concept is to create an inimitable atmosphere while discarding any allegiance to history or tradition. Amazingly, here the band succeeds, and their stabs in different stylistic directions and experiments with creating their own environment, work.
In the end, this release proves a fascinating record to get into – unexpected, well-thought-through and with an element of surprise lurking around ever corner. The band’s eclectic choices which drive them to go from doom metal to folk and from contemporary phsychedelia to industrial music and beyond is what keeps you on your toes. Once they learn who to consistently cohere these at times conflicting urges into one whole, we will be able to call this band a revelation. So far they remain a tantalisingly intriguing band and definitely the one you would want to catch up on live – just to see how the motley tapestry of their eclectic style would survive outside of the studio.
- Alissa Ordabai