January 8, 2006

CD Review: Switched - Ghosts in the Machine

Have you ever heard of Switched? I can say that I hadn't until this set arrived at my door. I even asked a few of my friends if they had heard of them, they all responded negatively. Somebody must have liked this blink and miss them band, or else we wouldn't have this two disk collection of unreleased material, including some demos and live tracks. I'm not trying to speak ill of the band, just that there are a lot of bands that come and go that no one had ever heard of, or been given a chance to become a fan of. To an extent I blame the industry, they constantly shove so much lowest common denominator pop stuff down our throats that a lot of acts just get swallowed up by the abyss. It is a testament to labels such as Corporate Punishment, who put this out, and others like Century Media who are dedicated to lesser known bands and styles that are not in the mainstream. Ghosts in the Machine compiles recordings from prior to their major label debut and 2004, when they hung it up and went their separate ways. Disk one are the songs from the aborted sophomore release and disk two are pre-debut demos and live tracks. This set is my first experience with the Cleveland rockers, and the result is a mixed bag.

The first disk is a mix of heavy riffing and raging vocals and the more melodic side of the current metal scene. There is some good stuff in here, although, in the end it did not leave that much of an impression.

It opens strong with "Save Myself." It starts a drum groove for a few measures before a chugging guitar riff enters the mix, and finally a raging voice coming in over it all. The song keeps the heaviness at the forefront for most of the song with a few forays into a slightly softer and more melodic edge. Most of the rest remains in a slightly less heavy vein, keeping the mix tilted towards the more melodic.

Despite the lack of anything really standout, they do come together well. The music is tight and well written, I can't quite put my finger on it, but they don't have that one defining song. You know, the kind of song that gets stuck in your head and refuses to leave. "Who Feels," with its Incubus-like feel comes close, but doesn't quite make it.

Taken as a whole, the songs here would probably rank slightly better than your average nu-metal type act. If they had more time to develop and grow as a band, I would have said that they could develop into something really good down the line. Sadly, they are all off on other projects now, so whatever Switched could have been was cut short. They had all of the tools needed, they had a good grasp on the balance between heaviness and melody, they had the musicianship, and their songwriting was not bad, with some polishing perhaps they would have found that breakthrough song.

The second disk turns back the Switched clock, delivering some pre-debut demo cuts of tracks from that first album. The disk also incorporates a few live tracks. The best cut here, demo or otherwise, is "Anymore." It has a good groove and plays the fine line between the crunchy heaviness and the needed melody. The tracks are a bit rough and under produced, which is what you would expect from a demo, yet does a good job at capturing the unfettered potential possessed by these guys. The live tracks captures the essence of intensity bottled within them. I get the impression that they put on a hell of a live show, but I will never get to see if that holds true.

Bottomline. These guys had the potential, yet lacked that one killer song, in my estimation. This is, however, a nice collection of music. A treat for the fans and an introduction to potential never realized.

Mildly Recommended.


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