Monday, January 30, 2006

Switched - Ghosts in the Machine CD Review

Nu-metal, today, seems like such an old genre, even though its genesis was only about 15 or so years ago. It’s reached the point in its life cycle at which it has had its heyday, fallen out of favor with the masses, and now even has a, dare I say it, post-nu-metal genre that is slowly finding its way into circulation. But let’s forget all this talk about the ebbing and flowing of one of the metal family’s black sheep for now and think back to when it was all the rage.

Remember when Korn was cool? Or when you couldn’t go a day without hearing Drowning Pool, Static-X, Rob Zombie, or Mudvayne on MTV, rock radio, or your newly growing MP3 collection? Or when you weren’t a heavy band unless you were playing guitars that were drop-tuned at least one step or thumping on a five string bass? Yeah, those were the days, weren’t they? Ok, so maybe they weren’t all that great, but they certainly did happen.

It’s those days of nu-metal yore from which the newest offering by Switched, Ghosts in the Machine, sounds like it belongs in. In a time when rarely a nu-metal band remains standing, and those that are still around have either adopted a metalcore edge or experimented themselves to death, Switched confidently offers up a disc of finished demos, b-sides, and rarities—all of which are overloaded with chunky, detuned riffs, friendly screams over melodic vocals, and the standard verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus x2 formula that you haven’t probably heard since high school.

Oddly, as hard as it is to fathom, it’s almost a breath of fresh air to have a cd like this come across my review desk, but as fresh as that air may be at first, it manages to get really stale really fast. There’s a reason that this style of music isn’t all that popular any more—the utter simplicity of it. The songs all feel so similar and sound so much like a mish mash of other nu-metal bands that have come before that you wish for any type of identity to surface… but it never does. In fact, on about half of the songs, it’s really hard not to think these guys are actually Skrape in disguise.

Subject to Change, Switched’s debut album, was somewhat average (not too bad) for its era. It never caught on, though, because it didn’t differentiate itself from the pack enough. Neither did their EP, Spread Your EP. This cd, no doubt put together for Switched fans and people still clinging to the nu-metal genre, when listened to is like glimpsing a piece of history. It’s akin to opening a musical time capsule that shows us what music used to be like back in the day so we can make comparisons and see how far we’ve come.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a bad release, but it’s definitely one that will have a quite narrow market to be distributed within. Nu-metal does have its fans still, as hard as it is to believe, and for a classically styled nu-metal release this isn’t terrible, but anyone who has been even moderately savvy when it comes to buying and listening to music during the last few years will find themselves downright disappointed.

No comments: