Metalcore band Killswitch Engage released their latest album, aptly titled “Killswitch Engage”, on June 30th. This album is another step up, as the band looks to reinvent themselves yet again, and they do a successful job breaking some new ground on this album.
There are a handful of bands I follow with a pretty watchful eye, and Killswitch Engage just so happen to be one of those bands. While their particular brand of music as a whole does not appeal to me, this band does, for a number of reasons.
While most bands of this type want to play nothing but faster and faster, and scream louder and louder, KE doesn’t fall into that trap. They happen to play this style of music, but they aren’t defined by it. In fact, they define the style.
With each album they release, the band finely tunes themselves and produce an outstanding record. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that they aren’t exactly changing things on the surface. And people who know me will know that I typically hold a strong disdain for bands that continue to produce the same album every two years, and this album sounds an awful lot like their previous efforts “As Daylight Dies” and “The End of Heartache”, which is not a bad thing at all. Those are both fantastic albums, and this is lucky to be in such lofty company. My defense of this band is that because as much as things stay the same, or seem to in the case of Killswitch Engage’s albums, a lot changes. This album is perhaps their finest work to date, as they have supplemented even more so their harsh metal”core”, in favor of a more directed, and all around better flowing album.
The band provides the listener with a nuanced form of this genre of music, something most people, myself included, thought a near impossible task. The chief strength of this band is vocalist Howard Jones. When I was first exposed to the band, in the credit sequence to the movie “Freddy vs. Jason” of all places, the thing I felt distinguished this band from their counterparts was that Jones provides a strong, and very listenable singing voice, coupled with the more “screamy” parts, that makes KE’s music sounds much more melodic, much more pleasing, to the ears. I find it somewhat ironic that Jones is actually the second vocalist for the band (after their first two albums), and that their popularity sky-rocketed after he was brought on board. They are globally popular, which for this type of music, is a phenomenal accomplishment.
The guitar work has always been strong for Killswitch Engage, and Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel provide another remarkable outing here. Their style has evolved to the point where they focus less on playing fast and harsh, and more on melodic and creative. “The Return” and “Lost” are both great examples of the two melding styles together, and always surprising the listener with where they choose to take their guitar work.
As a drummer myself, I’ve always been impressed with the work of Justin Foley, and I believe he’s well on his way to being recognized as the envelope pushing head pounder (minds out of the gutter, people!) that he is. He is especially strong on this album, as he carries each song quickly and heavily, while never neglecting that double-bass pedal. I would love to see him play live, because he sounds like he absolutely works his ass off behind that drum kit. “Starting Over” truly shows of what Foley is capable of behind that set, and it’s extraordinary.
As a whole, this album seems to have a better flow to it than the bands previous two albums, which always seem to start out amazingly for about 6 songs, then they sort of lose steam for a song or two and get a little repetitive, and then they pick back up to finish strong. The producer of this album was Brendan OBrien, who has worked with the likes of Rage Against the Machine, AC/DC, and Stone Temple Pilots, and this effort definitely seems to be more focused, more polished, and overall, fantastic.
The album ends with the song, “This is Goodbye”, and lets hope this isn’t an apt title when it comes to this band. Because they have plenty of ground left to break, plenty of skulls to bust, plenty of music to make. I already can’t wait to see where they go next.
This is a must own for any Killswitch Engage fan, as the band has truly produced yet another heavy metal gem. It’s lyrically strong, musically heavy, vocally diverse, and the production is top-notch. Even if you aren’t a fan of Killswitch Engage’s brand of music, I suggest you give them a shot, and start with this album. If you are a fan of old school metal, but new school sound, Killswitch Engage is PERFECT. They mesh the old and new school together flawlessly, and they have so much to offer the listener. This album is a perfect snapshot of what the band is, and what they bring to the listener’s eardrums. They bring a heavy metal sound to your ears, while also managing to be melodic and musical, instead of just screaming bloody murder about something disgusting or perverse. I can’t wait to see where this band goes with their career, and I can only hope that this group of musicians decides that their formula works, and that they continue to make fantastic music for us fans. Because each time out, they hit a home run.
Score: 7.75/10 (Really Good)