Killswitch Engage – Disarm the Descent


killdisarmcdbigWhen bands change singers, strange things happen.  Usually fans and critics are divided into two camps, one of which is adamant about how much better the original vocalist was and the other side is equally adamant about how much better the new vocalist is.  Killswitch Engage is a band in that same situation with the release of Disarm the Descent as this album marks the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach.    A less than scientific survey of thoughts on the album catalog of Killswitch Engage reveals that the majority of critics and fans feel that Alive or Just Breathing (2002) was the band’s best work and since that album features Jesse Leach on vocals, it’s easy to imagine the anticipation for Disarm the Descent.

From my perspective, I never listened to Killswitch Engage until The End of Heartache which featured Howard Jones on vocals, so I don’t have this Alive or Just Breathing bias by any means.  After all, as reviewers we should be free from bias anyways, right?  Of course, we all know that is not entirely true, but at least I don’t have this particular bias. I still do like The End of Heartache with its combination of thundering riffs, soaring choruses, and intense screaming vocals on the verses.  Howard Jones’ vocals fit the metalcore genre very well and Adam Dutkiewicz has always had a knack for creating great riffs and songs that can switch from calm to crushing in an instant.  For Killswitch Engage fans, there is a lot to like on Disarm the Descent as the songs are very much like you would come to expect from the band.  There does seem to be a heavier element present in some of the songs and in overall feel, almost as if Killswitch Engage is making a conscious shift to a sound more akin to As I Lay Dying.

The album roars to life with “The Hell in Me” with blast beats, ferocious riffing and vocals a lot heavier than I was expecting, but then the song shifts into some clean vocals from Jesse Leach, again that I wasn’t expecting as they remind me a bit of Courtney Anderson (Sinai Beach) with maybe a hint of older Danzig.  After the beginning ,the song does fall into the standard song structure for Killswitch Engage, which by this point, you either love or hate.

The album is filled with some great riffs and guitar work that definitely inspire movement.  Song structure is very similar and seems to be almost formulaic.  Songs typically start out with some awesome, fast heavy riffs and screaming vocals then shift into clean choruses with nice harmonies, and finally turn into a breakdown section with more shouting/screaming vocals and the occasional guitar solo.  There is nothing wrong with this and Killswitch Engage are certainly masterful at putting together these songs.   “Always” is the one slower song on the album that seems a bit out of place, almost like the power ballads that used to be on every metal album in the 1980’s.  The song is decent and has a certain dark vibe to it, but still seems a bit out of place, while it does help showcase Jesse Leach’s vocals a bit more than perhaps the rest of the album as it is so different.

Production quality is exceptional and the musicianship is top-notch.  If you are a long-time fan of Killswitch Engage or like heavy, fast music and are unfamiliar with the metalcore genre, you will enjoy this album.  The return of Jesse Leach to vocal duties has not hurt the band at all, and his vocals actually may be better suited for the slightly heavier sound on this album than Howard Jones’.  For me, the one complaint I have it that none of the songs really stand out as memorable, the album seems to blend together and sounds like any other Killswitch Engage album.  This one may be leaning toward the heavier side compared to other albums in their catalog, but to me, these songs could have come from any of the albums I have heard.

Rating: 6/10

1. The Hell In Me
2. Beyond the Flames
3. The New Awakening
4. In Due Time
5. A Tribute to the Fallen
6. Turning Point
7. All We Have
8. You Don’t Bleed for Me
9. The Call
10. No End in Sight
11. Always
12. Time Will Not Remain

Band Members:
Adam Dutkiewicz – Guitar
Joel Stroetzel – Guitar
Mike D’Antonio – Bass
Jesse Leach – Vocals
Justin Foley – Drums

Record Label: RoadRunner Records, April 2013

Weblinks: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
USA: Metal Helm

Video for “In Due Time”:


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