Disarm the Descent (Roadrunner)
In what is hailed as one of the most anticipated albums of 2013, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE finally drops their comeback album with original vocalist JESSE LEACH. When you approach an album that has high expectations such as this one, it’s always interesting to see if a band, especially an established on can rise to the challenge. Not only has KsE turned in a great album, but one that will rank among their finest when their careers are over. If you loved Jesse’s first turn in the band, you will love this album. If you came on board with HOWARD JONES, you will find a lot to enjoy also. If you never liked this band in the first place…move along, nothing to see here and have a nice day.
The very first thing that will impress you about the album is how balls out heavy the band sounds, compared to the last batch of KsE albums. Either as a by-product of being rejuvenated by Jesse’s return, or if they were heading back towards a heavier style, it works. From the opening screaming howl of “The Hell In Me” and the main riff battering your ears, you can just feel the energy coming off the track. Jesse sounds terrific whether he screams or lets his great melodic chops shine. The song sounds exactly like it could have come off of Alive of Just Breathing for many reasons: killer riffs, Jesse’s voice, half-time breakdowns, great chorus etc. Even the lyrics are excellent, it is pretty much as flawless track. The song is over before you know it and you kind of wish it would go on and on.
“Beyond The Flames” keeps up the melodic Metalcore style of The End of Heartache with a cool driving guitar part and great vocals again from Jesse. The chorus is classic harmonized KsE vocals and the Melo-Death inspired licks the band is known for. The contrasting harsh vocals between Leach and ADAM DUTKIEWICZ are just golden. You can tell the band worked on these songs for a long time, because there are few redundant parts and little fat on these tracks if any. ADAM D’s track record as a perfectionist in the studio is also obvious from the crisp nature of the tracks. The mix was also handled by the venerable ANDY SNEAP (EXODUS, TESTAMENT, OPETH, ARCH ENEMY). “The New Awakening” ratchets up the heaviness again for its brutal opening, harmonized leads and blastbeats. The track also has the best guitar solos on the album and Adam D and JOEL STROETZEL kill it on just about every song. The first single “In Due Time” is solid, but actually the most straight forward song on the album. I recall hearing it the first time and hoping the entire album would be cut from this cloth. They certainly exceeded that hope. Either by way of its key or intensity, “A Tribute to The Fallen” sounds like the earliest work of the band. Backing death growl vocals, chugging and urgent riffs and a raw delivery that will take you back about ten plus years. “Turning Point” is just brutal and sounds like a classic MIKE D’ANTONIO/Adam D composition. “All we Have” is another evil ripper of a song. If they played this in a live setting, I can already envision the mosh pits and the bloodbath that follows. As gnarly as the begging of the track is, the chorus is pretty, but not too pretty if you know what I mean. “You Don’t Bleed For Me” is lone track that has the sound of the more recent KsE affairs. It doesn’t bring the album down, but it is a slight notch below all the rest of the songs to my ears. Fortunately “The Call” brings it right back to focus on the heavier aspects of the bands’ sound. Still, it’s a pretty catchy song which as to be expected from this album. Drummer JUSTIN FOLEY plays some over the top blastbeats on this song, but maybe goes to the well a few times too many. Perhaps people were expecting a re-do of the straight up melodicism of the TIMES OF GRACE album, but that is not strictly the case here. “No End In Sight” starts out with slow, head nodding grind and picks up the beat a little bit more over the course of the song. This is definitely a more mature KsE song. “Always” is the longest song on the album and is a much more laid back affair than I care for. I’m not crazy about the song overall, but it is fairly heavy and has some interesting choices in the writing. “Time Will Not Remain” closes things out in great fashion and rebounds a little bit from the previous few songs. For a final track it has all of the trademark sounds from the band that you want. This would be another song I’d like to hear live.
While far from perfect, the album’s strongest points make a case that this band still has a lot left in the tank and much more to say.
By Keith (@Keefy) Chachkes