Disarm The Descent
5/10/2013 - Review by: Eric Compton
Killswitch Engage, One of metalcore's founders, have come full circle with their newest offering "Disarm The Descent". The band parted ways amicably with singer Howard Jones in 2012 and replaced him with the group's first vocalist in Jesse Leach. Jones spent nine years in the camp and contributed to some of the best selling albums in the genre's history. Leach takes over the reigns again for this sixth record and first with his old band mates since 2002. Old fans will recall Leach originally with the group for four years and the first two albums "Killswitch Engage" (2000) and "Alive Or Just Breathing" (2002).
My first reaction upon the announcement of Jones' departure was complete shock. With that came the realization that the band's sound may change as Jones is such a smooth vocalist. His soulful clean singing could be accessible in any genre and with his departure the band would have a huge void to fill. Speculation was rampant on a singer and Leach is an adequate if not exceptional choice for frontman.
Four years removed from the group's last album, "Killswitch Engage II", comes a new album that is filled with intensity and aggression, never lacking in a powerful display of double bass, growling vocals and that soaring twin guitar harmony that is the band's signature. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz once again produces and Andy Sneap (Accept, Megadeth) mixes making this sonically fit in every aspect. The band are represented by Roadrunner Records once more.
The group's single "In Due Time" is a near perfect example of everything right in the metalcore sound. We get perfectly placed clean vocals layered with growls and a chorus that is surgically clean and precise. "All in due time, see the world through different eyes" shows Leach in a chorus that is sung so well that it borders on Euro progressive (like something Kamelot or the prissy Italians would try), yet powerfully persuasive and secure in its heavier mold. More songs follow that formula, the growling verses, the clean singing and the heavier groove stomp riffs mixed in with layers upon layers of twin guitar. Opener "The Hell In Me" and "The New Awakening" are triumphant anthems, all neatly enclosed in aggressive yet accessible formulas that make the songs addictive and hook happy. "Blood Stains" is furious, one of the fastest songs of the bands career and the needed kick in the face that the latter half of the record needed.
With the album done well and never too preachy with the positivity it still seems dated to a degree. Bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Bullet For My Valentine have reinvented the genre, adding in everything from hardcore and electronics to atmospheric touches that have not been recreated or attempted stateside. With acts like Killswitch, All That Remains and Shadows Fall the US scene has yet to fully evolve. As good as "Disarm The Descent", and believe you me it is a great record, it still fails to move along or expand the genre's boundaries and limitations. Growl verse, growl verse, clean chorus, repeat, lead and then recycle is not something that needs repeated listens. I challenge the US to somehow move past 2004's "The War Within (Shadows Fall) and challenge the upper echelons of Europe's finer metalcore movement.
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