Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: Killswitch Engage - Disarm the Descent

Band: Killswitch Engage
Album: Disarm the Descent
Year: 2013
Country: USA
Genre: Metalcore

Here we have the much anticipated (for me and many others) return of Jesse Leach to Killswitch Engage. After Adam D. and Jesse collaborated together in Times of Grace I figured that was the closest we would ever get to a Leach fronted Killswitch, so I was ecstatic when it was announced he was rejoining the band. On Disarm the Descent it's easy to see the band went for a rawer and more in your face approach trying to capture the energy they had on Alive or Just Breathing and which had been missing for the last few albums.

After giving the whole album a good listen the first thing you notice besides the change in vocals from Howard Jones to Leach is the faster pace and heaviness of the guitars. I think its safe to say these are the fastest riffs Adam D. and Joel Stroetzel have played in their careers with KsE. A number of tracks on DtD are relatively fast paced for the band, in particular A Tribute to the Fallen, The Call, and All That We Have. And aside from the poppy melody ridden choruses most of the riffs are filled with aggression that the band hasn't expressed in their music for some time. Another thing is the quantity of solos on the album were quite a treat considering it's something that is sparse in their back catalog. I also have really dug the emphasis on harmonized leads especially on No End In Site, and New Awakening which reminds me heavily of the Swedish melodic death metal bands of the 90s.

To go along with the speedy guitar riffs the drumming of Justin Foley is far more frenzied than ever before. There are blasts all over the album and it just adds to the punishing nature of the guitars when Foley is thrashing the drums like a madman. Mike D'Antonio's bass is also noticeably present throughout the album which is great since they had been a little more subdued over the last couple releases.

And then we come to the vocals. Over time Jesse Leach has had to change his vocal style in order to keep from injuring his vocal chords. Yet it seems literally with every release since his return to metal has sounded just a bit different, going from The Empire Shall Fall, to Times of Grace, and now to Killswitch Engage each time refining his technique. By now he really doesn't sound much like he did back in the early 00s. His clean vocals are given more time on this album than his previous time in the band but there is still plenty of harsh throat ripping growls, most times layered just underneath his clean singing as well to add to the raw feel of the album. Adam D. is also present here as well lending his deep death growls here and there on a few songs. Leach's lyrics are the same as they have been lately, mostly dealing with perseverance, redemption, and positivity.

I'll be honest I was extremely nervous about how Disarm the Descent would turn out. I figure it would go either one of two ways, either it would is a total mess and not live up to the expectations in my mind as a fanboy of early Killswitch Engage, or it would be a great album that destroyed any reservations I may have had. I'm glad to say the latter is what came to be true. If I had to give a short description to someone of the album I would say it's like Alive or Just Breathing married with their modern sound. Yet there is something else there, an urgency that wasn't previously in their other albums. Here is to hoping this is a direction the band continues to explore in the future!

Score: 9.5/10
Standout Tracks: Beyond the Flames, In Due Time, You Don't Bleed For Me

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