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Killswitch Engage – “Killswitch Engage” (2009) July 5, 2009

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2009, Killswitch Engage.
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Written by Andrew Hart

Killswitch Engage is practically a household name by now, following the success of singles like “The End of Heartache” and “My Curse” as well as a cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver,” the metal quintet out of Massachusetts has broken into the mainstream and quickly become one of the most respected bands in the biz.  Needless to say, their 2009 self-titled release (their second by the way) has been highly anticipated by fans of both metal and straight up rock, and with good reason.  With their mix of powerful melodic vocals on top of well-placed screams, and intense instrumentals from all other parties, Killswitch Engage is looking to put themselves on top of the metal world with their fifth studio album.  The funny thing is, they just might be up to it.

The biggest standout on a first listen for anyone on this disc will be the leadoff single “Starting Over.”  It’s easily the choice for a single to keep the band on the map too, relying on a strong vocal hook and a catchy but simple riff.  Much of the band’s work relies on faster riffs but “Starting Over” merely falls back on a great and varied one.  This works for the song too, much as it did for “My Curse,” in providing a hard-hitting but instantly accessible hit.  “Starting Over” may just be the strongest work on this release, but it’s far from a one horse race.  While no other song immediately springs to mind in the same category, the opener “Never Again” is an excellent way to prepare for an hour long headbang session.  Starting with some signature metal screaming, the chorus evolves into an absolute anthem and a drum beat perfect to break your neck to.

Let me delve into a couple more of the gems on this self-titled album.  “Reckoning” is similar to “Never Again” in almost every way by creating an atmosphere of straight-up intense metal, which isn’t a bad thing by all means.  Fans will instantly embrace these two tracks as songs that you’ll have blaring in your car to piss off your neighbors anytime you’re flying past.  “Take Me Away” is breakneck and over as quickly as it ends, but try not to get pulled into it’s incredibly speedy intro followed by an addicting chorus.  “This Is Goodbye” is another one that’ll be sure to have you hitting the repeat button, a fantastic ending track that begins far away before pulling in slowly and blowing you away with one of the strongest choruses on the disc.  By the time it’s over you’ll be ready for round two with Killswitch Engage, or if you’re like me, rounds three, four, and so on.

One track I feel needs a little bit of special attention is the mid-disc “The Return.”  At one point I considered this one of the weakest moments on the album, a track full of wasted potential as I saw it.  It’s chorus doesn’t blow the song open like the slow-building preliminary verse would have you believe, and not once is there a real solid hook in the song.  I soon realized however, that “The Return” is not a song to choose as a single, but is instead a slow-cooking metal ballad of sorts, one intended to show passion and incredible emotion.  Vocalist Howard Jones pulls it off brilliantly too, the entire second verse is an emotional plea in tone, and chills will run up your spine as the drumming intensifies leading into the final minute of the song.  “The Return” may still have been able to pull off certain moments better, but there’s no doubt in my mind it’s one of the strongest songs on the disc now, if not of the year.

If I’m complaining, which I am obligated to do at least briefly, it is that Killswitch Engage is not immediately accessible to fans of radio rock, and the CD may be grating for those not tolerant of non-stop shredding.  It’s not a horribly varied effort on Killswitch’s part, which is to be expected from a band who’s so good at what they do right now.  More tracks like “The Return” could have strengthened this disc overall, or just more tracks in general as the album clocks in at only 11 tracks and under 39 minutes.  It’s short and loud, so fans hoping for anything more may leave disappointed.  This, however, may be the most complete effort from Killswitch yet, and is a fantastic step for the melodic metalcore genre.  Don’t hesitate to give it a spin or two, even if you don’t think you’re a metalhead.

9 out of 10 – Download “The Return”

Killswitch Engage is | Howard Jones – Vocals | Adam Dutkiewicz – Guitar, Backing Vocals | Joel Stroetzel – Guitar | Mike D’Antonio – Bass | Justin Foley – Drums

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Comments»

1. Ben - July 6, 2009

I 100% agree with you. The people that don’t like the album, completely ignore everything positive you just said. They pick apart a couple little things and write a page and a half of bashing these little faults because there’s nothing else to complain about.

A few people say this album is all stuff we have heard before, or every track sounds indistinguishable from one another. People who do not like this album either don’t like metal core, are totally lack musical versatility and understanding. This album is for people who actually have the intelligence to appreciate it and understand the complicated lyrics.

I completely agree with your words. You know what makes a good album!

2. K-God - July 7, 2009

I LOVE tracks like The Return, where at first you think they’re not all that, but the more times you listen, the more you begin to realize how brilliant they are.


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