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KsE have long been a guilty pleasure of mine; their second album was pretty huge for me when I was 15 or so and I still think it's one of the few genuinely good metalcore albums out there, catchy, soaring, convincingly heavy and not terribly emo or anything. The third was decent enough; a step in the wrong direction perhaps but still enjoyable for what it was, a super catchy pop metal abomination. Sadly, as with many a band doing the whole 'good variation on a really shitty genre' thing, KsE eventually got sucked into the whirling vortex of suckiness that is metal core. Alternatively they dived into it willingly and decided to reap the ensuing rewards; regardless this a very big disappointment and unfortunately not all that surprising.
Everything that made these guys enjoyable on their second album- the satisfying heavy parts, the touch of restraint with the whole melodic chorus thing, sparse breakdowns- well, it's all gone. Saying they 'sold out' on this record would be ridiculous as they did that a few records ago, (or possibly the instant they formed) but whereas Alive or Just Breathing at least made you eat your vegetables before you get the sugar coated treat here it's all abandoned for an instant sugar rush, a huge amount of double tracked singing-and-screaming-at-the-same-time (certainly a greater evil then the Holocaust) and really stupid lyrics. Granted going after a metal core band for stupid lyrics is redundancy to the extreme- but the amount of 'We will overcooooooooooome!!!' and similar protest march slogans/Arch Enemy-isms here is truly ridiculous.
To be honest I wish KsE had dropped the attempts at metal riffing, the more melodic parts are pretty ace. The widdly-widdly riff in Break the Silence is pretty awesome, and various tremelo parts around (title track intro, Desperate Times chorus) is fairly nice in all of their soaring, er, tremelo-ness. They make Dragonforce sound like Ildjarn in comparison; sickeningly melodic and lush. Shame there aren't more of them, because the heavier parts in the songs- and I mean any song- are really bad; imagine a more generic In Flames with a few breakdowns added and you've got every heavy part here, complete with some truly execrable Anders-like shouts from Howard. Truly awful!
The closest thing to redemption (or 'absoluuutiiiioonn!!!') this album has is the absolute monolith that's the production. Adam D may write shitty songs and has a really wussy backing vocal but dammmmn can he produce like a mofo. Every recorded guitar should have a tone like this, every modern metal band should go for a drum sound like this- I guess this album doesn't have much use beyond being a reference CD and being used to pick up scene chicks, but it is very good at either of those.
Yeah, overall it's a fairly average record with horrible attempts at metal riffing (and emo choruses that are awesome but leave me feeling ambivalent and kind of confused), but I'm a loyal idiot with a bit of spare cash so I'll probably buy their next abomination anyway. For those unlike me who are smart and discerning, though, you would be advised to avoid this.