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Killswitch Engage are one of the few tolerable metalcore acts I unconditionally love regardless of my growth towards other areas of music. These guys are one of the pioneers of melodic metalcore and it is this very attribute that’s appealed to me throughout their career. Jesse Leach supposedly vanished without giving a proper farewell to his fellow members but within a periodic time between a year he resurfaced with a new act of his own entitled, Seemless. In 2007, we see the lit reminiscent acquaintanceship with Leach and Adam Dutkiewicz collaborating to form Times of Grace. 2011 saw a bright entrance of refractory excellence with the release of their debut, “The Hymn of a Broken Man”. This could be seen as Killswitch Engage’s 2009’s follow-up. This momentum now brings forth “Disarm the Descent”.
This release marks the return of original vocalist, Jesse Leach, being more than a decade since his last contributions. Those not familiar with pre-”End of Heartache” will finally have a chance to see a different front man’s capabilities. Howard Jones’s strong nine year streak has now ended but this turn of events has re-spawned Alive or Just Breathing's grand line-up with the addition of Justin Foley. Does it sink or swim? I’ll leave it with the statement that I sense pressure and dense consciousness seeping through.
“The Hell in Me” started things off and as the first riff came within my recollection, I knew right away the riffs would be enjoyable. The production on this specific aspect sounded heavy and escaped from its captive honing device in the cleanest and genuine way as possible. However, the defect of it all was the production choices to sharpen vocals to an unnecessary varying amount. Harsh vocals sounded surprisingly great but when it came to cleans and choruses you could tell the falsified imitation lacked authenticity. “Beyond the Flames” luckily, made me eat my words. During the course of the song, there was a beautiful and relaxing interlude followed by a purveyor of a real human soul that is Jesse Leach implementing emotive-felt cleans cleansing the pain of your suffering.
The next song has an appropriate title to describe its progress, “New Awakening”. It represented both sides of the spectrum. Leach must have been out of his mind to incorporate “1,2,3,4” as a beginning lyric. Seriously? Basically, a filler usually one would think to edit out. Riffs, however, start to get interesting. The tone and style apt to Psycroptic’s Joe Haley, I was rather impressed by it. Memory lane decided to take a comforting stroll around a forsaken park, upon the lyrics “I would rather die than live my life in fear”. The way Leach bared out a semi-hatred inducing harsh vocal on the carrying impact of the word “fear”, took me back to his heydays in 2002’s “Alive or Just Breathing”.
If you’ve ever seen Adam Dutkiewicz live you know how random and capricious he can be. Well, I felt he incorporated that knack onto “Disarm the Descent”. His backing vocals are spontaneously scattered throughout the record that at times you’d think they seem out of place. Analyzing it all, it’s a just personality merger into the music itself. I don’t think a tranquilizer can take that guy down. There was plenty of novelty backing vocals as well (i.e. “In Due Time”, etc.). “A Tribute to the Fallen” has a rather complacent rhythm along the veins of Liturgy’s experiential-ism or excuse me, transcendence. The solo both in this and the previous song included an outlandishly misconceived tapping that should have been aborted or adjusted. This song left with a good note as a fading ambient rhythm transparently goes into drums powering up and increasing voltage overall as it leaks into the next one. A huge disappointment as “The Turning Point” goes into a chugging predictable snore-prevalent bore fest. Unlike both its predecessors, this had an interesting solo.
“You Don't Bleed for Me”, do I have to elaborate on this one? The title seems self-explanatory. Anyways, here you get the most stereotypical technique in metalcore. It makes a gang rape in a sauna during the hottest summer, being an individual with an anxiety disorder, more preferable. It’s the obnoxious muffled speech all unoriginal artists engage in. “The Call” had one of the strangest techniques I’ve heard. Blast-beats were hammering on and on as Leach sang a clean lyric passage.
I don’t know if I made it clear but overall this album was troubling to say in the most decent way as possible. It felt completely rushed; a greater percentage of the album didn’t click mutual harmony. It had too much “copy & paste” going on, you know sticking a chorus with the notion of instantly hooking the ignorant masses. The lyric themes were aimed at pubescent boys and girls. No lyrical depth only superficial topics teens would appeal to. Maybe Jesse Leach’s return didn’t seem quite right with the guys. As I said before, the production murders the vocal authenticity. “Disarm the Descent” would sound just fine live but as a studio album, this completely failed. Please work on the solos as well, they’re kind of messy.
Originally written for www.metal-temple.com