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Get Out of the Way Howard, Make Way For Adam D. - 83%

Akerfeldt_Fanboi, August 17th, 2009

Killswitch Engage are, of course, a metalcore band. But, what makes them different, is that they are actually really fucking good. Riffs that are actually coherent and good, breakdowns that aren't too intrusive but still lacking and open, and a strong melodic sense similar to At the Gates or Arch Enemy.

Now, referring to the title, Howard Jones is the lead vocalist of the band, but Adam Dutkiewicz, the lead guitarist, producer, and oddly enough ex-drummer, should be the one doing lead vocals. While Howard does have much better range, I prefer Adam's soothing cleans and he actually uses death growls and shrieks compared to Howard's fry screams.

Okay, the music, you ask? This album is filled with very similar breakdowns, to get that out of the way, every other song has a breakdown in it, which is annoying in this style but is forgiveable due to the actually good music. The vocals consist of harsh screams, soaring cleans, etc, etc. and are backed up by Adam D's jazzy pipes.

Howard is a good singer no doubt, but his lyrics are another story. This may be a good album in terms of instruments and vocals, but damn are the lyrics obnoxiously bad. Shifting between loss, emotions, and more loss...it's all we get, nothing else, just being whiney and sad. Ugh, at least be tough guys or something...throw in something Agnostic Front would do, it would sound better in a song like This is Abslution much better than its current topic. The lyrics absolutely drain points from the score.

So, the guitar tandem of Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz is pretty excellent, to be honest. Mixing in chuggity-chug that is to be expected from metalcore, melodic thrash riffing, and intense lead lines, this sounds more like melodic death metal with that nerdy coating that makes it "metalcore". The guitars are tuned to drop C, which probably only aids the chuggy breakdowns...man; I wish they would throw in a slam or two. I've already mentioned Adam's amazing vocals (see: My Curse, The Arms of Sorrow, This is Absolution), so none of that.

The bass is virtually inaudible, but Mike D'Antonio was good in Overcast so I assume he's doing at least decent here. The drumming is superbly standard, very boring and lacking any double bass that would make it interesting. Eye of the Storm is the only time he even interests me to the point where I listen to him. Both of these instruments, and there lack of presence drag the album down.

The production is virtually sparkling and spotless. Which kind of annoys me on anything else, but it fits here, and doesn't hurt the album at all unlike most metal albums. The songwriting on this album is also fairly up to par, despite a few songs being completely filler and useless. There is a rather simple song structure at work here, but that's fine, as some of the best metal bands in history used simple song structures and predictable riffing, but did it so well that it was welcome and people loved it.

The music is spotless along with the production. As I said, most of the songs follow a very similar pattern, but do it so well that there really is no reason for them to change the pattern up at all. If the lyrics had more diversity, the album would sound a lot less contrived and whiney. Really, listen to This Is Absolution, obviously a melodeath song coated in metalcore themes. How about Eye of the Storm? A heavy metal song with hardcore screams and whiney ass lyrics, but the albums foundation lies within relatively heavy and good metal.

The riffing is usually superb on this album, except for the very few times that they revisit riffs that are unusually similar to others on the album (see: The Arms of Sorrow intro and My Curse intro). The real heavy riffs, like the intros to For You and This is Absolution, are really good and hold up exactly what good melodic metal riffing should consist of; melody, chunky tone, chunky playing, and a very clean picking technique, which is exactly what these guys pull off. The drumming doesn’t aid or hinder the guitars, so I guess they’re not too bad within the context of the music, and the bass is, as I said earlier, inaudible. The riffs in My Curse, This is Absolution, Reject Yourself, Eye of the Storm, and Unbroken are the best in the whole album and definitely the best in metalcore, at least lately.

So there you have it, the album is chock full of harsh riffing and hardcore vocals, but it is definitely not an album you simply turn your cheek from without a real listen or two. I recommend this to fans of melodic death metal, thrash metal, and heavy metal that is heavy on the melody and actually makes metalcore look good.