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Getting worse and worse - 41%

Hellish_Torture, August 24th, 2015

Two years after having definitively polluted the melodic metalcore scene with “The End of Heartache”, Killswitch Engage came back with new material, just to drag the “core” trend at even lower levels. In those two years, everything had changed. 2006 was a year of intense crisis for metal, and part of the fault goes to Dutkiewicz’s band. The year before, Bullet for My Valentine’s debut had been released, attracting even more emo kids into the metal scene; heavy metal had just resumed from the profound identity crisis that it had to face during the early 2000s (when cock-rock bands such as Linkin Park and Papa Roach took over the nu metal subgenre), but now it was already going to face another one in the second half of the decade, this time against all those wimpy emo kids. Excluding few exceptions (first of all, All That Remains’ “The Fall of Ideals”), metalcore in 2006 was pretty much on its knees, and Killswitch Engage gave another strike to its already precarious health with their new album “As Daylight Dies”.

This album does nothing but expand every single flaw of its infamous predecessor, giving to younger bands some more thorough lessons about how to ruin metalcore. Truth be told... in the same year, even All That Remains made a breakdown-driven song, “Not Alone”, but in this case it was just an exception to the rule (since they usually don’t insist on breakdowns as much as their pals Killswitch Engage do) and, most of all, the whole song-structure was way more dynamic and cohesive. On “As Daylight Dies”, Dutkiewicz’s wretched team creates a gross, unfocused mess. Take, for example, the single “The Arms of Sorrow”, which is probably the worst track to be featured on the whole record: cheesy arpeggios, half-assed mid-paced riffs thrown into a confused and incoherent song-structure, tons of exaggerated chugs and breakdowns, random and unnecessary guitar wankery and, most of all, unlistenable clean vocals (especially those of the chorus) delivered by Howard Jones. Breakdowns on this record have dramatically increased in number, polluting the songwriting to unbearable levels and working mostly as a filler, rather than just as an additional component - ending up being ridiculously redundant and completely unnecessary: the obsessive repetition sounds frustrating already since the first couple of tracks (especially “This is Absolution” and “Unbroken”), and believe me... around track 8, 9 or 10, your nerves will be begging for mercy to stop this torture.

Anyway, the breakdown-based formula is still filled with many “distractive elements”. Honestly, the riffing hasn’t improved so much: it’s still the same soup of inconsistent groove/thrash/melodeath stuff, just with some “expansions” of the formula - tending to go a bit more into the proper thrash territory (most of the time with bland results, as demonstrated by “Still Beats Your Name” and “Eye of the Storm”) or even with some attempts at imitating At the Gates (with the generic intro riff of “Unbroken”). Of course, most of the guitar melodies featured on this record are even cheesier and more saccharine than before (“Break the Silence” and the so-called “atmospheric” chorus of “Desperate Times” are tragically perfect examples); however, I’ll admit, there are still some fine melodic ideas to be found here and there, in the best Killswitch Engage tradition: “My Curse” begins with a nice arpeggio, followed by good melodies alternated with the same old bland soup of exaggerated chugs, faceless melodies and uninspired riffs; even the aforementioned “Desperate Times” features some pretty good melodic ideas (ruined by the nauseating breakdowns beneath them and Howard’s scandalous clean vocals), while “Daylight Dies” starts with some nice tremolo melodies and, pretty much in the same way of a certain part of “Still Beats Your Name”, contains some well-done In Flames-esque riffage.

However, these are only isolated episodes, and most of the time the songwriting is still weak and boring as fuck. I think it’s no coincidence if, on this album, Dutkiewicz’s displays of technical wankery are even more diffused than before, in order to fill more space: you’ll find tons of useless, masturbatory tapping parts on “Still Beats Your Name”, “Eye of the Storm” and “Break the Silence”. Yeah, Adam, you are a great guitarist, we all know it... but, paradoxically, this aspect contributes to make Killswitch Engage’s musical offering even more depressing. These guys clearly have a great potential (and they showed it during the 90s, giving strong contributions to the nascent metalcore genre with other bands), but they chose to waste their capabilities since the early 2000s, in order to seek and find commercial success.

And, just speaking of “potential”... do you really wanna know what these crazy motherfuckers would still be capable of? Well, the answer awaits you at the end of this album. HOLY SHIT. After ten tracks of pure boyband-styled crap, “Reject Yourself” kicks you abruptly in the ass with some seriously FUCKING MONSTROUS riffage: this is just fast and pissed off thrash metal, with the addition of some excellent melodic touches which make the whole thing even tastier and more inspired. The songwriting is absolutely solid, the ideas are original, fresh and heartfelt, and the delivery is unbelievably relentless and full of passion; of course, the clean vocals do suck, but surprisingly less than usual. This is, by far, the best song ever written by Killswitch Engage, and it’s without doubt the only true gem of this crappy album; if all Killswitch Engage songs were like this one, I’d be likely a die-hard fan of this band. Unfortunately, the emo crowd comes before in the charts, and of course they’d rather listen to “The Arms of Sorrow”...

Just one awesome song placed at the end is not enough to salvage “As Daylight Dies”, which remains a pathetic and worthless album that contributed to lower the genre’s standards even more than before - and the band was going to hit the rock bottom with the following album, just about three years later. It’s really frustrating to realize that these guys are considered by many people (including a fuckload of music critics) as the absolute peak of the “melodic metalcore” scene. Apparently, their sound may share many aesthetic similarities with bands such as As I Lay Dying, All That Remains or Shadows Fall - but, looking beneath the surface, they seem to have way more in common with Bullet for My Valentine and Asking Alexandria, in terms of mentality and songwriting approach. If you wanna hear some good melodic metalcore stuff from those same years, do yourself a favor... stick to “The Fall of Ideals”, “Threads of Life”, “Undoing Ruin” and “An Ocean Between Us”, and leave this pap to the whiny emo kiddies.