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Perfectly Balanced - 100%

Petrus_Steele, August 31st, 2019
Written based on this version: 2007, CD + DVD, Roadrunner Records (Digipak, Reissue, Special Edition)

As Daylight Dies is in the argument of which Killswitch Engage record is the best, between this and Alive or Just Breathing and between Howard Jones and Jesse Leach. This album isn't only a significant improvement to the self-proclaimed, best-selling metalcore record that is The End of Heartache. It's actually a proper successor to said 2002 record. Musically, the transition to a more prominent melodic sound hasn't only improved past mistakes but started to become more acceptable and appealing. That transition at first might've looked like a risk, but going from the hardcore essence with Jesse, to the melodic sound with Howard this time was a proper adjustment.

I won't lie. While it is my favorite album from the band - and although I still prefer Jesse over Howard when it comes to Killswitch Engage, despite being a fantastic or a perfect record, it's very repetitive; like 90% of the album sounds the same. The only difference would be This Is Absolution and the famous song WWE liked to use back in the day: This Fire (originally titled This Fire Burns). The rest of the songs, even the metalcorized version of Holy Diver sound the same. These 12 out of 15 songs follow the same formula. But despite that repetitiveness factor, this is still a quality metalcore album. Howard delivering his very best in both screams and clean vocals; capturing the operatic moments with his powerful screaming, Adam having more significant backing vocals that can be considered co-lead vocals and his and Joel's guitar work surpassing in their sweet, catchy, improved, and challenging melodies, Justin doing a lot of heavy work behind the drums and Mike always delivering them sick bass lines. The production was always top-notch since 2002 - no comment about that.

The majority of this album consists of many heavy melodies, but even such songs that feature heavy melodies can be considered more melodic than others. So what I liked about this album is the variety you have between the more melodic songs and the more heavy songs. So again, you might find this album repetitive, but it's got a plethora of songs and examples that vary between the melodies and the heaviness.

Listening to the more melodic songs: the title track expresses some atmospheric guitar melodies, as Howard gathers us into this amazing climatic intro of an album. The entire song from the first verse to the outro is melodically catchy and giving chills down your spines. Mike sounds like his blasting with his bass, and Howard really capturing the moment in the chorus. This Is Absolution was the only original song out of the 14 that I didn't like, which was mainly because of how different it sounded. But if you bring the repetitiveness factor I mentioned, you gotta give it credit for sounding different, again. The next album I remembered, for the most part, sounded like this song, but it surely varied. As for the song itself, it's another one which Adam sings, followed by beautifully composed acoustic guitars. The Arms of Sorrow showcases a lot of catchy palm-muted riffs, but the melodies from both Howard and the guitars sound PHENOMENAL. I liked how the first verse had a chorus-effected guitar for a slow melody, while on the second verse it didn't. Adam once again can be heard singing during the chorus. The band's second most famous song: My Curse. Also containing an atmospheric and melodic intro like The Arms of Sorrow along with the catchy melodies and prominent screaming the song has; like the intro scream. The chorus brought back the main riff, only with Howard enriching its sound with his operatic vocals. The second pre-chorus made the song heavier but for a short period. When I first started listening to the band, it was a great start with a song like My Curse. Though like other famous songs, it's definitely beatable by others available on the album. Break the Silence showcases some great vocals by Howard, both in screaming and his clean melodies. The chorus is audibly self-explained - even during the outro, bringing in the light, followed by what I believe to be Adam's death growls - just a fantastic composition! Didn't know where else exactly to categorize this, but while Reject Yourself is a very heavy track with its riffage and the blast beats by Justin entering the band (probably?) for the first time, it's also very melodic. Adam sounding loud and wild and arguably the best clean vocals he added. The bridge is insanely one of the best the band had ever composed, all the way to the outro.

For the more standard, heavy songs: Unbroken is short, yet very heavy. The intro blasting into you and the drums sounding great from start to finish. Though Howard's clean vocals didn't strike me well, as much as his screams have. I would say this song is another example that its sound should've been developed during The End of Heartache's recordings. For You is very identical to My Curse, especially during the chorus, not to mention how bizarrely Howard sounds - perhaps a mixing problem? He sounds rather cleaner and louder. Overall, this track is one of the heaviest, even melodically. Still Beats Your Name is another heavier song, containing sick riffage and melodies, especially during the pre-verse/chorus; becoming more atmospheric. Yet this song is SO inspirational to another end. The chorus alone and the lyrics in that part are so powerful. Makes me wish the song was extended to least another minute. Did I forget to mention Adam singing again during the bridge? Thankfully, Eye of the Storm showcases more of Mike's bass lines including as a bridge intro. As for the majority of the song: melodic, catchy, energizing - need I say more? I think the best part about this song is the outro breakdown. While the band isn't fond of breakdowns like the majority of '-core' bands, this song contains one of the sickest breakdowns I've ever heard. Simple, yet effective. Desperate Times can be considered heavy and atmospheric. The verses are heavily AMAZING, on all instrumental aspects. The chorus showcases a strong atmosphere. I liked the pre-verse melody before the second verse; adding some layer, along with Howard singing more clean this time. Also can't forget how Mike sounded overall. The bridge calms the song down, though still keeping that desperate atmosphere. The first bonus track, Be One is considerably heavy, though Howard by the sound of it preferred to stick to clean vocals, while his screamings are still captivating. This one might be my favorite song from the band, the second bonus track: Let the Bridges Burn. This song made itself as the winner, with its ravishing melodies, blast beats, screaming, death growls and clean vocals, the heavy verses and the atmospheric chorus - the repeated/longer second chorus showcases that. The bridge is more hardcore but still good. Much like Still Beats Your Name, the song's lyrics are too powerful and too meaningful. And finally, the third bonus track, which is the famous This Fire. Much like Unbroken, this song is effectively short, as well as being melodically great. The pre-chorus before it's repeated got some striking guitar riffs. Another prime example of what catchy music means, or should I say groovy...

Yeah, so about being perfectly balanced. It is. You can say this album has seven melodic songs and seven heavy songs, or it tilts with having one or few extra melodic songs or one or few extra heavy songs - or it can be agreed upon some songs have a combination of both. But there's still one last song, which is the famous Holy Diver cover. Yes, it sucks. It sounded bad and pretentious - or as I like to call it metalcorized. But with one mistake I have to keep biased and give this album 100%, and the song itself... it wasn't that bad, instrumentally. Unnecessarily catchy, sure, but the melodies were great, and Howard at least sounded right, not great, but right. Therefore, that's how I find this album to be balanced and variably original not to bore the listener.

About that repetitiveness factor: when you pay attention to songs like the title track, My Curse, and For You, they sound very similar to one another. In the verses, for instance: while the music, vocals, and lyrics sound very different from one another, their structure still sound from the same base. This Is Absolution, Desparate Times (this song, as a matter of fact, is constructed from both the majority of the album's songs and the other two songs in between it - at least during its chorus and bridge), Let the Bridges Burn, and This Fire sound very much alike music-wise. So okay, while these two examples can prove just about enough there's a significant amount of repetitiveness, all the songs still have quality.

If there are other ways to express or give an opinion for this album, then I'm speechless at this point. There's nothing this album didn't do for me, and this is one of the albums that have a special place in my heart. So in conclusion: this album is the band's best melodically, yet clearly their best overall (... at least for me?), while Alive or Just Breathing reigned a lot of heavy shit, which makes the two albums unique on their own. Now for the highlights: the title track, first and foremost, The Arms of Sorrow, Still Beats Your Name, Eye of the Storm, Break the Silence, Desparate Times, Reject Yourself, Let the Bridges Burn, and This Fire.