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Solid Incarnation - 80%

Petrus_Steele, September 5th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Roadrunner Records (Special edition, Digipak)

Three years after a wild return by Jesse and the band returning to their new and improved roots (if that made any sense), they dropped Incarnate, with quite the colorful album cover by Mike. It's variably long with the extra bonus tracks, but quantity over quality doesn't work in this case. Surely there's a lot more music to listen, yet this album in a way almost feels like a letdown, but not as bad as the self-retitled album with Howard, or the overrated The End of Heartache. As a matter of fact, Jesse himself never really disappointed with whatever music he released, and Incarnate is no exception - just slightly declining from Disarm the Descent. The album in one way is atmospheric and well-written, while it's also very fast in comparison to any of the albums the band recorded thus far.

Alone I Stand has a short, distorted guitar noise until the music kicks in. Off the bat, the production sounds like an improvement from Disarm the Descent. The guitars, the bass especially, and the drums sound on point. The melodies in the chorus remind me of As Daylight Dies, while Jesse's clean vocals sound like it's from Alive or Just Breathing. The song's progression is nothing to speak about. Very unique opening track for an album and I wished I've realized this earlier. Oh yeah, the outro slow riff sounds incredibly good! Now for another famous song, though at least has quality: the catchy and fun, melodic song that is Strength of the Mind. Overwhelmingly melodic, yet done right. Now for the best song on the album and another one of the band's top 10 songs: Embrace the Journey... Upraised combines the hardcore and heaviness Alive or Just Breathing created, with blast beats, ravishing bass lines like in the intro and verses, catchy and crushing riffage in the verses, and Jesse and Adam just lashing some great screaming and death growls for the majority of the song, while in the chorus, bridge, and outro giving you chills down your spines. The live version is just as good, and not to forget how Jesse wrote the lyrics down very astoundingly. Proudly one of his best lyrics, in my opinion. It's also one of the band's longest songs. FINALLY, another fast, with some heavy-slow layers, Ascension is yet ANOTHER track done right. The chorus being MADLY catchy and fun - and Mike almost ripping the strings off his bass, as Adam delivering some ferocious death growls. The song also got a great outro breakdown.

I thought for a second Just Let Go would be a very self-retitled based song by the sound of its melody, but thankfully that didn't end up being the case, and the song's beautifully melodic progression from the guitars AND from Jesse sounded powerful, not to mention Adam's vocals during the bridge. It Falls on Me, like the last track I mentioned, hit a new standard within the band. This one is pretty atmospheric, whilst very heavy, powerful, breathtaking, and well-fucking-written. The bridge is one of the best parts I've ever heard from Jesse's clean vocals, accompanied by the striking bass notes. The song concludes with a devastating breakdown. We Carry On is the most atmospheric song. It's as simple as that. Another song that's done right to give the album more texture. And also Adam singing in the bridge.

I guess one of the band's favorite songs to play from this album, Hate by Design is very heavy, catchy, yet the vocals sound like it belongs to popular music and the structure is quite predictable. Unfortunately, even the death growls weren't that good for this song. Cut Me Loose's riffs are rather atmospheric in a way, but as the song progresses into its melodic chorus, it sounds too good for a radio song. The outro breakdown was rather pointless. At least the bridge's melodies sounded great, though not for this song. Quite Distress and Until the Day are two fast songs that feature a fantastic bass performance, but they overall sounds pretty simple. The Great Deceit was pretty bad. It's heavy, fast, got death growls, glowering bass, and proper drumming, but it sounded quite repetitive and unoriginal.

As for the three bonus tracks: Reignite sounds like it belongs on the band's self-titled debut. However, it sounds very heavy and melodically catchy. The hardcore essence can get annoying as it resembles a lot of the ACTUAL hardcore music more - and this is the first time I'm actually noticing this. Overall, I wasn't disappointed. Great riffage and another great breakdown. Triumph Through Tragedy was instrumentally generic, but Adam takes the cake (or should I say pizza) for his death growls. That was pretty amazing, yet the song itself was pointless. Loyalty starts brutal, but progresses into fine melodies. Jesse sounds great one last time for this record, and the bridge is not only catchy but very heavy all the way to the breakdown. Mike one last time, too, sounds amazing.

I gotta say, I thought I would be very disappointed like I've had the first time I listened to this record, but as it turns out some things require another long and/or thorough listen in order to be fully determined. I gave Incarnate another chance and was happy with the end result. In one way, this album is a fine successor, yet brought enough things to make this a complete sequel to Disarm the Descent. But on the other hand, it stood fine on its own and during its recordings. And knowing I'm not disappointed as I once was, Killswitch Engage found their pattern once again with Jesse and are on the right track. Perhaps that's what this album's title means.

So as you can tell, this album has its ups and downs as it's progressing through the more faster songs, but lifts itself when it hits the quality songs and manages to use two bonus tracks as a booster - or in a more fine matter: these two bonus tracks should've been on the main tracklist and replace Cut Me Loose and Until the Day for being two bad songs, in my opinion. Most of the songs here are awesome, but what stood out the most are Alone I Stand, Just Let Go, Embrace the Journey... Upraised, It Falls on Me, We Carry On, and Ascension.