Raise your hand if you tuned into Killswitch Engage’s 2009 self-titled album, and walked away pretty underwhelmed? I remember giving a probably too generous review of it, but the album seemed like the sound of a band who hits a wall creatively, and as we learned later on- things in the Killswitch world were in need of change.
Everybody now knows the story now of how Howard Jones left the band, to be replaced by original lead singer Jesse Leach and fans are hoping for a return of the days of “Alive Or Just Breathing”, Well, the fans who hoped and prayed for that moment will mostly be satisfied with the band’s sixth album “Disarm The Descent”.
Within the first few tracks of the album, such as “The Hell In Me” and “The New Awakening”, you can tell that the album has it’s studio polish courtesy of guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, but may be the band’s most rawest and pure sounding album in nearly a decade. The band seems a bit re-energized, and you can tell in the riffs like in “A Tribute to the Fallen”, and just in how Leach goes go for it vocally on the furious “All We Have”. On the band’s last record (and to a certain extent, their 2006 album “As Daylight Dies”), it seemed like Killswitch had started to play it safe as they became big, but the majority of the tracks on “Descent” seem like a band that took the script of the past few albums and tossed it far away.
When listening to “Descent”, you tend to remember just how many bands took the early Killswitch musical playbook and milked it for all it’s worth, and “Descent” proves that the band is taking that playbook back. A couple tracks towards the end, such as “Always” and “Time Will Not Remain” could sound like some of those bands, but by that point, most fans will be sold on the record.
Now, the debate begins- can Leach handle the vocals? Leach can handle the melody parts just fine, and even though I might give the slight melodic edge to Jones, Leach nails the screaming and hits with an intensity and fire that Jones had been lacking on the last album. As much as Jones and Leach are similar in vocal stylings, “Descent” proves that are some variations between the two.
But in all, “Disarm The Descent” does exactly what most fans hoped it would do: bridge the old and new Killswitch fans together and gives longtime fans a little taste of the past for the future and is easily the band’s best record since 2004’s “The End of Heartache”.
Killswitch Engage's "Disarm The Descent" is out now at all musical outlets. For more tour info and band info, check out www.killswitchengage.com.