Disarm The Descent
UG Team, on april 05, 2013 3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: As Ethel Merman once sang on Broadway, probably dying for her words to be quoted in a review of a metalcore album, "anything you can do, I can do better." I should imagine that American heavyweights Killswitch Engage would challenge her on that point. It isn't their job to move with the times or break boundaries. It's not even their job to play riffs you haven't heard thirty times before, but they take it upon themselves to play the style better than anyone else through sheer strength of character. That approach will limit your shelf-life but there are signs of rejuvenation behind the songs of "Disarm The Descent", generic though they may be. Mostly it owes to the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach, who rejoined last year in place of the long-serving Howard Jones. My initial impression is that the band aren't quite so risk averse this time around - Howard's Killswitch wouldn't have opened an album with a blastbeat, for example but it's immediately evident that besides the change in frontman, it's business as usual. Modern metalcore which is reasonably heavy and melodic, without going overboard on either one.
Joel Stroetzel and Adam D keep their picking hands very, very busy with tight, fast rhythms and string-skipping. It's all part and parcel for a band who helped to sculpt that riffing style but the flair with which they apply their technical prowess is impressive, especially on "The Call", an alarmingly fast track with punishing tremolo picking. The aggressive tempos drive the album through thick and thin, including some melodically sparse moments around the middle, and will at the very least ease fears that all the personal difficulties surrounding the band have taken the wind out of their sails. Whether you really enjoy it is down to the strength of your appetite for more material. // 7
Lyrics: Other than the lyrics, which strike a predictable balance of angst and moralistic sheen, everything's a little less Hollywood without Howard. He accompanied the band right through their rise to superstardom with his theatrical bellow so a period of readjustment is needed to get reacquainted with Leach's rougher style. He does very well but the band aren't the same as they were when he left it and there's an element, I think, of readjustment for him as well. Echoes of his predecessor linger in the vocal melodies and the way harsh and soft are layered ("Beyond The Flames", "In Due Time") but he works best, as he always used to, with a bare scream. He's finding his feet and you'd expect him to stand up straight on them in due course. // 6
Overall Impression: What we know about Killswitch Engage is that they love this stuff, absolutely lick it up, and so do their fans. What we can't be too sure about is what really differentiates this album from the last or the next besides the personnel and the changes they entail. Perhaps it's just gut feeling. If so, most of us should agree that they've regained form on "Disarm The Descent" after a difficult patch in the last few years and not just that. There should, after all's said and done, be a ringing consensus that Jesse Leach fully deserves his place back in the ring today with one of contemporary metal's prize fighters.
Disarm The Descent
unregistered, on april 18, 2013 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: I recently had the opportunity to sit down and listen to a full album run through of new Killswitch Engage album "Disarm The Descent" and thought I would share my opinion of it with UG. After releasing 2009's quite lacklustre self-titled album, KSE parted ways with singer Howard Jones (because of his struggle with controlling his diabetes amongst other things) and reunited themselves with original lead singer Jesse Leach. Fans of their debut album and masterpiece "Alive Or Just Breathing" were hungry for what could possibly be the next "AOJB" - an album which is revered by many as one of the most important in metalcore.
While "Disarm The Descent" shares some similarity to AOJB in vocal stylings - Jesse has not lost any of the passion and soul in his lyrics or voice - technically, the new album showcases the improvement by each member through the Howard Jones-era and in particular the guitar riffs are far superior to "AOJB" and "KSE II". Added to this the fact that the album was produced by Adam D and not Brendan O'Brien you get a chunkier sounding album than the flat sound of "KSE II" - reminiscent of "The End Of Heartache". // 10
Lyrics: Jesse Leach has always been one of my favourite lyricists - particularly because of the way he sings, he leaves it all out there and puts absolutely everything into every word he sings. While some of the lyrics are quite cliched the majority of songs are uplifting and positive with a message of hope and determination. Jesse tells a story with pretty much every song and you believe every word he sings/screams across the 12 tracks. Apart from a few obvious moments of autotune which has not been mixed as well as hoped, Jesse's voice is as powerful and intense as it was 10 years ago on "AOJB". When he emits his trademark guttural scream on tracks like "All That We Have" I find it pretty much impossible not to jump around like a lunatic. // 9
Overall Impression: If you compare the album to "Alive Or Just Breathing" or "The End Of Heartache" I don't think it's quite as good. That said, "Disarm The Descent" is not just a return to form for a newly invigorated Killswitch Engage - it is a return to the passion and raw angst of 2003 mixed with the past ten years of struggles, lessons learned and should hopefully stand the test of time as one of their best. Favourite tracks of mine are "No End In Sight", "All That We Have", "The Turning Point" and "In Due Time".
The few moments of autotune that are clearly noticeable are quite cringe-worthy but it's forgiven for being such a good album. I am excited for the future of KSE now they have reaffirmed their faith in the music and seem to certainly have enjoyed making this excellent LP. // 10
Disarm The Descent
Bayon3twork, on april 18, 2013 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Killswitch Engage has been through some changes the past four years; changes that often end a band's career. As many know, vocalist Howard Jones announced his departure in 2012, leaving big shoes for the band to fill. It was without question that the band decided to hire Jesse Leach, the original vocalist who brought the metalcore classic "Alive Or Just Breathing" a decade ago. Naturally, this divided the fans, pitting Leach fanatics against Jones fanboys, arguing which vocalist is better. Essentially, "Disarm The Descent" is Leach's response to this question.
"Disarm The Descent" starts off fast, heavy and in your face and doesn't ease up at all. Songs like "The Hell In Me" and "New Awakening" start with heavy chugging and near blast beat drum patterns followed by fast alt picking bringing the intensity up to dial 11. In both songs, harmonized twin guitar riffs in the chorus are ridiculously catchy and become a trademark of Killswitch Engage. However, the breakdowns are rather lackluster and have been done to death by pretty much every band in existence.
"A Tribute To The Fallen" takes on a thrashing gallop, but unfortunately isn't much more than a basic structure of a hardcore song. One thing about Killswitch Engage is that they add little elements of eccentric guitar riffing within in each song, which is fun to listen for. For example, a faint repeated guitar pattern is played behind the chorus, which adds structure and warmth. Also, the riff near the end of the song is very creative and a personal favorite. I love sliding riffs and this lick really adds flair to the song.
In "You Don't Bleed For Me", the beat follows a similar gallop beat to that of "A Tribute To The Fallen". I hate to say it, but the chorus almost sounds like a Trapt song. As weird as that sounds, it's not quite as distasteful as you'd imagine. I loved the choice to end on an a capella scream. This was a bold move to really show off Leach.
"Beyond The Flames" and "The Turning Point" are the heaviest songs on the albums providing the punchiest riffs that are backed with intricate licks. "In Due Time" sounds very similar to "Beyond The Flames". Heavy chugging dominates this song while the end of riffs give an illusion of complexity while being nothing more than a string bend and a pinch harmonic. There is a solo in this song, and while it has a little more soul than the other solos in the album, it is a reminder that Killswitch Engage has never really been a melt-your-face-off-guitar-solo kind of band. The album hits a bump with "Always" - a bass heavy song. It just doesn't bring the same amount of energy as the rest album. This song is similar to "Circles" from 2009's self-titled album. // 8
Lyrics: While "Disarm The Descent" doesn't quite best display Leach's vocal ability (as seen on Times Of Grace), it is an invigorated improvement from the band's lackluster self-titled release in 2009. The aggressive edges to the songs, especially in "New Awakening", are pure musical ecstasy partnered with Leach's clean vocals. His vocals sound less strained than "Alive Or Just Breathing" while his cleans are really catchy. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz compliments any vocalist and shows this by backing up Leach's vocals with a soothing choral harmony maintaining the high energy. I did find some of the lyrics generic and at times Leach's vocals performance could not have been possible without the help of Dutkiewicz on backup. Other than this, Leach gave a solid performance. // 7
Overall Impression: "Disarm The Descent is a lot less melodic than some of Killswitch Engage's earlier efforts leaving the melody just for the choruses. I feel that the album picks up from where Leach left off at the end of "Alive Or Just Breathing" while mixing elements from Times Of Grace within it. It's definitely a step up for me from the self-titled album put out in 2009, but doesn't top "As Daylight Dies". The structures of "Disarm The Descent"'s songs are lacking and quite boring. Leach's screams are certainly better than Jones' to me, but despite Leach's improved vocal performance in this album, he still can't seem to touch the cleans that Jones was able to. I was afraid that the band would take a "generic radio rock" path as many have seen All That Remains and Jones' Killswitch take, but this album certainly doesn't do that. Fortunately, the album is an impressive display of the band's ability to put out heavy music after 14 years together. Welcome back, Mr. Leach. // 8