Disarm The Descent review by Killswitch Engage

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  • Released: Apr 2, 2013
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.7 Neat
  • Users' score: 8.6 (712 votes)
Killswitch Engage: Disarm The Descent
1

Sound — 7
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.

Lyrics — 6
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.

Overall Impression — 7
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.

77 comments sorted by best / new / date

    evanfurillo
    6.7? this album kicked ass! glad to see jesse back
    BuriedAlive7x
    Just bought myself a physical copy this morning. On first listen I'd give it a 7/10 ... it'll probably be a 10/10 by the end of the day.
    m4ss3 m/
    I wasn't really _that_ satisfied by it on the first listening myself either but now after a week, I'd said it could be their second best album after AOJB.
    AllMax47
    I guess it's the same feeling every fan got. AOJB is inimitable, but DTD is their second best work to me.
    BlackDeath92
    At least he's not one of those people that gave it a 10/10 just because they like KSE....
    crazysam23_Atax
    6.7 is actually rather accurate, imho, and I like KsE. But I will admit that this album is one of their better albums.
    TJHague
    I think 6.7 is pretty fair. The album wasn't really bad at all, but at least for me it wasn't that great. It is definitely listenable, but it was just kind of... meh
    ChemicalFire
    Before you question the review, read it without your own opinion. The quality of a review lies in how well the writer brings their ideas across... not if they agree with you or not.
    wspeed6
    Although that is true, it doesn't mean this review was that good.
    crazysam23_Atax
    The review was actually quite well done. It told you about the album while still prompting you to listen to it yourself.
    wspeed6
    i disagree. Too much talk about the past not enough about the album. I understand a lot has happened with this band and it should be talked about, but that shouldn't replace a discription of the album and its parts. It just seems a little lazy.
    K!!LsWiTcH
    i disagree with you here. in this specific situation, the change is exactly what people arent big fans are concerned with, so the comparisons are comepltely necessary. also, the comparisons arent overboard, he describes this current album in a way that i understand exactly what i should be expecting. i think he got his ideas across in a pretty unbiased fashion, with a fair grade (5 is average, he thought the album was above average, which is good). you dont have to agree with him its his review
    thingstodo
    This is the KsE album I've been waiting to hear for about 6 years. ADD and their 2nd self-titled had their moments, but for whatever reason the sound of those albums is just too whiny in the lyrical department. I always thought Jesse's lyrics were much more profound than HoJo's, and I think I'm proven right again with this album. I also like how this album has a much quicker pace to it, the drumming and riffing is much heavier as well. I know the ratings are just numbers and I personally don't usually look at them, but I think this album deserve a higher rating.
    Minivirus2
    I feel like this review is a tad too " Welcome back Jesse" and not enough "This is what the album didn't do well" to receive a 6.7 rating.
    trevors685
    Why are all the albums I like getting 7's on here? I haven't listened to this album fully, but from what I heard, it's really good. His singing is raw and in tune. You can hear the emotion. His highs and lows are ****ing bad ass, and his shouting is top notch too. The album was mastered great, and the whole band has just brought their A+ game. You can tell writing this album was a new experience.
    Realityburn
    Because albums that truly deserve 10s are exceptionally rare (like, maybe 1 or 2 released per year)? Like someone above stated, 5 is "average" so 6.7 is above average. That means the reviewer thought it was a good album, but not one of the best albums in the history of music (which is what a rating of 10 would be saying).
    chrizevans
    I personally loved this album. It's melodic, heavy and catchy, just what you want from KsE
    bevski208
    I don't know anything about the album, but is it really fair to review this album almost entirely as a comparison to previous Killswitch albums? I'd much rather see it reviewed as a separate entity, so I can get an idea of what it's like, not how it compares to other Killswitch. Just my two cents.
    knuw1
    Great album IMO....Thought Jesse did a hell of a job on his return to KSE!
    Silver Blues
    I never really liked KSE but this album has got me warmed up to both the band and death growl. Good job.
    Tatertot45
    its a good review but no mention of the solos? there have only been two solos out all their previous albums. Well imo it added a new layer to the music that wasn't there before. Im a big a fan and I really liked this album its not their best but I like it a lot!
    Machineflame
    Justin Foley (the drummer) really does a great job on this album in my opinion. I'm kinda surprised nobody mentioned it...
    thingstodo
    It's definitely a notable improvement from the last album, I agree. Not to say J-fo was ever bad at drumming, but this album he beats the shit out of his kit and the sound of them is fantastic. I personally think it was the session drumming he did for the latest Unearth album that got him back into playing the heavier rhytms.
    Metallichemical
    Yeah, I thought that the first Killswitch records he drummed on he was just kinda "meh" I guess. However, I love the work he did on Darkness in the Light, which is a great album. And indeed, I think he continues down the right track with this album. I might also add, Alive or Just Breathing has always been my favorite KSE record, but I think this one may have POSSIBLY pushed it down a notch.
    Realityburn
    It's not that surprising that no one mentioned the drumming on a site dedicated to guitar.
    estabon37
    About ten to fifteen years ago I bought Rolling Stone magazine often, as the internet wasn't really a cheap or common thing in my corner of the world back then. They only had five or six regular reviewers, who were attempting to critically and musically assess as many albums as they could and then use words (not the material itself) to communicate their impression of the music. The same system and style of writing is still used today, in spite of the drastic changes to the industry landscape, and so they're a little irrelevant. What's not irrelevant, I think, is the way I 'altered' all the RS review scores in my head. The score reflected an album's material compared to all of music's history, and in particular the other music being released at the time. If I was a fan of the band, I'd always 'add a star' in my head, because as a fan of the band, I'm gonna enjoy it more than the non-fan. You guys who are complaining about low scores in reviews should just 'add 2'.
    Sgt Killswitch
    One of my biggest concerns leading up to this album was how their guitar tone would turn out. The co-producer screwed it up on the last album, the tone sounded all muddy and terrible. But once I heard "In Due Time" my worries were over as I realized that they returned to their signature guitar sound again. Terrific album and return to form!
    GoToSleep
    Jesse is great on here but the songs are kinda weak and too samey. Nothing is really exciting like back on their older material. There are quality moments and the guitar solos are cool but it's playing it too safe and pretty average. More listens might change my mind but usually for Killswitch I like all their stuff right away.
    ibanez124
    It sounded pretty awesome on the first run through, time to give it a second listen
    Palatine
    In this album KSE sound a lot like a tight version of Boysetsfire. Can hear a lot more old At The Gates and In Flames influence than in the past couple of albums as well, much heavier
    rickster100
    Of course their a different band, why compare to howard or alive and just breathing ?
    Genesis415
    This is a decent album. If you like Jesse you should listen to Times of Grace's (Jesse Leach and Adam D) Hymn of a Broken Man - I think it's way better than DtD. Jesse's performance was better. He sounds too much like Jasta on this album
    JSmith38
    Glad I'm not the only one who thought he sounded like Jasta. I thought my ears were broken.
    Krimson_Magnus
    I would personally give it a 6/10. Howard Jones really brought something to the table during his time with Killswitch Engage and it's a real shame that he left. I thought by bringing back the old singer would be great for the band, but in all honesty the album is disappointing. It would've been much better if they pursued a new Times of Grace album instead. After listening to the new album, it feels like it was rushed and not given proper time to work out all of the songs. I hope the next album will be given proper treatment.
    Deathro
    I never liked Jesse and hated the idea of him coming back and all but this was a phenomenal album. The band can make any singer sound great. Leach's screams aren't as good as MANY others but he did well and pulled out a good effort and sound.
    ApplaudingTruth
    Man Im glad to see Jesse back! I remember when I 1st got my hands on Alive or Just Breathing it blew my ****ing mind! Naturally I had to get The End of Heartache, unaware they didnt have Leach on that record until i listened to it all the way through and thought to myself that this is not the KSE I heard on Alive or Just Breathing. I didnt buy another KSE album from that point on. Now that Jesses back and this album is pretty good, not as good as their first record, I think I will be buying KSE's music again.
    sg4ever
    I'm glad someone mentioned the solos. They indeed add a nice element to the songs. Also, seriously...Jesse has improved as a vocalist. His screaming and singing still sound raw, but more controlled.
    Realityburn
    I've been meaning to give this album a listen. I didn't even realize it had been released yet. Times of Grace was awesome. I wasn't that familiar with Jesse's vocal style, having discovered KsE after Howard joined them. Did not like the first self-titled album, Live or Just Breathing was pretty good, though. I dug the one track I've heard from this album. I generally don't pay much attention to reviews, preferring to form my own opinion. But I will check things out if I hear a lot of positive feedback about them.
    Kergash
    I wish the reviewer would've talked a bit more about the actual music on the album, rather than the fact that jesse is back, and howard has left. No mention of the solos, no mention of the drumming reaching a new level again. Nothing at all, a bit disappointed by that. Personally I'd give the album a solid 8+/10, but again, thats my personal opinion.
    sg4ever
    So, it's a 6.7, eh? Is that your final offer? All jokes aside, I can see a lot of what the writer was trying to get across. There is a bit of readjustment that is happening, and it probably is still a work progress. They will probably be even more in form by the time a new release rolls around. Until then, I'd say this is more of a 7.5, in my opinion. Oh well.
    MikeBTE
    This album is amazing. Rating should be better. I feel Aojb and Times of Grace combo put into one on this album and it's just badass
    MagicSaucer
    this album deserved at least an 8, one of the greatest albums i've ever listened too
    shredder3386
    I totally agree, one of the best of 2013 for sure. I personally prefer Jesse's vocals and appreciate his varied lyrical themes.
    Metallica-MAsta
    you are a bloody tit mate this album was complete perfection compared to the stale offerings from their past two releases
    crazysam23_Atax
    I agree it is better than their last 2, but those weren't stale offerings. Of course, imho, none of their albums are paragons of songwriting excellence. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy some KsE at times either.
    Spoony_Bard
    I miss Howard. God, what an incredible vocalist he is. Haven't listened to new KSE yet. I'm sure it's great but man...no one beats the Jones.
    Cheeselord
    What the hell does Disarm the Descent even mean? It seems like more and more Nu-Metalcore albums have meaningless "Cool" names, not that I like the genre in the first place, but still.
    keefsy
    We cant all have deep and meaningful names like "cheeselord".
    AllMax47
    Well, The Free Dictionary says 'descent' means 'a sudden visit or attack; an onslaught', or some kind of troop formation, so I guess to disarm it means to lay the weapons down, bury the hatchet. Sort of a call to everyone to stop all the wars etc. As Jesse said, the idea of this belongs to their bassist Mike D, and at first it was 'Disarming The Descent', but they eventually changed it.
    Omega7
    I think the word you defined is "dissent." Descent, means fall or drop, 'to descend.'
    Burnzyburns
    Actually AllMax47 is correct. "Descent" usually is simply referring to something moving from higher to lower, but another definition is "a sudden and overwhelming arrival or attack."
    Morphogenesis26
    I'll be honest, I had hopes for this album. No End In Sight was a cool song, but I'm pretty disappointed. It's not bad, it's just plain, and I guess that's to be expected from music in this niche. It sucks that these bands can't take their note choice and put it into a Death Metal setting. I can think of maybe 5 bands that have successfully pulled that off. Oh well.
    the_skiv
    Its an average album at most.. bad move going back to leach.. it restricted them to bark like screams and back ground death growles.. KSE needed someone new not someone old
    tb305
    Ive been following killswitch for a good 10+ yrs now and I gotta say Im glad theyre back to their original sound. To me it feels like this is a matured aojb. btw Jessie does NOT sound like Jasta! Leech has quite a few different voices and screams where Jasta has ONE scream..
    ixshadowz
    this album is amazing! i really did not expect such good clean vocals from jesse its pure amazing this album is easily a 9 or even 10 for me i absolutely love it
    hansome21
    I hate this band without howard. 1/10 for this album.