Sound — 8
Killswitch Engage albums have always boasted the crisp, clean production of guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, also known as Adam D., he of the booty shorts, capes and onstage comedic relief. Dutkiewicz's production was never sterile or too polished, either. He just made every note, riff and beat clear as a bell and thus allowed his band to have a DNA-distinct sound that many copied, but few could fully replicate. For Killswitch Engage and for the first time in their career, the band recruited outside yet noted knobsman Brendan O'Brien to co-man the boards with Dutkiewicz and truthfully, there's not too much different in the band's sound due to O'Brien's handy work. Non-fine-tuned ears as in, those who don't really do or understand the subtle nuances of production work- won't pick up on much of a difference due to this change, but it's there if you really listen. Overall, there, it still sounds like Killswitch, who are known for distortion, soaring vocals buttressed by neck vein-bulging screams, drummer Justin Foley's thunderous, high-voltage beats and the bellowing rhythms of bassist Mike D, as well as the riffwork doled out by Dutkiewicz and unsung hero Joel Stroetzel. Killswitch Engage represents the Killswitch Engage that you know and love, and those big, singable melodies and choruses have ballooned even more on Starting Over and The Reckoning.
Lyrics — 8
Jones, who has been KsE's singer longer than ex-singer Jesse Leach was, is often still viewed as Leach's replacement! You'd think, by now, that shadow wouldn't lurk over Jones' shoulder! He has come into his own since 2004's The End of Heartache, and he continues to hit the notes, wax about relationships, faith-issues and other relatable issue on this second self-titled effort. While Leach sang on the original, eponymous KsE record, this is Jones' KsE record with a self-titling. He's bigger and bolder and more confident than ever when he belts it out over the bone-cracking riffs.
Overall Impression — 8
KsE definitely patented a formula when they took over the metal scene a few years back. When the New Wave of America Metal scene was blowing up, KsE were rising to the top. Even though they didn't coin, and certainly won't take ownership of that phrase, KsE achieved higher record sales, more radio airplay, the lion's share of press and recognition in the scene, trumping their peers. They were able to share stages with My Chemical Romance, Underoath and The Used as easily as they were with Slayer, Mastodon and Hypocrisy. Killswitch Engage proves why the band could live in both worlds so effortlessly: it's the hooks, the choruses, the moshability and the subtle, sludgy thud that are the current that run through the album and allow the band to appeal to a wide cross-section of heavy music fans. KsE doesn't polarize with Killswitch Engage and while their endless legion of fans may not deem this record their best effort, it's still another fine addition to their catalog.