Sound — 10
Killswitch Engage is the reason why I have a passion for metalcore music. The band truly has an "all-star" line-up now, with Howard's soaring and crushing vocals, Adam and Joel's melodic and heavy riffing, Mike's bass wielding, and Justin's fast double bass beats. "The End of Heartache," along with All That Remains "The Fall of Ideals," is one of the best CDs that I own now. Every time I listen to it, I'm blown away over and over again. Compared to "Alive or Just Breathing," there is more of a melodic feel to the music. Either way, each song has the ability to hit a person like a ton of bricks! The guitars have really improved since the last album. I'm extremely impressed by the composition of each song. It's really become unique in its own way. One of my favorite songs is "Rose of Sharyn" because of the overly complicated chorus harmony. Another one is "Breathe Life" for the chorus. The choruses in each song are really soaring because of the riffs; Adam would do more of the power chords and rhythm while Joel may add a bit of a picking melody to make it sound dynamic. This is also the first Killswitch Engage CD in which they incorporated a solo! In "Breathe Life," Adam pulls off a really "blues" kind of solo and it fits perfectly! The overall sound is killer. Definitely get this album if you like really heavy riffing! This CD is great for metal rhythm guitarists out there.
Lyrics — 10
People were worried about Killswitch Engage having a new lyrical direction when the band hired Howard Jones as new vocalist. However, Howard shows that he has the same lyrical views as former singer Jesse Leach, and he incorporates those songs with songs of his own personal writing style. For instance, you have the more "Jesse" type of songs like "Take This Oath," "A Bid Farewell," "Declaration," etc. followed up with more emotional songs like "The End of Heartache" and "Rose of Sharyn," a song that was written in dedication to his deceased grandmother. Howard's vocals, in my opinion, are better than Jesse's for the following reasons: First, the screaming is audible (one can understand the words); second, the singing is a lot more crisp and one can definitely tell that he's had training (he and Adam take vocal lessons from Melissa Cross); third, he has a more dynamic, almost god-like booming voice. Jesse definitely has a great screaming and singing voice, but as one would find out later, Jesse used more emotion than technique, and with that being the wrong way to scream, Jesse blew out his voice. Great job to Howard on this first effort!
Overall Impression — 10
I'd say that this record is as excellent as All That Remains "The Fall Of Ideals"(both produced by Adam Dutkiewicz). As goes with sound, Killswitch Engage really has its own unique heaviness and quality. It really does knock you on your ass! The best track on this whole CD in my opinion would have to be "Breathe Life." The chorus is just so powerful and Adam's small solo fits perfectly. And when I say that it's the best track, that's really not saying much; all of the tracks on this CD are awesome! The band definitely scored well with Howard Jones on vocals. Apparently, Phil Labonte from All That Remains was capable of taking the position! I love everything about this CD. Killswitch Engage are the USA Kings of Metalcore; no getting past that. There is absolutely nothing on this CD that I hate. If you are a big hardcore/metal fan, you have to get this CD! Quite frankly, if someone were to steal this from me, I would "bid farewell" to that asshole as I throw him down somewhere deep.