At the beginning of the "noughties", as they are often called, Killswitch Engage's Alive Or Just Breathing album was a watershed moment in metal in the early part of the 21st Century. It is regarded by many as the death knell of nu metal for all but the large well established bands of that movement (the Limp Bizkit's and KoRn's of this world) and helped launch the terms "metalcore" and "NWOAHM" upon the world. Now, more than a decade later, Killswitch Engage have released their fifth full length album Disarm The Descent, their first album since those days to feature original singer Jesse Leach, reunited with his old colleagues after a decade apart.
Killswitch Engage - Disarm The Descent
From the very first listen, it seems that Jesse's return has reignited the spark within Killswitch Engage that many thought was on the wane, particularly on their previous effort, the self titled Killswitch Engage album of 2009, which barring a couple of stand out tracks felt like the effort of a band who were running out of ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth on Disarm The Descent. Fire, enthusiasm and a feeling of tremendous energy emit themselves from this album at every turn, even on the slower numbers. The opening onslaught of "The Hell In Me" (arguably the best opening track of any album so far this year) sees Killswitch Engage bring a wonderful synchronicity between the brutal and the melodic. A Tribute To The Fallen will resonate with listeners on many levels (and will demand loud live singalongs with it's monster chorus) while the album closing Time Will Not Remain thunders along with pace and power few bands can keep up throughout an entire album but Killswitch manage it here with ease. The thoroughly enjoyable first single from the album "In Due Time" also deserves special mention as it was the first sign of very good things to come and boasts another one of those trademark choruses just destined to be sung by thousands upon thousands at festivals all around the world.
The very encouraging signs of Mr Leach still being at the peak of his powers show on the Times Of Grace album of 2011 are realised in full on Disarm The Descent, with Jesse switching between the various styles of vocals as easily as most people would change the channel using a TV remote. Any aspiring metal singers out there would do well to take note of this album as a marker of how to sing multiple styles in a very successful fashion. The rest of the band seem to have taken his return as a kick up the backside as well, with Adam D and Joel Stroetzel firing memorable riffs off like they'll never have another chance to pick up a guitar. The rhythm section of Justin Foley and Mike D'Antonio too seem to have stepped up, underpinning the album with precision which often explodes into a battering of the senses, in a very enjoyable sense.
Overall, Disarm The Descent is everything one could have hoped for from Jesse's return. Killswitch Engage once again sound like a band with real power behind them and this album may well push them back towards the top of metal's unspoken ranking system when they had previously seemed stuck in the middle of the pack. The quality in the album is maintained from start to finish and is a thoroughly wonderful modern metal album. A 2013 metal essential.
Disarm The Descent is out now on Roadrunner Records.