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CD Review: KILLSWITCH ENGAGE Disarm the Descent

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There’s been quite the buzz around Killswitch Engage as of late, what with Howard Jones’ departure and original vocalist Jesse Leach stepping in to rejoin the band permanently and appear on his first record in about eleven years. With all that, one would assume that Disarm the Descent would be a masterpiece of modern metal, and while it’s not a bad record by any means, it falls victim to the hype machine and overinflated expectations.

Let’s look at the highlights of Disarm the Descent; the track “You Don’t Bleed for Me” is a galloping crusher that makes use of some odd time in the introduction and a catchy chorus in tandem with some great riffs, while other songs like “The New Awakening” is more of a straightforward metal jam with some great vocal lines and sick riffs, and there are even some monster gang vocals in the intro of “All We Have”, which is then followed up by hammer blasts, riffs, and a eventually a great chorus.

Therein lies my issue with the record: it’s not that I dislike it, and having an abundance of soaring choruses and riffs for days is never a bad thing, but when every single song seems to be the same structure and rely on the same components to make the song distinguish itself from the rest, it just gets kind of boring. It all boils down to sweet riffs and Leach screaming bloody murder in the verse, clean vocals with guitar melodies in the chorus, and then some halftime stuff thrown in there and maybe a solo. If you've heard the single "In Due Time" then you already get what this record is all about. I get that bands have their own sound and that they’re going to adhere to that throughout their career to some degree, but variety certainly isn’t going to kill them either.

That being said, the band does perform exceptionally well on the record. Naturally all the riffs, melodies and solos are top-notch in all their semi-technicality and shreddiness, the rhythm section provides an extremely solid foundation for what the guitars are doing with an unwavering steadiness, and Leach has never sounded better. In fact, I would venture to say that hype aside, Leach is the star of this record. His growls and screams cover the spectrum of that style really well, and his cleans and harmonies are really creative and catchy. The production does the music justice as well, adding to the focused heaviness the album by bringing out what each instrument is doing without getting in the way of each other… awesome.

I genuinely wish I could dig Disarm the Descent more than I do. Like I’ve mentioned a few times, the playing, melodies, and riffs by themselves are great, but when they’re pummeling you to the point of boredom by following each one up with something pretty similar, it’s not helping.

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