Killswitch Engage – Killswitch Engage

People make a big deal about this being Killswitch Engage’s ‘heaviest’ release, which I find a rather dumb point to make, as though assuring a reader that it’s the heaviest thing the band’s ever done is going to make Suffocation fans rush out and buy it so they can hear the ultra-brutal Killswitch Engage record they’ve been missing for so long.  Additionally, it being ‘heavier’ than other material doesn’t say anything about its quality at all, so it’s a rather moot point unless the band can construct something worthwhile.  To top it off though, I don’t see how this is particularly heavy at all; minus some double bass and tremolo riffs I honestly don’t see how this is any different from the vast majority of modern alternative rock.  To add insult to injury, it’s not even a particularly good modern rock album; the songwriting is rather fundamentally unmemorable and I see no reason to really buy or listen to this unless you have a hardon for saying you know what Killswitch Engage sounded like before they obtained immense popularity.

As previously stated, these are essentially radio rock songs gussied up with some melodeath riffs and somewhat more dense drumming.  I don’t even consider the screaming vocals to be particularly inaccessible considering that unclean vocals are now practically par for the course in rock music, so I won’t even bother to state that they do anything to make this even marginally more ‘extreme’.  Even when viewed as a rock album this is very unexciting music; the riffs seem designed specifically not to surprise the listener lest they get an unwanted raising of the pulse.  It’s about as gentle and nonconfrontational as metalcore can possibly be; even the production is rather flat so it doesn’t offend anyone’s sensibilities.  The song structures are utterly predictable and there’s never a moment where the band does something surprising, intense, or surprisingly intense.  What you can expect: shouted/screamed/clean vocals, riffs that alternate between nu-metal chugging, conventional rock chords and a bit of tremolo, and drumming which does its best to imitate the mediocrity of the guitars.

The metal scene seems to have a weird fascination with the early, ‘heavier’ works of metalcore bands which I’ve never fully understood.  Judging by this, Killswitch Engage was actually LESS interesting earlier in their career because they couldn’t even manufacture a decent pop song like they were able to later on, so what’s the point?  Is the incompetence at writing interesting music supposed to endear me to them?  The sad thing is, I think that’s the position that a lot of metalheads seem to come from regarding this album and similar releases, since appreciating well-composed pop music is anathema to metal values, but if it’s a subpar and unpopular early release from a now-famous band, well then it’s just fantastic!  Whatever, skip this, you won’t be missing anything.  Completely and utterly mediocre from start to finish.

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~ by noktorn on September 5, 2008.

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