I’ve been fond of Killswitch Engage for as long as I can remember. Their ‘The End of Heartache’ effort was a game-changer; especially so when you’re a teenage angry kid trying to find your individuality and perception in a school structure. Music of that caliber affects one deeply. Needless to say I had to go back and check their back-catalogue. After nibbling on their live-DVD ‘(Set This) Word Ablaze’ for a disturbingly long time and laughing out loud on the shenanigans featured in documentary, this band carved out a special place in my heart and I grew to like everything that they did. I guess this is part due to Adam D’s relentless production standards.
Their latest record, titled ‘Incarnate’ is no exception. When someone like me gets a copy of a new record from a band that I like a lot, there is always a sense of self-deception, given then unfair bias. Keeping this in mind, I decided to listen to this album objectively. The results were a deep dive in self-reflection. As part of my research, I found out that the singer-lyricist Jesse Leach hit a writer’s block during the pre-production of the record. To find out that he did not settle on something passable and actually went back to search for true passion and inspiration affected how seriously I heard this record. Before I speak about the songs, let me put the debate to rest. I adore Howard Jones for his effort during his time in the band, and I adore Jesse’s effort during the first couple of albums and his return to the band; let it be known.
“Alone I Stand” fades into my headphones, and the signature octaves take hold, before the chugging begins. Now would be a good time to start the circle pit. The chorus is worthy of a sing-along. Little did I know that it would be the case for many of the songs on this album. “Cut Me Loose” is slow number. Don’t let that fool you; it’s deliciously heavy and extremely emotional. “Strength of the Mind” was one of the first singles to feature on the Internet. There’s a bit of groove-metal feel on this track, but the chorus takes the cake. A lot to sing along to till the breakdown hits you. The intro to “Just Let Go” and “Until the Day” is just heart-wrenching. The song in whole reminds me of the time when I first heard “The End of Heartache”, which brings me to the next song, “Embrace the Journey … Upraised” which does have a similar sounding outro. Full points to Mike D’Antonio an awesome grumbling bass tone on that one.
Another surprising quality of this album is the amount of harsh and clean backing vocals by Adam D , done on this album. I could sense those signature sounds on “It Falls on Me”. If you’re looking for all out mosh-a-thon, look no further than “The Great Deceit”. The album ends in a similar way to how it started: guitar fade in. This one is a definite head banger, with a fist-pumping chorus although I’d loved it if the song ended in a more grandiose manner than just a breakdown fade-out. I wanted to throw special shout-outs to Justin Foley for his amazing control and balance while playing these groves and Joel Stroetzel for the uber-heavy guitar riffage.
As far as I am concerned, Killswitch Engage practically wrote the book on modern American metalcore and this album is a fine example of it. They have a habit of releasing consistently good records and have yet to fall short on production quality or songwriting. This album was more of a peek into pain and how anything worth doing is always a labour of love. This album has an infectious tendency to grow on the mind. I look forward to see them get some Grammy nods, but just between you and me, it does not really matter.