"Atonement" (Metal Blade; 2020)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I am listening to the new Killswitch Engage release, "Atonement," and I have to say, whatever these dudes need to atone for, this recording should do the trick.

The music here is metal, pure and simple, with loud, screaming vocals thundering bass, drums and guitar and that's just part of what you get with this band. Killswitch Engage is what some call "metalcore" music. Personally, I have always hated that fucking term. It puts a boundary around the music that is not needed or wanted. I just call it killer fucking music. Clear enough, right?

The songwriting ability of Killswitch Engage is way above whatever is going on elsewhere in metal today. This band has been around since 1999 and they have paved their way through the years as one great band that obviously can last. "Atonement" rocks with an intensity and clarity that this reviewer thinks should be experienced live. I have yet to witness that, but hope to change that in the future.

I have to say this shit is real: no bullshit, no filler, no staging, just metal it should be -- full of attitude and right in your fucking face. If you are listening to "Atonement," make sure your volume is at 10 or Spinal Tap's 11. This music rocks at normal volume but takes it up a notch when it's extremely loud.

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"Disarm the Decent" (Roadrunner; 2013)

Reviewed by Austin Rogers

This disc marks the sixth studio album by Killswitch Engage. They continue on with their great progressive rock style, smooth and growlier vocals mixed together and the powerful guitar that heeds the galloping drums. This is one horse to bet on at the race track.

Each song on “Disarm the Decent” gets heavier and heavier as it stampedes along. This offering is chock full of guitar solos and heavy riffs which makes this album such a head-banging disc.

"New Awakening" has some wicked riffs, licks, and an intense solo. "The Turning Point" has a nice little squeal in the beginning and a face-melting solo coupled with a galloping guitar. "Always" is not as heavy as you would expect but it’s just as good as the other songs on this album.

The music settles into a familiar sound but with such a great band we allow it.

Killswitch Engage: Jesse Leach – lead vocals; Adam Dutkiewicz – lead guitar, backing vocals; Joel Stroetzel – rhythm guitar; Mike D'Antonio – bass; Justin Foley – drums.

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"Killswitch Engage" (Roadrunner; 2009)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Not to be mistaken for their 2000 release by the same name, this self-titled CD was released in 2009. That out of the way, lets get to the real issue at hand: The music.

"Killswitch Engage" (2009) rocks hard and heavy, just the way this band did in 2000, without skipping a beat. This is well thought-out intense rock'n'roll that is fun and easy to listen to. The vocals are forceful and aggressive, yet still recognizable, and the music is alive and full of life.

Music like that found on this CD is the reason I got into reviewing music in the first place. It's hard music that is fun and comes without the heavy emotional baggage associated with some heavy music of the genre.

This band still rocks hard and heavy enough to justify having two self-titled CDs in their catalog.

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"As Daylight Dies" (Roadrunner; 2006/2007)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I picked up this CD because I had heard the single "My Curse" on the radio one night. It was a face-bashing four minutes and I knew I had to have more. Since then I've gone back and gathered up the rest of the rockography that Killswitch Engage have released. Fans of this band know that the music is top notch and when you need an aggressive metal disc to fulfill a need these guys will always deliver.

Heavy riffs + blistering solos + incredible vocals +
pounding drums = Killswitch Engage. The music and lyrics are not depressing or brooding; it's more of a metal hybrid between melodic metal and hardcore music. The vocals are a fair mix between aggressive growls and clean vocals so you get a good balance and that allows the song to move from one side of the pendulum to the other.

The guitar is just plain nasty! It can be clean or gritty and when it's full on you had better get ready for a wild ride. These guys play with a full tank of tough on each track. The rhythm guitar keeps a monstrous background going for the lead to come in and out and also burst onto the scene with pinches, solos and short little blasts of metal perfection. Technically this band (for me) is on the same par as Dream Theater: they are proficient without being too practiced.

Howard Jones writes all the lyrics so when he sings or screams the songs he knows just how he wants them to sound. I love how he can start out with a melodic chorus and then scream his way into a whole new song without ever leaving the mic. This disc was re-released to add four bonus B-sides including a video for the three singles released: "My Curse," "The Arms of Sorrow" and a killer cover of Dio's "Holy Diver."

Killswitch Engage: Howard Jones – lead vocals, clean vocals; Adam Dutkiewicz – lead guitar, clean vocals; Joel Stroetzel – rhythm guitar; Mike D'Antonio – bass guitar; Justin Foley – drums.

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"The End of Heartache" (Roadrunner; 2004)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Taking the metal world by storm is not an easy task, yet the five men that comprise Killswitch Engage have done exactly that through endless touring, cascading metal compositions, and flawless musicianship over the last few years. 

With the lead singer and drumming positions filled permanently by members of the crushing Blood Has Been Shed, the band's latest release, "The End of Heartache," further showcases KSE's love affair with emotionally-tinged, potently heavy, and all around enchanting metal. The twelve track collection exhibits a group whose punishing metal output, found on tracks like the pounding "World Ablaze" as well as the hammering opener "A Bid Farewell," stands up alongside any of the scene's current faves. Yet, there's so many nuances possessed by KSE that give this band the edge to reign supreme - like Howard Jones' transformation from melodic wailer to death metal vocalist during the course of a single song - that make KSE damn near untouchable. 

Blending the perfect balance of ferocious verses with memorable choruses, this sophomore effort shines from beginning to end as a veritable piece of classic metal that you can crank up right next to your Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Slayer discs. Jam packed with spurts of brutal beauty and pristine powerhousing, tracks like the driving "When Darkness Falls" and the breakneck staccato of "Breathe Life" are among the many highlights Killswitch Engage's latest album brings to the thirsty metal ears that have heard it all before ... but never quite like this. 

"The End of Heartache" is a true metal gem that any metal fan needs to get their hands on at any cost.

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"Alive or Just Breathing" (Roadrunner; 2002)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I have to admit that I wasn't too excited when I saw that a Roadrunner release ended up in my box for review. Being open-minded I put Killswitch Engage's "Alive Or Just Breathing" in the ol' CD player with low expectations. Then I heard the aggressive music soon followed by harsh vocals which I have come to love over the last few years. And then the flair for vocal melodies strikes during the choruses and I was blown away.

Shame on me, I should have known better. I made a similar mistake with Angel Dust's "Bleed" a few years back and convinced myself I wouldn't dismiss a band so easily ever again - once again the last laugh is on me and I have Killswitch Engage to thank.

Killswitch Engage play a vibrant form of metalcore with a healthy dose of melodic passages, both musical and vocal, that infuse the 'Gothenburg sound' into their sound. In fact, Killswitch Engage have the yin and yang of Soilwork's growling/clean vocals - you may regard that as a very high compliment.

The lyrics have the quintessential positive vibe of self-improvement and inner strength that has been a staple of American hardcore for the better part of nearly three decades. It's nice to see a younger generation of bands continue that particular thread. Actually, Killswitch Engage aren't newcomers to the music business as their members have performed in the legendary Overcast as well as Aftershock and Nothing Stays Cold. In any case, Killswitch Engage have a particular blend of experience and pizzazz that have them poised for success. You can hear instantly.

Of particular note are the tracks "Self Revolution," "Fixation On The Darkness," and "Life To Lifeless." Each of these songs blend aggressive riffing and melodies in catchy ways that seem like a breath of fresh air. Most of the tracks are concise, aggressive nuggets of metalcore with (dare I say it?) beautiful choruses that enlighten the band's brutality with grace and power. The bottom-line: "Alive Or Just Breathing" is a remarkable aural experience.

"Alive Or Just Breathing" was produced by Adam Dutkiewicz.

Killswitch Engage is Jesse David Leach on vocals, Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz on guitars, Mike D'Antonio on bass, and Tom Gomes on drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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