Monday, April 8, 2013

Album Review: Killswitch Engage - Disarm the Descent

The past few weeks I've felt like utter shit. I've lacked motivation for everything and anything, and it's kind of starting to scare me. So I did what every layman would do and I googled everything I was feeling. I was led to a page that talked about bipolar disorder, and surprisingly the symptoms match up pretty good. That particular website even let me take a test to determine my symptoms, and whether or not I should seek help. We won't talk about the results, because this is not the place for it. I just wanted to get it out of the way of why I haven't been active.

I lacked motivation but definitely not inspiration, and while I'm in higher spirits I want to let some of it shine through. A lot of things lately haven't been interesting at all to me. Music is even feeling less stimulating. It sounds silly, but I fucking love music. From metal to jazz, to rap and hip-hop to pop, I like a pretty broad range of music. It hurts to feel like I'm not enjoying it anymore. Music is essential to life. It's essential to everything. From as far back as I can remember, music has always been significant in my life. There's absolutely nothing like it.

What strikes me most is when I can listen to something and feel power from it, like a sudden surge of hope and confidence. The hair on my neck even stands up. You'd think I was seriously having an orgasm sometimes. A fucking awesome musical orgasm.

There's a vagina on that guitar.
So how does this tie in with Killswitch Engage's new album? Well, it doesn't sadly, which is a huge fucking disappointment to someone like me who has their Alive or Just Breathing album on repeat, almost every day, and has thoroughly enjoyed their side project Times of Grace. Not that I'm comparing, but something should be said about the fact that I'm still listening to those over Disarm the Descent. It's certainly not Killswitch's best work, but it is astonishingly better than their latest self titled album, which had a more radio-friendly sound rather than raw and aggressive. It features Jesse Leach on vocals, who appeared on the first two albums more than 10 years ago, and 2011's excellent Times of Grace's Hymn of a Broken Man. If anything the album should be classic.

Disarm the Descent starts off great, as any album should. The Hell in Me is pounding, and starts immediately so. Jesse's screams are brutally guttural. In fact, I would say he's at his best as far as technique goes. However, where Jesse's previous outings with the band literally made you think the guy was giving his heart and soul to sell you, here it is another story. There's something raw and heartfelt about the guy's lyrics and the way he sings and screams them on AOJB and their debut. Disarm the Descent lacks this soulfullness. Don't get me wrong, it's a great album and one of Killswitch's better ones, but knowing that it lacks something so intricate is enough to rate it down in my opinion.

Still, Disarm the Descent is great. It's still pretty fucking aggressive, and the chops are still there in spades. Beyond the Flames is a great song that shows that the guys can still make catchy music. The leading riff is toxic, and the chorus is uplifting and catchy as hell, along with The New Awakening and In Due Time showing more of Killswitch's relentless riffing. Jesse might lack emotion in his screams, but not in his singing, as it shows through the album, but does fall a bit flat and laughable in some songs.

All We Have is easily the weakest song on the album. The chorus feels forced. It's not catchy. It's not angry. It just doesn't fit on the album. The drums pound, the guitars are nice, but the lyrics feel like they would be better off on another song, or discarded completely. It lacks feeling and really makes the album lose cohesion.

However, after that is where the album regains its momentum, even if only slightly. You Don't Bleed For Me is absolutely fucking awesome. Again, it's a song that will make your hair stand up. It's fucking epic. The guitars gallop and there's double bass to be had. Jesse crushes the chorus. His singing is unmatched when done right. The Call and No End In Sight are your standard Killswitch affairs, and are both fast and energetic tracks, which is suddenly stopped abruptly with Always. Always is basically a ballad, and its lyrics are pretty mediocre. Compared to what Killswitch is capable of, this sounds like straight out of a 15 year old's diary. The chorus is so cheesy that I can't stand to listen to it. 

Time Will Not Remain is the last track on the standard edition, and what a way to end the album. The leading riff is soaring, and then the song kicks into overdrive. It's frantic, energetic, and when it's over you'll wish the album had more songs like it. That's one of the problems driving this album. It has the potential to be something special, but is marred by weird inconsistencies.

Nevertheless, Disarm the Descent is still a great album. It's nothing special, like AOJB was, but it is a great album for any metal fan. It's fucking catchy as all hell, and it does get better with every listen. I just wish there were more songs like A Tribute To The Fallen and You Don't Bleed For Me. It lacks a little soul and that raw, human emotion AOJB oozed, but that doesn't mean it is lifeless. Disarm the Descent is a great album and a nice return to form for Killswitch Engage.

Update: Since nobody seems to buy music anymore, listen to the whole album on youtube:

I apologize for the lack of humor. :P

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