Killswitch Engage
Killswitch Engage II


1.5
very poor

Review

by Oneiron USER (9 Reviews)
June 23rd, 2009 | 32 replies | 4,210 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lamb of God isn't the only band into ripping themselves off anymore.

3 of 7 thought this review was well written

I remember hearing Fixation on the Darkness a long, long time ago on the Headbanger's Ball compilation. I was just getting into metal at the time and the song was important in shaping my views on the genre as a whole at the time. I had only one real complaint about the song and that was the singing. I felt that the overblown theatrics didn't fit the song, and still feel to this day that Mr. Jones has some of the worst harsh vocals in the business since he joined KsE. A few months later I bought End of Heartache and fell moderately in love with the band.

Not too long after that I bought Alive or Just Breathing and was blown away by the sheer intensity of the album. Jesse was the driving force behind the band's power, and though it was attempted to emulate that to some extent on End of Heartache, any attempt to make powerful music was thrown to the curb for 2006's As Daylight Dies. Howard's scream became far less gritty and harsh, and his cleans began to border on operatic or power metal wailing, often clashing with the music the band was creating. The rest of the band continued to improve both as songwriters and musicians, but were being held back by a singer with a lot of potential but little ability to give a moving performance.

Now three years later the band have delivered an album that was advertised as progressive and a redefining of the band. And this is partially true. On their second self titled the band have indeed made a stylistic change, but it's the change they should've avoided instead of the one everyone was hoping for.

Gone are the powerful songs completely. No more Just Barely Breathing or Numbered Days. No more End of Heartache or Wasted Sacrifice. Not a single song even comes close to My Curse or Still Beats Your Name, and they weren't particularly great to begin with. What we have instead are eleven tracks of overly produced, poppy, power influenced, mainstream metal. Nothing here is different than what had been on As Daylight Dies, it's just more technical and less inspired.

The album starts on a high note with Never Again. This is the most aggressive track the band has written since Alive or Just Breathing. Everything here is where it should be, the instrumentation is great and for once Howard's vocals do something other than destroy the song. About halfway through he pulls some guttural lows that are simply astounding, but completely unheard from him since he joined KsE. But after this burst of aggression, the band quickly falls into redundancy.

Of the other high notes, Reckoning is another fast paced aggressive song and Save Me is the same formula they repeat from Daylight Dies, just done much, much better. The Return is notable for being the "ballad" of the album. The beginning is reminiscent of Kamelot's work on Ghost Opera, and quickly shifts into End of Heartache (the song, not the whole album) territory. It's catchy and mournful and hints at what the band could do if they reigned Howard in just a little.

The other seven songs on the album are far worse. They all, and I do mean all, follow the same exact patterns. The only thing to compare this to is Lamb of God's work on Wrath, where almost every song was indistinguishable from the rest of the album. The difference between the bands is that Lamb of God was enjoyable to listen to, Killswitch is not this time around.

Every song has the same uplifting guitar melodies and tone. Almost every song on the album is sickeningly sweet and polished. And they all sound the same. some songs have clean interludes, some have solos and some have breakdowns. And you still won't remember which song was which when it's over. The rhythm section holds everything together nicely though, and provides the most interesting portion of the music. And that's about all that can be said for it.

What kills this album is pretty much what killed Daylight Dies, Howard Jones. Listen to the choruses of Starting Over, Light in a Darkened World, and I Would Do Anything. I'll wait. Now if you could tell them apart I congratulate you. Several times during the course of the album I had to check and make sure it hadn't switched to an earlier song, and every time was during a chorus.

The soaring cleans have really undermined what the band set out to do when they formed. Their first self titled and Alive or Just Breathing were both about merging the whole band in every song to make music that was not necessarily technical, but still powerful and memorable. This is noticeable even on End of Heartache, but sometime after that it seems like the band began writing music solely for Howard's voice, giving him plenty of opportunity to exercise his opera lessons. Coupled with a complete lack of any apparent inspiration, Killswitch have almost destroyed what respect they had garnered for their first few albums.

They've definitely proven that they can write a popular, accessible metal album for people who don't listen to metal. But the question should still be asked... Just because you can, should you?



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user ratings (1146)
Chart.
2.6
average
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Crownley (2.5)
    Killswitch Engage attempts to appeal to a larger audience, but forgets how to appeal to th...

    Locrian (3)
    Although it doesn't live up to what the band promised, Killswitch Engage's fifth album is ...

    Blindsided (4)
    Brutal, crushing, melodic and just as metal as you ordered your Killswitch....

    when_darkness_falls (3)
    More of the same from Metalcore icons makes for dull listening.......

  • peartnoy (3.5)
    Overly catchy and somewhat repetitive, but still a very pleasant listen....

    ZomarK (2.5)
    Progression? I see no Progression. Sure they are more technical but I was really lookin fo...

    Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF (2.5)
    A flub, pure and simple. Let's hope Killswitch Engage re-evaluate their "new direction" an...

    Nosferatwo (3)
    Killswitch puts on the brakes and stops their descent into self-parody....

  • Are You A Wizard? (2.5)
    "Killswitch Engage" covers no real new ground in terms of musical progression, with the ba...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Wizard
June 23rd 2009



19329 Comments


I never found Jones to be that bad of a singer but to each his own. Good review.

Digging: YOB - Clearing The Path To Ascend

Willie
Moderator
June 23rd 2009



15908 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0


What kills this album is pretty much what killed Daylight Dies, Howard Jones
Yep.

Oneiron
June 23rd 2009



194 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I never said Jones can't sing, he can sing well. But he needs to reign it in instead of being overly indulgent as he was on Daylight Dies and this album. If he would have kept it at about End of Heartache indulgence this album might have been much, much better.

ninjuice
June 23rd 2009



6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Howard's scream became far less gritty and harsh, and his cleans began to border on operatic or power metal wailing, often clashing with the music the band was creating.

Howard has sounded very much the same on the past three albums, and if he "clashed" with the rest of the band he would have done the same on Heartache. You also contradict yourself when you say the band began writing music to fit his voice.
Definitely isn't a 1.5 either.

Lunarfall
June 23rd 2009



3179 Comments


Howard Jones appears to have the same problem as Warrel Dane of Nevermore. Both need to vary up their vocals more...

Oneiron
June 23rd 2009



194 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I disagree sir, there is a world of difference between his vocals on Heartache and on Daylight Dies, especially in his cleans. Album is boring and repetitive, only one track would I actually recommend to anyone else. But they've been getting on my nerves more and more since heartache.

ninjuice
June 23rd 2009



6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

No idea how you can hear that but w/e

morjens
June 23rd 2009



207 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This guy is an idiot, bad review. You've got a horrible ear for music if you can't hear the difference between the choruses for those 3 songs mentioned.

The vocals are just fine, this is the best vocal performance ever on a killswitch record as far as clean singing goes.

Oneiron
June 23rd 2009



194 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Played immediately back to back you can tell the difference, as the album plays through they sound the same. I forgot which song was playing.

And yeah, Howard gives a flawless performance, it just brings the music down to where it's unlistenable. His indulgent near operatic singing ruins this album. Deal with it. Album sucks.

Nosferatwo
June 23rd 2009



17 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

If you think that Howard sounds like a power metal singer, or that this is "sickeningly sweet", you have obviously listened to very little music in your life. That's not me saying that you're wrong to dislike the album, but your criticism is wrong in every way.

Si1v3RfaNg
June 23rd 2009



815 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I agree with Nosferatwo... but I won't neg cuz it wasn't badly written. He does not at all resemble power metal singing... listen to Gamma Ray and then say that. And I also agree that his screams have actually gotten better, they sounded forced back on TEOH... and actually thought ADD was better than TEOH, but thats me. Also I again agree that Jesse Leech is FAR more talented than Jones.

Oneiron
June 23rd 2009



194 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Ever heard of Kamelot? i can hear similarities at least in tone. And I said power metal influenced, not "Howard has lost his balls and started fighting dragons." To say that there is no power metal influence to his vocals is ridiculous. Or should I broaden that to include traditional metal acts such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden?

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
June 23rd 2009



16083 Comments


I think it's more 80's metal than power metal, although one could say that about power metal anyways

Si1v3RfaNg
June 23rd 2009



815 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I mean I guess you could say it's MILDLY influenced by power metal... but power metal is more about soaring falsetto's and holding ridiculously long notes. But anyways how you think Howard got worst is beyond me... but yeah Jesse Leech is a beast.

I mean I'm a vocalist... and Howard's screams sound much more natural and clean on here than TEOH.

Oneiron
June 23rd 2009



194 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

More natural yes, but they seem to lack bite on most songs. on a technical level, Howard didn't get worse, it's how he meshes with the music that irks me. There is so much potential an he walks all over the songs. And I'm also a vocalist, or was til I moved. Production can make vocals sound better or worse, not just ability.

Si1v3RfaNg
June 23rd 2009



815 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah I guess... I do hate the annoying over-production on this album tbh... I just think Howard is much better now than back on TEOH. Like on TEOH his voice would crack here and there... on ADD he would mess up RARELY... and on this he nears perfect when it comes to a technical level. But to me, his vocals fit with the music... but that's my opinion. Your entitled to not enjoy his vocal performance.

Oneiron
June 23rd 2009



194 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Guess I just like my music a little dirtier, to each his own

Si1v3RfaNg
June 23rd 2009



815 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Don't get me wrong I like it that way better too... it's just I'm saying he has gotten a lot better. See I love Circle Takes the Square and their vocalists aren't the best in the buisness... but their HUGE amount of passion and energy blows me away.

ninjuice
June 23rd 2009



6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Ever heard of Kamelot?

I adore them. Khan and Howard only sound somewhat similar at pretty rare points.

sspedding
June 24th 2009



4753 Comments


Agree with the majority of the points, I think some of them are completely unfounded and some pretty stoopid. Howard Jones is regarded by many as one of the best vocalists in metalcore "and still feel to this day that Mr. Jones has some of the worst harsh vocals in the business since he joined KsE". I think the album is bad but 1.5 is overly critical.

Apart from this the review is decent.



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