Review Summary: One hell of a return for a band pretty much everyone left for dead.Disarm the Descent
is the culmination of this often wayward metalcore pioneer act, not to mention the apogee. Let me just start with that little bit.
Throughout the years, few bands have been as maligned, celebrated, and just plain given up on as Killswitch Engage. They hit the metal world right at the turn of the millennium (smack dab in the middle of the nu-metal peak) and caused quite a stir. Then their initial vocalist (Jesse Leach) left the band, which caused a hell of a divide when replaced by the much more operatic Howard Jones. As the albums passed on, Killswitch Engage ended up leaning towards a highly polished and melodic sound with their so-called "reboot", the second eponymous album released a few years ago. Spoiler alert: It was bad.
Why the history lesson? Because Disarm the Descent
is Killswitch Engage... all the ups and downs and ugliness and beauty and everything they've ever done, reprocessed and delivered as what is ostensibly the follow-up to their breakthrough Alive or Just Breathing
from 2002. It marks the return of Jesse Leach as Howard Jones had to leave the band due to medical reasons. And with the return of Jesse came another unexpected gift: Their balls.
No, seriously. After the absolute trainwreck of Killswich Engage II
, the last thing I expected from this band was the ability to deliver a good, old fashioned metalcore boot to the face. From jump street we get the blast beats, thrashy riffs, screeches, and fantastic hooks this band was destined to make their trademark before they went headfirst into power ballad territory. Now, the biggest thing for fans of the band is simply Jesse's singing, and I have to conclude that while Howard is by far the better singer of the two, Jesse is the better singer for this band. He has an ethereal timbre and a palpable sense of desperation that brings the rest of the band into focus, whereas with Howard the rest of the band was simply supporting that mans absolutely incredible pipes.
Starting things off right, "The Hell in Me" is a modernized "Last Serenade", complete with the slow-down chorus and catchy vocal hook. "In Due Time" starts off with a slithering, nasty riff that shows the band may have been listening to a little Vulgar Display of Power
before recording, and brings it all together with some tasteful melodicism that wouldn't be out of place in any of the Howard Jones albums. "Turning Point" has a galloping, cyclical double bass kick riff that hits you square in the gut. "Time Will Not Remain" is just a great album closer, full of energy and guaranteed to bring out the circle pits.
There are other great songs on here, though a few of them could probably have been trimmed ("All That We Have" and "Beyond the Flames" don't... do it for me). Overall, this album has withstood multiple listens and still continues to deliver the goods. It's more cohesive and better written than Jesse's last album (again... in 2002) and even slightly better than The End of Heartache
as a whole.