Killswitch Engage
Killswitch Engage: Remastered


2.0
poor

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
December 29th, 2008 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A decent to good album if you're a fan of Jesse Leach "singing" poorly. Otherwise, new listeners and Killswitch veterans alike should beware.

Last winter I discovered a band called Killswitch Engage, mostly through a song called "My Curse" which was featured on the new guitar hero of the year. I loved the song and soon collected every Killswitch album I could get my hands on.

There was only one I couldn't seem to find, and that was their eponymous debut. However, through the magic of Christmas, I was graced with the CD which I considered a veritable lost treasure.

Oh god, they should've kept it buried.

I knew coming in that the vocals of the album would be performed by Jesse Leach, and at the time was practically ecstatic about it. I loved Alive or Just Breathing above either of their other releases in my possession. "My Last Serenade" was probably my favorite song at the time. But Jesus Christ, I just can't deal with his voice on this album.

It sounds like he's just trying to be harsh for the sake of harshness, growling and cookie monstering through every vocal section he can. At times he puts some death metal singers to shame. And while his clean vocals are decent and at times pleasant, they're far too few and far between for me.

Now, looking back on this after having listened a bit more extensively to all of the Killswitch albums in my collection, and having seen them live this past January, I've come to embrace Howard a lot more than I had previously, and the comparison makes this album look even worse. Now, Jesse's probably a better lyricist, but Howard has a much less abrasive vocal style compared to Jesse. You can tell Howard is singing through most of the choruses and such, while Jesse tends to either talk, or scream-sing, where you can tell his throat is probably still slashed up like a teenager in a Jason movie and he just can't get the sound right.

While the sound of the album is established by Jesse's voice as a lot more harsh than subsequent Killswitch albums, the music isn't entirely bad. However, the majority of it is reliant on heavy, stomping guitars with breakdowns that leave a lot to be desired. The drums are surprisingly good, especially when you consider that Adam D., current guitarist for Killswitch provided percussion on this album. But the skill he offers in this area isn't enough to make up for the lack of his signature guitar work or even the absence of his backing vocals.

The album is further hindered by the fact that three of the nine tracks on the album are available on later Killswitch releases in better quality. (or, in the case of "Irreversal," a better version altogether). "Vide Infra" and "Temple From The Within" are both on Alive or Just Breathing, while "Irreversal" was re-recorded with Howard doing the vocals on the special edition of The End of Heartache.

There are a few gem tracks on this album that you won't find anywhere else in the Killswitch catalog, though. "In The Unblind," "Rusted Embrace," and "One Last Sunset" are the three tracks that keep the album from being a complete and total waste. "In The Unblind" for actually having a catchy guitar sound reminiscent of the later Killswitch Engage sound, "Rusted Embrace," for its interesting tempo changes, which, when coupled with Jesse's clean asides makes a good track, and "One Last Sunset" for being a slow, almost bright, but fitting instrumental outro laced with a cool acoustic overlay. It's this track that definitely tells you that the band will be back.

At first it seems that "Irreversal" is going to be one of these tracks as well. When I hear the quick blast beats Adam can deliver alongside a catchy chorus, I start to bang my head. Couple that with a clean guitar break for intrigue and you'd think you have a winner, right" Nope, Jesse manages to mess it up by immediately screaming "the sacrifice of this body!" and ends it with a screaming vocal break that's just... Incomprehensible and annoying through and through.

"Prelude" is a good enough track, too, but it was later adapted, it seems, to become the entire Alive or Just Breathing album. As a matter of fact, most of the riffs on this album seem to make a reappearance on that album and when they do, they're much better.

The songs on this album, or at least their arrangement, make it feel incredibly long. Long to the point where I'm bored less than halfway through the album. Even the less than two minute long "Prelude" feels long - something which can be attributed to the heavy, dragging sound that's consistent through much of the album.

I guess it was some attempt to make up for all of this or to appeal to hardcore fans that the reissue came packaged with demo versions of "Prelude," "In The Unblind," "Soilborn," and, in case you hadn't heard it enough, "Vide Infra." These demo versions are all just even worse quality versions (as you'd expect) of tracks already on the CD. They are, however, played with a slightly lighter tone and at a slightly slower pace, so if that's your bag, I guess you'll like it. They did nothing for me.

Overall, the few highlights of Killswitch Engage just aren't enough to compensate for the lack of Adam's guitar, Jesse's awful performance, and the repetitive, slow sound of the album. While it does indicate the much more spectacular entity which the band would come to evolve into, it should be noted that this album is NOT that entity. It's simply a bump along the road.



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user ratings (278)
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3.7
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Comments:Add a Comment 
gaslightanthem
December 29th 2008


5209 Comments


erm like jesse is awesome

AtomicWaste
Moderator
December 29th 2008


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Meh. I can't stand him.

Digging: Benjamin Clementine - I Tell A Fly

AtomicWaste
Moderator
December 29th 2008


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Well, actually I can on AJB, but he sucks on this album.

PigDestroyer89
December 29th 2008


669 Comments


bad review

Zizzer
December 29th 2008


915 Comments


I need to check out AOJB, then I'll decide whether or not I should pursue this

AtomicWaste
Moderator
December 29th 2008


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

bad review




Elaborate?

PigDestroyer89
December 29th 2008


669 Comments


nah

thejared
December 29th 2008


229 Comments


Jessie is awesome!! but it isn't that great.. prolly a 3/5

badtaste
December 29th 2008


824 Comments


Sputnikmusic etiquette: don't post consecutive reviews.

botb
December 29th 2008


11049 Comments


tbh if you don't appreciate jesse leach i'm not sure what to tell you. he rules really hard.

AtomicWaste
Moderator
December 29th 2008


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Like I said, he's cool on AOJB, but this album... Bleh.

AtomicWaste
Moderator
December 29th 2008


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Sputnikmusic etiquette: don't post consecutive reviews.




If you mean the one that went up for AOJB, that wasn't a review, that was an accidental post of this review which was deleted because I selected the wrong album after a login glitch.

McP3000
December 30th 2008


3984 Comments


Jesse is better than Howard Jones, and their releases with Jesse are more consistent, but overall still weak metalcore albums

mynameischan
Emeritus
December 30th 2008


17946 Comments


i love howard but i was never a big fan of jesse

SlaveLabor
December 30th 2008


453 Comments


Jesse>>>>>>>>>>>Howard but I'm kinda tired of this band now

DeathThrashProg
December 30th 2008


498 Comments


Howard>>>>>>>>>>>Jesse but I'm kinda tired of this band now


Spamue1G
December 30th 2008


1291 Comments


Jesse > Howard, but only just. I'm glad that they got Howard when they did, because I don't think that Jesse would been able to handle another album, and they've also improved live with Howard thanks to his excellent singing voice.
I'm not interested in this if Adam D isn't doing the guitars or any of the vocals, he's my favourite part of KSE, so yeah. I wasn't that interested in this anyway.

DeathThrashProg
December 30th 2008


498 Comments


Jesse > Howard, but only just. I'm glad that they got Howard when they did, because I don't think that Jesse would been able to handle another album, and they've also improved live with Howard thanks to his excellent singing voice.

If they've improved live because of Howard's voice, then surely you think he is a better singer
Anyway Jesse is horrific live on that Roadrunner United dvd, did he break his vocal cords or something?

Spamue1G
December 30th 2008


1291 Comments


He's a better SINGER. Not a vocalist in general, and he's not that much better in the studio. But when they play live, he's better - He just doesn't have the same kind of edge on his screaming that Jesse had.

AtomicWaste
Moderator
December 30th 2008


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

this cd has some of the best killswitch engage songs regardless of whether they feature adam or are not not necessarily played at the same bpm as on alive or just breathing and considering this noob reviewer only got into kse via guitar hero "my curse" i'm hardly surprised he doesn't get the album


Sorry I don't have friends who are mad into Killswitch, brah. I'm also generally not a big fan of metalcore, so when I'd heard them described as such around the web, I never had an interest. I heard the song and liked it, which was enough to get me to give them a try, and I liked the band.



At the time I was also very against screaming vocals, though I listen to a lot of different bands which incorporate them now. My rule of thumb when it comes to screaming is that the instrumentation either needs to be amazing and catchy (which it certainly isn't on this album) or there need to be clean vocal breaks (which there really aren't on this album, except where mentioned, and even then, they're weak, or it's just Jesse talking). Otherwise, there may as well not be a vocal component.

This album is just entirely bypassable, since AOJB features better instrumentation and vocals all arond.

Granted I like Howard better, but even if you like Jesse, there's no reason to listen to this album if you have AOJB.



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