Review Summary: Jesse Leach's return to Killswitch Engage seems to have spawned a rebirth in the band, as KSE delivers some of it's most vicious and cathartic material in years. Killswitch Engage sounds hungry again on Disarm The Descent.
The circumstances surrounding Jesse Leach's return to Killswitch Engage are well-known by now, so I won't spend much time dwelling on them. Howard Jones developed diabetes, and seemed to lose interest in KSE, so he left. Jesse Leach auditioned for his old position, and (of course) was brought back into the band. Killswitch Engage then recorded their latest record, Disarm The Descent. There are Team Howard fans & Team Jesse fans, but I am not here to engage that discussion.
Those of you who are looking for Alive Or Just Breathing Part II, will not find it here. Alive Or Just Breathing was simply one of the very best metalcore records released in the last decade, and it would be nearly impossible for any band to follow it up. Moreover, if you're looking for more material in the vein of Adam D. & Jesse's side-project Times Of Grace, it is not to be found here. However, in Disarm The Descent you will find a great metalcore record for what that genre has become.
Opener The Hell In Me nearly runs right over itself in the first few seconds, but it comes back to what many fans have been waiting for: the sound of Jesse Leach screaming over Joel Stroetzel & Adam D. guitar riffs and pounding Justin Foley drums. The entire band immediately sounds rejuvenated on this first track, and that feeling carries through the rest of Disarm The Descent. KSE even slows things down a bit for the quasi-ballad Always, but otherwise it's full ***ing speed ahead.The riffs are lean & vicious, and the drums thunder away. Mike D'Antonio is pretty much buried down in the mix in terms of his bass, but that's to be expected.
However, this CD is the Jesse Leach show. He is the star here, as his vocals fit Killswitch Engage like a glove, and his return is in fine form. His screams are powerful as ever, and when he does sing, it's a welcome reprise from the brutality. In particular, his vocals shine on the first single In Due Time. The chorus is absolutely infectious, and will get stuck in your head. Don't get me wrong, I love Howard Jones, but there's just something about hearing Jesse Leach's vocals in the context of Killswitch Engage that just feels right and proper. Jesse's lyrics continue in the Killswitch Engage tradition of positive, uplifting, vaguely religious words. It's definitely a cut above from the usual metalcore bull***.
Like I said before, Disarm The Descent is not Alive Or Just Breathing Part II, and it does not continue what Adam D. & Jesse started in Time of Grace. But, it is a good Killswitch Engage record, and a step up from the hit-and-miss affair of Howard's last record with KSE, 2009's self-titled disc. Disarm The Descent is the sound of a re-invigorated and hungry Killswitch Engage.