Review Summary: Possibly Killswitch Engage's best moments, yet overshadowed by what came before.
Killswitch Engage is a fantastic example of what we call a “household” name when it comes to metalcore. As one of the innovators of the early 2000’s melodic death metal influenced brand of metalcore, up there with other genre staples All That Remains and Shadows Fall, it’s hard to argue that they don’t deserve the sentiment. 2002’s Alive Or Just Breathing
put them on the map, and 2004’s The End Of Heartache
even more so, despite the departure of original vocalist Jesse Leach just before. It was the addition of new vocalist Howard Jones that revitalized the band at the time and allowed them to obtain a Grammy nomination the following year. Enter 2006 and the band seemed poised to push even further with As Daylight Dies
, their fourth full length record. Killswitch Engage refuse to disappoint.
After the eschewing of some of their hardcore punk roots in favor of a more refined melodic metal heavy sound on The End Of Heartache
received such a great reception, the band clearly realized that it was smart to stick with that formula. While there isn’t a drastic change in sound, KSE refined and honed the tricks and trade they began and forged it into an iron hard piece of music, all the while keeping it fresh and interesting. Every member of the band sounds more confident in their respective roles. The guitars sound tight and crunchy whether delivering punishing chugged riffs and breakdowns, or soaring harmonies and melodic choruses. The rhythmic backbone is rock hard, with a thick low end bass and fluid, yet rather understated, drum work propelling the record. Howard Jones, while not taking any hard right turns with his vocals, sounds better than ever. His screams are vicious and the clean vocals, strengthened with his signature rich bass tone, soar to even greater heights. In the end As Daylight Dies
showcases KSE as a more self-assured and well-oiled machine.
The album kicks off with the title track, which builds ominously with staticy feedback and underlying guitars riffs. A dark spoken word piece ratchets up the tension for the first riff to pound in the listeners ear. The first track proves to be one of the most aggressive on the album, a fitting choice as it catches the listener’s attention from the get go and holds it long enough for the first chorus to ensnare them further. Despite this first burst of crushing material, the next couple of tracks showcase the melodic sensibilities of the band. “This Is Absolution” employs gorgeous clean guitar sections, and “The Arms Of Sorrow” is a near radio ready single, with mostly clean vocals, despite the presence of some heavy riffing. “My Curse” is a touch more aggressive than “The Arms Of Sorrow”, but remains one of the biggest radio hits for the band. The melodically explosive bridge pushes it to extraordinary heights. Further highlights include “Break The Silence” a longer and faster track, with mountains of great lead guitar work, and “Desperate Times”, one of the biggest changes of pace as it’s slow melancholy song with a lot of built up tension across its length.
The negatives are few and far between for Killswitch Engage. Breakdowns, one of the biggest factors holding down the many young bands coming after Killswitch, are surprisingly not an issue here. While due in no small part to the fact that the trademark passages hadn’t been so oversaturated as of yet, nonetheless the mosh inducers found here are used fairly sparingly and to great effect. Detractors of the band could say that the bass tracks do little to stand out aside from filling out the lower frequencies and song structures are fairly predictable. Killswitch employs the classic verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge structure, but the components are filled out and executed well enough that it isn’t a much of an issue. Occasional clean guitar passages and well executed bridges keep songs exciting. The bass is a tad inaudible, but with how thick the overall low end sounds, it’s hard to find too much fault in it. The production for the album is one of the best in the genre. All the instruments sound crisp and clear without sounding overly processed.
As Daylight Dies
is arguably one of Killswitch Engage's best moments, yet one of their more underrated releases. The issue is understandable coming off of the coattails of their previous groundbreaking releases, but I consider this a worthy addition to anyone’s collection. Any fan of metalcore and melodic metal in general should find plenty to love here.