Killswitch Engage
Atonement


3.0
good

Review

by Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (288 Reviews)
August 15th, 2019 | 488 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Killswitch by numbers.

It’s hard to blame metalcore for just being itself sometimes. I mean it literally gets to a certain point where even the jaded listeners start to forgive the fact that this humble little chug-happy genre hasn’t exactly gone through much of an innovative period. And despite that, there hasn’t been any remarkable changes to metalcore’s formula it still largely carries the same size fandom as its always had. Sweeping generalizations aside, Killswitch Engage especially lives up to the formulaic consistency they’ve always offered. Safe, melodic, head-banging music with rationally based emotive lyrics that simply does the job without too much fuss. Add a few lines of melody, a couple of infectious noodle riffs and some crystal clear production values and you’ve essentially got the foundation of any Killswitch Engage album. It’s a recipe for success that’s carried the band over the course of the last twenty years. Even with a vocalist “swapsie” that somehow gave the band three musical eras the group’s soundscape didn’t shift too much away from the already working musical formula. Atonement is too caught up in the Killswitch Engage by numbers approach, making it easily likable and frustratingly similar to listen to.

The album’s lead single (and opening track), “Unleashed” continues where 2016’s Incarnate left off. Emotive lyrics and bombastic riffs create a state of preserving self-worth for any engaged listener, but it’s nothing new from the KsE camp. With hooks a plenty, Leach proclaims ”Deceive me/Come face to face with the final stand” and The last of all my tolerance has left this broken man to which he continues touting his usual warming lines of resilience and inspirations used for inner strength. It’s typical Leach, middle finger raised to a world of life struggles and downfalls. His style is as well practiced as it has ever been (which is also rather impressive considering the not-so-minor throat surgery) but it’s the usual smooth delivery and predictable harsh vocals that has become commonplace within the band’s long-running soundscape that carries listeners from one track’s beginnings to another’s end.

In comparison to Killswitch’s last outing Incarnate, this year’s effort, Atonement is more balanced and less anthemic. That’s not to say it’s without energy, but it’s pointedly ‘less’ aggressive than Incarnate’s more relentless modern metalcore approach. The Testament appointed “The Crownless King” (by use of Chuck Billy) showcases Killswitch’s ability to play well with others and Billy’s thrash-y growl may not be the a-typical KsE combination, but it’s one of the few newer tracks that actually stand out from the rest. Songs like “I Am Broken Too” (which deals with depression and suicide) and “I Can’t Be The Only One” may take a dip into the more melodic minor approach (reliving some candied ballad-esque metalcore) but unfortunately, the music itself is just not that interesting. Despite this, other hits like “Know Your Enemy” and “Ravenous” are high octane, tonal ragers.

The biggest nostalgia trip to be found here is where both of the band’s (current and former) vocalists feature together on the same track (who else remembers a certain Roadrunner United [DVD] concert and a live rendition of “My Last Serenade”"). Howard Jones may have a slow, lack-luster, under-mixed start on “The Signal Fire” but by the track’s latter half he’s forgotten his underwhelming Light The Torch vocal nuances and fallen back into the old Killswitch routine. The man’s screams [for the moment] are back to the highest possible standard to which fans had all their extremities crossed, but doesn’t unfortunately reach any farther than the simple track inclusion.

With all that said it’s easy to forget there’s more than just some aging dudes screaming into a microphone. The prolific string wizard Adam Dutkiewicz handles the production as well as shared guitar duties with Joel Stroetzel, while drummer Justin Foley continues a solid, yet unsung workload holding KsE’s collective rhythmic effort together. If the vocals are to be considered a consistent focal point of the group it’s the instrumental efforts that should be considered more so. Bassist Mike D’Antonio continues to work unhindered, continuing his own level of quiet achievements but doesn’t push into the same range of notice as his bandmates. It’s like cogs in the machine, working fine together with little to no maintenance. Some solo work pops up during “Take Control” and the lead work on “The Crownless King” (as well as some seriously on point riff work) stand out, but just not enough to instantly launch Atonement into the band’s best studio efforts.

Largely, Killswitch has been enjoying the same safe proverbial pony ride they have been on for the last twenty years with varying degrees of success. They are doing exactly what they’ve always done and honestly, who could blame them" Atonement is as good as any of Jessie’s second era (2013 -) and occasionally as good as the Howard epoch (minus the second self-titled effort that would mark Howard's last full-length with the band), but fails to deliver to the same tier as Alive Or Just Breathing, As Daylight Dies or The End Of Heartache. Killswitch have become less engaged of late, but they maintain a safe enjoy-ability. It could also be said that Killswitch Engage are doing nothing to help the genre as a whole shift towards more modern musical innovations… but that’s not the intention either. Instead, Atonement is everything you would expect from a band on an enjoyable nostalgia-based autopilot.



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user ratings (100)
Chart.
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
August 15th 2019


9907 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Releases today: Listen here:



https://music.apple.com/us/album/atonement/1466701470

Toondude10
August 15th 2019


13982 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Pretty much sums up my feelings for this, nothing bad but nothing remarkable in the end. Probably my disappointment of the year.

Digging: Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
August 15th 2019


9907 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Probably my disappointment of the year.





Let's face it, if you're expecting anything more from these guys you're kind of letting yourself down. They've found their niche, set up shop and parked a caravan out back.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 15th 2019


9858 Comments


"...this humble little chug-happy genre hasn’t exactly gone through much of an innovative period."

*cracks knuckles* You cruisin' for a bruisin' buckaroonee.

(but it is a nice review. Not really following these fellas anymore but I've got a feeling this is right on the money considering the paths they've taken. Keep it consistent, but there's a cost to that kind of stringent adherence.)

Digging: The Offering - Home

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
August 15th 2019


9907 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Don't threaten me with fisticuffs and not follow through man.



"Keep it consistent, but there's a cost to that kind of stringent adherence."



nailed it.

Butkuiss
August 15th 2019


4594 Comments


As someone who adores AOJB, Times of Grace and Disarm the Descent made me really fuckin hype for Jesse's return to the band, but at this point they've settled back into the same groove as the Howard era. Was hoping they'd pull a 180 and change it up at some point but I guess it ain't happening.

Singles were still enjoyable tho

ExhaleTheLight
August 15th 2019


1037 Comments


Adam should use all of his focus on Serpentine Dominion

joshb9864
August 15th 2019


237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Totally dug the album, there were a lot of solid Killswitch songs here, with quite a few standouts. I'm excited to return for more listens to get more in depth with all of the songs here. Overall the boys supplied another awesome metalcore record.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2019


9907 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Adam should use all of his focus on Times of Grace





*fixed

swipenet
August 16th 2019


3013 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very few surprises, but still a solid record. Not sure I like this as much as DtD though, might have to drop the rating.

Edit: dropped

Hellscythe
August 16th 2019


4062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The Signal Fire rules but man Howard's harsh vocals sound like shit now.

Digging: Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2019


9907 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I actually think his cleans have fallen, he hasn't aged well vocally doing the Devil You Know/Light The Torch pieces,

Hellscythe
August 16th 2019


4062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I could barely distinguish his cleans from Jesse's for most of the song, honestly. not a good sign.

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2019


10329 Comments


Great review. You should include the line about parking the caravan out back. This is about what I expected this was going to be, but I'll probably give it a listen and enjoy it.

Hellscythe
August 16th 2019


4062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ugh what happened to these guys? why did they decide to slow everything down and start chugging once Jesse rejoined?

swipenet
August 16th 2019


3013 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gotta agree with that sentiment. I really dug DtD but these latest two are lacking the RIFFS that made me love Heartache and Breathing.

Hellscythe
August 16th 2019


4062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I get what you mean but at the same time I think the opposite is the problem. they're missing the fast-paced melodic guitar leads and focusing too much on slow, chugging riffs.

swipenet
August 16th 2019


3013 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ah, I think I was unclear. I also love the melodic riffs e.g. Rose of Sharyn, Break The Silence, Reject Yourself, and many of these chugging riffs just blend together, not much stands out.

Much more chugging on these latest two albums than even DtD imo.

Hellscythe
August 16th 2019


4062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah that's exactly the issue. there are no memorable melodies or riffs.



I liked Disarm the Descent a lot when it first came out and I've only grown to like it more over time. I think their approach to writing just changed once Jesse rejoined, because DtD was written when Howard was still in the band and it shows.

swipenet
August 16th 2019


3013 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Makes sense. I also heard that a lot of this album was recorded separately, and it's pretty clear it limited creativity as well.



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