Fewer bands are more synonymous with the metalcore boom of the previous decade and its development than Killswitch Engage.
With the subgenre currently being hit-and-miss in terms of quality to say the least, you do wonder how the old guard would fare in the present day. Enter their eighth studio album, ‘Atonement’, and their first on Music For Nations and Metal Blade Records.
We’re into first gear straight away with ‘Unleashed’, which showcases plenty of melody and a memorable hook courtesy of frontman Jesse Leach, alongside hulky chugging riffs – certainly what one can always expect from a Killswitch Engage record.
And, with its furious intro, ‘The Signal Fire’ is another highlight, and also brings a treat for long-term fans; previous vocalist Howard Jones is on hand for the second verse of this track, almost battling it out with Leach.
‘The Crownless King’, featuring another guest appearance in the form of Testament‘s Chuck Billy, is another slab of Killswitch Engage owning their craft, and also features reliably stellar guitar work from Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel. There’s no doubting their strengths when they’re on top, particularly when they go for the gut punch.
However, this reliability also serves as a bit of a bugbear. There isn’t really much in the way of expansiveness, and it could be said that Killswitch Engage aren’t a band to be relied upon to take risks these days, but to give you their trademark sound as expected. Also, lighter offerings such as ‘Us Against The World’ are a little non-descript compared to some of the other tracks. ‘I Am Broken Too’ no doubt comes from a genuine place, but it feels a little saccharine and clichéd.
Still, as the album reaches its closing moments, there’s something of an effort to up the ante indeed. If you thought some of the earlier offerings were a little underwhelming, ‘Ravenous’ is another highlight. Closer ‘Bite The Hand That Feeds’ is also more hell-for-leather than what’s come before, generally a harder and faster track featuring particularly emotionally-charged vocals from Leach.
Even if you’re sometimes left wanting more, and it’d probably be pointless to compare this to their landmark records such as ‘The End Of Heartache’, ‘Atonement’ is another solid offering from Killswitch Engage. If you’re a die-hard fan, or just a fan of this brand of metalcore in general, there’s certainly some enjoyment to be found.