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Nearly 10 years ago, Massachusetts' finest metal-core band, Killswitch Engage departed with vocalist Jesse Leach (due to personal reasons that still remain sketchy), replaced him with Howard Jones and found mainstream success with three albums spanning 9 years. The End of Heartache was an instant hit with fans and newcomers, Daylight Dies a technical, riff frenzy, full of classics, but 2009's second self titled release was a complete let down to many. The whole band had become stale, thanks to dreary lovelorn lyrics wearing increasingly thin, sitting atop downbeat melodies and song structures. It goes without saying that KsE owe Howard Jones a great deal for their current standing in rock culture, however, will the return of Jesse Leach, the man who laid the foundations with the bands most influential album to date (Alive or Just Breathing) save a seemingly sinking ship?
Dual brutal screams introduce 'Disarm the Discent' and its wonderfully clear that the band have a new lease of life, heavier and better than before. Leach decides to show his versatility - after the screams - debuting a jazzy, rich vocal he found with past side project 'Seemless'. Such sweet singing is snatched away with a real tongue out scream from the belly. "Protect me, from the hell that burns inside me. No one can see, this is the hell in me" provides a brilliant chorus thanks to long held epic guitar notes and some double bass drum picking up momentum. Cue a very short interlude that erupts back into the same line. Track 1 down and the second is equally intense. "Step back to see the vision - seduction of our minds." I can't help but reference every single lyric enough to emphasize how happy I am at this mans reunion with a long loved band. "Her dark embrace will suffocate - choking my senses! There is a fire within her eyes - blinding my senses! Now I am searching - Forwards beyond the flames". The guitars from Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel jump all over the shop in spectacular precise fashion.
3rd on the playlist and 3rd to be revealed is 'The New Awakening' a snarling shouty beast of a song. Super fast guitar mashing and piston like percussion give this one so much bite it stings the ears. The main message of the song being one of clarity and change with lines like "I'd would rather burn out, than fade away!" and "There is more to life than this! - We are more than just this flesh! - We are alive and our time has come, for a new awakening". Then something astonishing happens. Possibly the bands first ever chant - one that will no doubt encourage all to sing back "I-Will-Not-Live-In-Fear" as a medeval like melody gets pushed past by a cavalry charge guitar solo. Already a fan favourite. The first single to be officially released - 'In Due Time' - is a fitting tribute to the return of the reenergised frontman. "How much more can I give of myself - as these walls, close in on me?" An ode to past troubles and a delightful chorus building up the future - "All in due time. See the world through different eyes". Another top notch solo is becoming a welcome standard now.
'A Tribute to the Fallen' seems in hommage for Howard Jones.. "You cannot break this love with hate" - dispels that possibility. Its at this time one makes comparisons with Adam.D and Jesse's last outing in side project 'Times of Grace' as the two team up for a sound more suiting to 'Hymn of a Broken Man'. A long, drawn out exit sounds like a church organ dirge, appropriate for the title. 'Turning Point' is full of anger from the first note, as the ever persistant drumming creates an almighty rhythm. "Find the strength to maintain - give me a reason to believe. Search for truth that will not change" is yet more proof that Leach's lyrics are more genuine and meaningful than Jones', tenfold. It's by this time however, the melodies start to die down a bit for raw power metal and speed. 'All We Have' seems in the same vain as 'Life to Lifeless' with little in the way of positivity, only far more speedy. "Forgiveness is all we have, nothing else will give you a piece of mind" is easily the best of this one, floating over a frantic sweeping guitar.
'You Don't Bleed For Me' sounds similar to Leach's second side project 'The Empire Shall Fall's 'These Colours Bleed'. It's only a title that these share though as this albums is less busy pushy a catchy riff and instead hellbent of sending that powerful message. It's not known who or what Leach is referring to here but "It's clear to me know, you're not what you claim, you don't speak for me. There is no mistake, it's written on your face, you don't bleed for me" - could be about anything from politics to past relationships. 'The Call' doesn't throw its punches with a rhythm that won't be stopped. "Release your inhibitions and answer to the call" is the sirens call in a mess of technical accuracy perceived as utter randomness. "Leave behind this shell of flesh and bone, in the end we will answer to the call."
"The burning question remains, how much is too much to give? Do your wings have the strength to carry on? When we see redemption how long will we wait for deliverance? It takes everything to keep from falling now. Let go." If there's one thing that can introduce someone to KsE, it's the lyrics, proof that heavy metal is not just a bunch of screaming with no substance. 'No End In Sight' - the first song to be revealed (Leaked) was a pleasant reminder of what this band is capable of at full strength. It's a pulsing, righteous rant "Through the suffering we fight/Until we see the light - there's no end in sight". The sound is pure evil as are the harmonised growls. 'Always' looks and sounds like a song off of the 2009 album - slow, predictable, mourning, depression wrapped into an unsatisfying song. Truth be told, the album did need a break from the intensity and that is what 'Always' does. Also not out of place on a ToG album, it slowly trudges through verses and chorus', until Adam.D throws some sweet vocals into the ring with "I am with you always, from the darkness of night/from life until death takes me..." over a light, chugging, clean guitar... nice change.
All that peace is washed away in a second of the blistering pace of 'Time Will Not Remain'. Being the band that they are, they couldn't possibly end with a shmoltzy loved up track... at least, not anymore. "These are the days, our lives will change and time will not remain" is wondrous songwriting on a grand scale thanks to all musicians doing their part albeit for only 3 minutes. Its a good way to go out with bang, fast and hard. Proper sexual. In total honesty, this album took time to grow on me, perhaps due to unrealistic expectations, as if one man could make another AOJB version 2, which just isn't on the cards, nor should be. However, when compared to the bands last album, this is a new lease of life... or old... whatever, It's good.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 The Hell In Me
2 Beyond The Flames
3 The New Awakening
4 In Due Time
5 A Tribute To The Fallen
6 Turning Point
7 All We Have
8 You Don't Bleed For Me
9 The Call
10 No End In Sight
12 Time Will Not Remain
13 Blood Stains
14 Slave To The Machine
15 Numbered Days (Live 2012)
16 My Curse (Live 2012)
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Slave To The Machine (Frag. 1 - Rough Mix)
2 The Arms Of Sorrow (Frag. 1 - Live Jam)
3 The Arms Of Sorrow (Frag. 2 - Live Jam)
4 Rose Of Sharyn (Frag. 1 - Live Jam)
5 You Don't Bleed For Me (Frag. 1 - Tracking)
6 In Due Time (Frag. 1 - Tracking)
7 In Due Time (Frag. 2 - Tracking)
8 Slave To The Machine (Frag. 2 - Tracking)
9 Rose Of Sharyn (Frag. 2 - Live Jam)
10 Fixation On The Darkness (Frag. 1 - Live Jam)
11 A Bid Farewell (Frag. 1 - Live Jam)
12 The End Of Heartache (Frag. 1 - Live Jam)