Reading fan boards can often be insightful, confusing or unpredictable (sometimes, all three).
When it comes to Massachusetts natives Killswitch Engage, reading up on the recent fan-speak is a chore. “Jesse is back!!” / “AOJB2!!” / “Fuck this! Where is Howard?!” / “This doesn’t sound like normal Jesse-KsE!”
Personally, I have always been a fan of Killswitch, but have never crossed that borderline-obsessive role. Honestly, the two bands (Howard Jones vs. Jesse Leach), maintaining the same name through the years, both carry their own strengths/weaknesses/etc. While Howard fans will lay claim to his unprecedented vocal power, Jesse fans will stay true to the fact that he brings out the heavier side of Killswitch. This would suggest that Howard is more mainstream? Listening to Disarm the Descent‘s lead single “In Due Time,” I certainly beg to differ on this judgment.
Now all the “experts” out there will bring forth the analysis that this is not a true “Jesse” record – that most of the writing occurred with Howard still on board. Enough already! Let’s rate this as a Killswitch record and not a Jesse record. Fair?
After wasting nearly 200 words on this little confrontation, Disarm the Descent is Killswitch’s sixth full-length record. After three records fronted with former vocalist Howard Jones, Jesse Leach is back for his third album with the band. Obviously the critics (fans of each lead-man) have voiced their opinions on the inter-web, but honestly, Killswitch is Killswitch no matter how you look at it. From the onset of the 2013 release it is clear that the heavy starters hold true to that theme. “The Hell In Me” is an absolute crusher of an introduction to the new/old KsE. But it is clear that the melodic side of the band is still very much intact – in fact, they waste little time showcasing those similar abilities. Come the chorus of “The Hell In Me” they find themselves right back in that familiar wheelhouse.
Many will irritate over the fact that it resembles a Howard-led band, but honestly, going back to Alive or Just Breathing, it is clear that there are elements to each that stick with this new release. Also, the claim that Howard is a better singer is further challenged with the style of the album. Approaching the songs with the melodic attack, it shows just how strong and powerful Leach is as a vocalist – not just the heaviness he brings with his screams. Doubters can claim this to be false all they want, but my ears seem to hear things differently.
If I had to put my finger on it, the list of songs is a perfect combination of Alive or Just Breathing and The End of Heartache. “In Due Time” is basically “Rose Of Sharyn” fronted by Jesse Leach. Complaints? Not at all – just a note stemming from listening to each a few times, back and forth.
Overall, Disarm the Descent is quite solid. Is it the band’s best record? Not in my opinion, no. Is it an accomplishment and a sign of good things to come? I most certainly think so. However, I firmly believe that once the “Smoke of Howard” clears, not a whole lot will change. Perhaps that opinion will be extremely unpopular, but as I stated before – KsE is KsE, no matter how you approach it. Yes, each singer brings a different element, but I also believe that they can do what the other can as well. And for that reason, they’ll always be just fine.
For Those Who Like: Killswitch Engage‘s Alive or Just Breathing – Killswitch Engage‘s The End of Heartache – Pantera‘s Vulgar Display of Power