Killswitch Engage

Atonement

Written by: KW on 31/10/2019 20:18:08

Killswitch Engage are back at it again. I can’t say I was all that excited for yet another metalcore venture from the band, since I haven’t really been that much of a fan since 2006’s fiery release, and a personal favourite of mine, ”As Daylight Dies”. The following releases just felt recycled without the same spark behind it that made me fall in love in the first place. But perhaps this newest release “Atonement” could be that one album to reignite my engagement with the band?

Unfortunately, “Atonement” seems to fall in the same trap like before, by churning out easily digestible metalcore singalong songs without much in the way of deeper substance or innovation. “Unleashed” is a perfect example of the indifference I initially feel when I tune into the record. The production sounds exactly like the band has done for well over a decade now, meaning that it sounds good but also relatively uncreative, somewhat flat and without much personality. The song structures are the same, the guitar work lacks those cool licks to keep the predictable power chords from getting stale and the added “radio effect” in the bridge seems like it’s taken straight out of the mid 2000s (and not in a good way). I will admit that Jesse Leach’s vocals sound great but the earworm melodies needed to support his powerful voice isn’t anywhere to be found. “Us Against the World” sounds soaring with its waltz-y feel but went in one ear and out the other as soon as it ended. “I Am Broken Too” stands as the poppiest outing found here, sounding like some old-school heavy metal ballad, which on paper should turn me off completely, but surprisingly it somewhat works for me. It’s short, sweet and to the point, though the straightforward emo lyrics might turn some people off.

However, it isn’t all bad. “The Signal Fire” is an absolute powerhouse, turning the tempo all the way up with some fantastic growls and screams to set it all off, with former vocalist extraordinair Howard Jones joining the fray to create some tangible chemistry between the two, who compliment each other nicely. It ends up being one of the most satisfying Killswitch Engage I’ve heard in a long time and a clear highlight of the record. “The Crownless King” keeps things thrashy, elevated by some absolutely brutal vocals from Testament’s own Chuck Billy in what could almost be called a crossover thrash song. I start to see a pattern of the heaviest songs on the album being by far the best, which “Ravenous” supports as well with a highly effective tempo change in the breakdown transition with some truly savage chucks which should keep the necks banging in a live setting. “As Sure as the Sun Will Rise” harkens back to the peak Killswitch days in way of marrying brutality and cheesy melodic work very nicely (blast beats help bring a smile to my face too). Album closer “Bite the Hand That Feeds” sees the band actually creating something quite unique sounding by their standard by mixing offbeat chugs with death-thrash drums while the tremolo picked guitars in the background gives off some melodic black metal vibes. Had the album had more creative juices like this, I probably would’ve given it way more leeway, but at least the album ends on a much higher note than it starts.

“Atonement” isn’t offensively bad, nor particularly great and when push comes to shove pretty forgettable. That doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable to some extent but part of me feels like the genre has moved on to bigger and better things long since the highpoint of their career, while they themselves still seem stuck in the past, doomed to release the same album over and over again ad infinitum. Taking into account how packed this year has been with phenomenal releases in the metal sphere, I’ll hardly be revisiting this one again, but hardcore Killswitch Engage fans are sure to get a satisfying metalcore fix with “Atonement”. It’s fine and completely tolerable but not much more than that unfortunately.

6

Download: The Signal Fire, The Crownless King, As Sure as the Sun Will Rise, Bite the Hand That Feeds
For the fans of: Parkway Drive, As I Lay Dying, All That Remains
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.08.2019
Metal Blade Records

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