March 22, 2016 Killswitch Engage – Incarnate (Album review)
Born out of the New England Metalcore scene, Killswitch Engage has become one of Heavy Metal’s elite since their self-titled debut in 2000. Going on to release the game-changing Alive or Just Breathing in 2002, the band would follow-up another Metal masterpiece in 2004 with The End of Heartache with Howard Jones taking over for a departing Jesse Leach on vocals. Jones would remain a fixture in Killswitch Engage for almost a decade as the voice and lyrics behind their music as they stood dominate with one chart-topping record after another. Then, in January of 2012, a surprise announcement hit fans when the band announced the departure of Jones, thus leaving a gap on vocals. While there was a brief search for a new singer, it seemed to many an obvious resolution to re-enlist Leach once more, and dreams came true just a month after bidding Jones farewell.
Now four years since, Leach has re-established himself as the energetic and intense frontman of Killswitch Engage, they released the killer album Disarm the Descent in 2013 and toured relentlessly to overwhelming positive responses. Eager for new music, Killswitch Engage now present their fans with brand new material in the form of their seventh overall studio album, Incarnate. Leach’s second since returning, and fourth overall with the band, Incarnate hit stores on March 11th via long-time label Roadrunner Records.
Beginning intensely, “Alone I Stand” is filled with shouted vocals of Leach along with shredding guitar work of Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel. Featuring a chorus which is slower tempo with clean singing, it is a strong way to launch into this new record. Continuing with “Hate By Design,” it is a catchy song with quite impressive drum work from Justin Foley along with a signature guitar tone which the band has done so well developing. A much lower piece, “Cut Me Loose” comes on with catchy rhythm in the chorus and a growled ending that will raise the pulse of every Metal fan.
Keeping the energy level high, “Strength Of The Mind” comes on with Leach shouting in the opening before settling down for a chorus with clean singing that is easy to memorize and sing along to. Then, with more strong melodies and singing by Leach, “Just Let Go” comes in with grand sound that will keep the mind of listeners wandering. While the melodic nature of Incarnate is bold, the heaviness also reigns supreme, and that is evident on “Embrace The Journey…Upraised” with more thrashing guitar work from Dutkiewicz and Stroetzel, pounding drums of Foley, and thick bass of Mike D’Antonio. It is an assault that will warm the hearts of Metal listeners with a melodic bridge that will dig deep underneath their skin.
Initially aggressive, “Quiet Distress” features a passionate chorus and words that go deep as Leach raises the stakes with even, clean vocals worth paying close attention to. This could also be said about “Until The Day I Die,” but in contrast, the song is defined by a rough, shouted chorus. It is an anthem for the masses and could easily be imagined seeing many screaming along at a live show as great guitar riffs carry the emotion and strength of the moving track. Making sure the album remains interesting, “It Falls On Me” is a balance of a harsh opening before a soft bridge and lightened chorus. It is a beautiful song that goes straight for the heart of listeners with lyrics such as, “Where’s the peace that you promised me?”
Reaching for the sky, “The Great Deceit” is yet another heavy and speedy song that celebrates the sound of Killswitch Engage. With double bass and guitars that will have any mosh pit moving, it is easily one of the best tracks off Incarnate. Brought to life by Leach’s voice, the words are equally as striking as the music with lyrics such as, “Violence increased, no justice and no peace in the great deceit. The discontent silenced or put to death in the great deceit. It’s mental slavery.” Then, with heavy hearts, “We Carry On” brings on deep thoughts that will no doubt find many listeners reflecting on life, loss, and everything in between. It is a deep song with wide melodies and an atmospheric sound brought on by the distant guitars that could even make the cut be considered a ballad of Incarnate. The album then concludes with “Ascension” with a raw, pummeling of growls, shouting, and singing by Leach that wraps up what could be one of the band’s strongest albums in years.
In enough words, Incarnate is an energetic album. The arrangements, especially the guitar riffs, carry the defining Killswitch Engage style that has remained for over fifteen years. In addition, it could be one of Leach’s most powerful vocal performances to date as he moves between harsh and clean vocals with ease. All in all, the album is a well-rounded offering that will have Killswitch Engage fans applauding. CrypticRock gives Incarnate 4.5 out of 5 stars.