Massachusetts metalcore legends, Killswitch Engage, are back with another solid release, Incarnate (Roadrunner). This is the second album released since Howard Jones left the group and original singer, Jesse Leach, stepped back into his vocal duties. While I will avoid the Jones vs. Leach debate, I will say that this work may be the most mature work from Leach-fronted Killswitch. The Westfield, MA natives continue to tinker with their sound to make the heavy, heavier and the melodic, more emotional and memorable, but do not stray too far away from what they know works. In no way would I call this an experimental album, but neither is it a safe one.
Incarnate is one of those albums that gets stronger the farther down you go. While some of the opening tracks are good songs, the second half of the album avoids the “more of the same” sentiments that I am sure many metalcore deserters would use. ‘Embrace the Journey…Upraised’ kicks off the second half of the album which showcases the Killswitch sound the best. Thunderous verse riffs with harsh vocals that lead into a hardcore pre-chorus followed by an uplifting, memorable chorus. The bridge/breakdown builds off of the pre-chorus parts to bring the track together. ‘It Falls on Me’ is one of the tracks that broke the mold a bit and borrowed some post-metal influences (The Ocean certainly came to mind, specifically the Pelagial album). The bridge of the track brings some of the ever emotional, yet catchy tremolo guitar work with a nice delay effect to create a spacey feel. The outro of the song reminds the listening that this is Killswitch Engage with a breakdown and harsh vocals to complete a very Jekyll and Hyde track. ‘We Carry On’ might be the best track written by the band since The End of Heartache era. This track brings together all of the elements present on Incarnate and then blend them together into one epic ballad. Heavy guitar riffs, catchy melodies, uplifting lyrics with both harsh and clean vocals, plus a little more of the spacey guitar effects seen on ‘It Falls on Me’ are all eloquently mixed. The closer, ‘Ascension’, is a return to the norm and wraps up the record perfectly. This is certainly the most “hardcore” track on the album and leaves the listener with Jesse Leach shouting “This is fair warning…your time… will… come!”
With so much music coming out the past couple of years, and mostly on the extreme side, it is always nice to return to the middle of the spectrum. Killswitch Engage once again has pulled me back to my youth with this release. My hometown heroes came through and then some on Incarnate.
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