Assuming there was a legitimate rock and roll hall of fame that meant something, there would be many inductees that wouldn’t even need introducing; Amongst your thrash metal behemoths and your stadium sell-outs would quietly sit KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. The effect felt on the metalcore genre when KILLSWITCH were at their peak was unprecedented, as they simply rocketed to the top and have stayed there ever since. Boasting an incredibly high standard that has been refined over their previous five releases, but all eyes are now on Incarnate and how it fits within the already stellar back catalogue.
The stakes are certainly higher for this album. With it being the second album for returning vocalist Jessie Leach and the successful yet underwhelming performance on previous effort Disarm The Descent can be put down to being a transitional period for the band as they got used to working with Jesse again. With everything that has happened since reforming, all the tours and both albums has culminated in an absolute powerhouse performance as he delivers it all with spades of passion and emotion. It’s very fair to say that this record is to Jessie what End of Heartache is to Howard Jones. The opening track Alone I Stand sets the pace perfectly, with the build up gaining more layers as it goes on before simply dropping into the marching drumbeat and chugging guitars. The album really starts to flex its muscles on the stellar Hate By Design, which is simply the perfect example of how to expertly craft metalcore song done by the masters themselves. The chorus is catchy and epic and when it wants to it chews your arm off.
It’s not just the vocals that stand out, the guitars have been toned perfectly, giving a real old school hardcore vibe when the thick sound erupts from the chugged riffs. Embrace The Journey features a nasty, slow riff that takes no prisoners and shows a real shift in sound to accommodate for Jesse’s vocal style, which wasn’t really nailed as it is here on Disarm The Descent. There are far more adventurous passages on display here as well, as Quiet Distress whips from break neck thrashing to the massive crooning chorus and The Great Deceit certainly has more than a few things in common with the more extreme side of the music spectrum. It’s a real joy to listen to KILLSWITCH ENGAGE spread their creative wings with the knowledge and confidence to pull it off so well, it simply injects so much new vigour into their sound.
Incarnate may not have had anything to prove, but it sounds like it does. It affirms Jessie Leach’s vocal talent as well as modifying the base sound better to suit the stellar vocal delivery, allowing for each song to soar as it was meant to. Couple this with the thick toned riffs, frighteningly good fretwork and an incredibly high standard of playing across the board from the whole band. With Incarnate, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE have been able to recapture the lightening they had when they wrote End Of Heartache but have altered and modified the core sound so subtly that it sounds like an entirely new, re-invigorated band.
Incarnate is out now via Roadrunner Records.