Review: Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage
“Alive Or Just Breathing”
(Roadrunner Records)

Bark and smack hardcore with the metal rip.  Crunch them riffs apart.  Stop it.  Start it and break it down.  Make it hurt and be heard.  Harsh barking vocals greased with ample slips into a cleaner, thicker howl.  Gives the lyrics so much more personality.  This allows the words to be broken into the distinct sections and movements the music is striving for.  Calculated with math-rock precision on some of the breakdowns.  Touches of sway and melody that is always crushed back down by some riff charged guitars.  ‘Just Barely Breathing’ gets a mention, as it’s the sleeper hit of the album.  Starts off all brooding, dark and mellow.  Then it builds into a louder, dark and brooding take on the same vibe.  But then it kind of pulls apart with a build up, jacks the tempo, pulls it back just a bit for a single guitar riff, and then it wipes it all apart with a wicked double bass attack backed by a tight as hell thrashy riff.   ‘Self Revolution’ has such a smooth layering of the vocal croon, it’s almost Deftones in thickness.  Jesse Leach really does have an amazing voice when he’s not tearing it apart.  Most singers that just growl and spit, do so because that’s all they can do.  Leach uses that abrasive hit with the words as a dynamic, not a limitation.  It gets really big and almost, ah, radio sounding when they want to bring those choruses together.  But it’s stapled into this hard, metallic, riff machine with Leach screaming at your kids, and that’s what puts the original spin on this band.  And will probably keep them sufficiently off the radar of the video/radio machine.  Killswitch Engage showing some of the best of what the new school of metallic hardcore can produce.