Music

Killswitch Engage: Disarm the Descent

Disarm the Descent is the bountiful fruit of the Killswitch's rejuvenation, and proof that, in life and metal, there are second chances.


Killswitch Engage

Disarm the Descent

Label: Roadrunner
US Release Date: 2013-04-02
UK Release Date: 2013-04-01
Amazon
iTunes

"All that we suffer through leads to determination / The trials we all go through gives us the strength to carry on," sings vocalist Jesse Leach on the resolute "In Due Time" off Killswitch Engage's sixth and latest studio release, Disarm the Descent. You see, Jesse Leach has another shot with the Massachusetts metalcore pioneers and this time he is determined to see things through. After the release of 2002's metal game-changer Alive or Just Breathing, Leach quit the band because of personal problems leaving Killswitch Engage on the cusp of greatness without a singer. Thankfully for the band, Blood Has Been Shed frontman Howard Jones filled the void. With Jones slipping seamlessly into the ranks and being accepted as vocalist by the band's ever-growing fanbase, Killswitch Engage released their most successful record, 2004's The End of Heartache, while Leach returned to relative anonymity.

2006's As Daylight Dies and 2009's self titled effort followed for Killswitch; the former retained the magic mix of huge vocal hooks and melodic yet aggressive metal that the band made their signature sound, the latter lacked the spark of the past with Jones's tired performance and the band's lacklustre song-writing waving a red flag as to the health of this, at one time, trailblazing troupe. During this period, Leach worked regular jobs, sang in stoner rock band Seemless and the hardcore band the Empire Shall Fall and began to feel the fire burn inside him again. Friendships were mended and past mistakes forgiven and Leach, alongside Killswitch guitarist/producer Adam Ductkiewicz, formed Times of Grace and released The Hymn of a Broken Man in 2011 – a precursor to his return as Killswitch vocalist when Jones finally stepped down.

This takes us back to the lyrics above, passionately delivered by the returning vocalist on Disarm the Descent's first single "In Due Time". It is one of many calls for positivity amidst struggle found within this record, not to mention within this "Life to Lifeless"-rivalling anthem alone. This is typical lyrically of the band's hardcore roots and such a stance fires up the music on this record to the extent that Killswitch, as clichéd as it sounds, are a band reborn. In many ways, this should have been named as the band's self titled release, as Killswitch are firing on all cylinders (more warranted clichés); cylinders that have not been fully functional since 2004.

There is a desperate energy to Leach's performance, heightened by the hunger and urgency driving the music of Disarm the Descent. This hunger is apparent from the opening blast-beats and barbarous roars of "The Hell in Me"; a song whereby Killswitch teach those who followed in their wake how to balance belligerence and grace without coming across as hackneyed.

The scorching "Beyond the Flames" and the unrelenting music and lyrical message backing "New Awakening" and "All That We Have" show that the crunch of American hardcore with the incisiveness of European melodic death metal in the year 2013 is not an exhausted combination, once the band's focus on precise song-writing remains steadfast. That's why, in order to succeed playing the style of metal that Killswitch perfected, song-writing chops and hooks are paramount, and Disarm the Descent is trimmed of any possible excess. It's a frantic record that, except for the heartfelt quasi-ballad "Always", doesn't give you much time to breathe.

There is also something about hearing Leach scream and sing with every fibre of his being over Killswitch's powerful metalcore that just feels right. His stentorian screams and soaring choruses find their way through the surprisingly fast paced riffs of Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel and battering tempo changes that drummer Justin Foley and bassist Mike D'Antonio dictate with poise and power to resonate on highlights "The Call", "You Don't Bleed for Me" and "No End in Sight". Where in the past his departure could have crippled Killswitch, Leach, in a strange twist of fate, has returned as the band's savior. Disarm the Descent is the bountiful fruit of the Killswitch's rejuvenation, and proof that, in life and metal, there are second chances.

8


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.