Released: 2006, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Fans of Killswitch Engage seem to get grief from all sides. The metal fans get flack for liking them because of the emo lyrics and the emo fans get flack for liking them because of the heavy guitars. In the middle is the hardcore contingent and…well, they deserve anything they get! Just kidding. To make a long story short, being a Killswitch Engage fan is not easy but as an avid follower of the band since their genre-defining 2002 album ALIVE OR JUST BREATHING, they have consistently delivered well-played, well-written and completely enjoyable music over the course of three straight albums. Through no fault of their own, Killswitch’s sound has been watered down somewhat by countless other bands mimicking Howard Jones’ harsh/clean vocal dynamic and the glorious leads and riffs of Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel. Despite this, the band is still at the head of the pack and building upon their already defined sound to deliver their heaviest, most melodic and best album yet on their new offering, AS DAYLIGHT DIES. Each and every song here is bursting with attention-grabbing hooks, blazing guitar runs, a beefy rhythm section and rich vocal melodies that are an irresistible package. Killswitch does not profess to write “thinking man’s” metal; their approach is simple and the songs are easily digested and wholly enjoyable. Fault them if you will but AS DAYLIGHT DIES continues a long string of albums from Killswitch Engage that you will find yourself reaching for again and again.
The opening salvo of the title track is slow-building and never goes above a mid-tempo chug but Jones’ politically-inclined lyrics and the catchy chorus propels things along nicely. “This Is Absolution” is ripe for a single with sharp riffs and the vocal dynamic works wonders, with Dutkiewicz adding some screams and roars, too. “The Arms of Sorrow” is a perfect example of what Killswitch Engage brings to an over-crowded genre and that is interesting tempo changes and impressively-played arpeggios. Dutkiewicz and Stroetzel sizzle here and even Jones gives one of his best vocal performances on the album. When the band speeds up on “Unbroken,” “My Curse” and “Reject Yourself,” the results are just as satisfying. Mosh-friendly passages and the hard-hitting rhythm section of bassist Mike D’Antonio and drummer Justin Foley combine with Jones’ vicious screams and rumbling growls to form a battle-ready arsenal of hooks, beats and melodies that is irresistible. Some skronky, technical riffing on “For You” and speedy guitar runs on “Still Beats Your Name” offset the clean, emotive crooning of Jones and is sure to elicit a love/hate response for many as will the slow chug and breakdown of “Eye of The Storm.” What will surprise many, though, is the dark, progressive sound of “Desperate Times.” Dense, heavy layering of the guitars and the overall sound of the riffs are reminiscent of Devin Townsend’s TERRIA, which could not be further away from Killswitch Engage’s typical fare.
AS DAYLIGHT DIES is Killswitch Engage’s best album without question. Not content to rest on their laurels, the band tries out many new things without straying too far from their sound and succeeds by all accounts. Every track here is a winner and without forsaking any heaviness, the material is injected with melodic breaks, catchy choruses and plenty of memorable moments. The bar has been raised, though, and it will be tough to top AS DAYLIGHT DIES but if anyone can do it, the smart money is on Killswitch Engage.
KILLER KUTS: “Daylight Dies,” “This Is Absolution,” “The Arms of Sorrow,” “Unbroken,” “My Curse,” “For You,” “Still Beats Your Name,” “Eye of The Storm,” “Reject Yourself”