As Daylight Dies
posted on 3/2007 By:
Ah, Killswitch Engage. I know the sight of this band’s logo on a site such as this will probably set many of my dear readers’ blood to boiling. What I don’t understand is why. Obviously many metalheads won’t be able to stomach this band for strictly aesthetic reasons, but that doesn’t explain why KsE and their New Wave of American Whatevermetal brethren (Shadows Fall, Lamb of God, etc.) elicit such vitriol from the underground metal population in general.
From what I can tell, there are two reasons commonly given for all the Haterade-sipping. Some metalheads feel that KsE is some sort of unforgivable metal blaspheme because of their combination of breakdowns and clean vocal hooks with Euro-flavored thrash guitar work. Others take this a step further: because KsE (and their hordes of admittedly-irritating copycats) isn’t a representative of “real metal,” they misrepresent metal to the world at large and thus offend metal’s holy honor or some such. Personally both reasons strike me as total bunk. Firstly, it was always my impression that metal was all about blasphemy; what drew me to this genre was its willingness to disregard rules, push boundaries and evolve organically. Emplacing regulations about what metal should and shouldn’t be stands in direct contradiction to what makes it so awesome in the first place (besides, breakdowns and clean vocals were both part of metal long before this latest wave of crossover). Secondly, bands like Killswitch Engage are, quite frankly, fucking necessary for underground metal to grow and flourish. If you don’t enjoy their music, so be it, but I can’t see how people can deny their value to the metal community. The metalcore explosion may have spawned a new generation of awkward teenage pit ninjas, but invariably a percentage of those will move on to heavier pastures, and the massive growth of underground metal over the past five years certainly bears witness to this fact. You fuckers who bemoan this band’s existence at every opportunity should learn to recognize a useful thing when you see one.
Anyway, off the soapbox and into the album. As Daylight Dies is KsE’s fourth full length. Many of you have already heard and formed opinions about this album, but those of you haven’t might not be too far behind. In fact, anyone who bore witness to the stylistic transformation that took hold of this band between Alive Or Just Breathing and The End of Heartache will have an easily-fleshed-out idea of where the band chose to go here. KsE’s second album with Blood Has Been Shed alums Howard Jones and Justin Foley is much like the first; it too oozes with professional production values and impressive melody-craft. Though it won’t win any points back with the underground ‘bangers, this is as good an example of Killswitch Engage’s newfound anthemic sound as its predecessor.
Regardless of your opinion of this band’s chosen style, it’s hard to deny that they’re a massively talented group of musicians. Howard Jones still has probably the strongest voice in all of metalcore, and his full range of clean and screamed tones is decked out in various emphatic effects and on display. Adam Dutkiewicz does a bang up job both behind the boards (his production is predictably slick but still impressively booming) and with axe in hand, as he and Joel Stroetzel sling an arsenal of technical melo-thrash riffs. As far as the songwriting goes, it too is much like that of The End of Heartache; though there are fewer beefy grooves being tossed around and a little more speed, the songs are still reliably infectious verse/chorus riff fests. In short, they achieve all the same successes they managed last time.
Unfortunately, they make many of the same mistakes too. Drummer Justin Foley is again perhaps the most underused skinsman in all of metal music, and those who remember his stunning performances from the Blood Has Been Shed days will be disappointed to find him still trapped in plodding, rudimentary double bass beats. Again, too, the band’s songwriting is effective in small doses but a little too monotonous for lengthy listening. Though Jones and the trilling guitars can summon up the melodramatic eyes-to-the-sky atmosphere required to make this kind of shit enjoyable for three or four songs at a time, the formula of thrashy melodic riff/screamed verse/sung chorus/breakdown becomes dull and ineffective shortly thereafter. The fancy Dutkiewicz production also seems to put the lie to Jones’ attempts at heartfelt spontaneity, and his weepy dear-diary lyrics start to wear thin under too much attention. Finally, though I’m actually a fan of a good breakdowns, some of the chugga parts on this album are just straight up fucking lazy (“Eye of the Storm,” for example).
Whether Killswitch Engage is a bunch of wily, talented scene vets looking to cash in on a trend or a sincere but somewhat derivative artistic outlet, the band has effectively mastered their style of openly poppy modern metal. Regardless of your feelings on said style, they are and will probably continue to be a powerful player in the hard rock/heavy metal game. Whether you choose to accept this for its indirect aid to your cause or damn it for its violation of your sensibilities is up to you.
Register to post comments.
Alive Or Just Breathing - Reissued (2 Discs)
11/1/2005 Killswitch Engage
The End of Heartache