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Killswitch EngageAtonement

Sony Music Australia
16th August, 2019
Welcome Back, Jesse

I don’t know what it is with all these ‘core bands these days, but they’ve been bitten by a European bug and turned into full blown Unsmashed Pumpkins (Helloween).

MORE: CARNIFEX: Visceral Dystopia REVIEWS: FREEDOM OF FEAR: Nocturnal Gates // THY ART IS MURDER: Human Target // CARNIFEX: World War X // SLIPKNOT: We Are Not Your Kind

Ok, I’m exaggerating. Even so, the baguette and bratwurst has bloomed in their DNA and there’s no stopping it. This album shows Jesse Leach and his at times soulful, at times fire-breathing voice has well and truly healed; it’s a true delight for fans of his impassioned, Khan Noonien Singh-like delivery.

Unleashed is a mid-paced riff smorgasbord, lifting off with leads that soar like majestic eagles flying on the wings of dreams. I told you—the European flavour is strong and garlicky in this one. The Signal Fire turns up the heat with barnstorming double-kicks and whip-fast riffery. Instantly singable, the perfect song for throwing yourself in the pit to. Chops are dialled up to 11 as a thoroughly Euro Us Against The World embodies a “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” approach; likewise I Am Broken Too. Hearing Leach loose his wrists and bleed might be mistaken for post-grunge radio-rock fodder, though his heartbroken yet triumphant message stomps on any such cynical notions. If only every singer was this sincere …

Keeping a listener’s attention through a slew of mid-pacers is no easy feat, but Killswitch more than pull it off.

We’re back in America on As Sure As The Sun Will Rise, running ham through thrash verses and power metal choruses that wouldn’t feel too out of place on the main stage of a Download or Wacken Open Air. Know Your Enemy is one of a handful of tracks with unsung choruses, giving Dutkiewicz and Stroetzel a chance to duke it out in guitar-lead combat (See also: Bite The Hand That Feeds). Take Control is a reprise of themes explored in I Am Broken Too, anthemic Dio-isms running rampant throughout. I Can’t Be The Only One is ye olde Killswitch; a soft/loud/soft chug and theatrical vox to inspire many a clutched invisible orange.

Pushing 20 years in the biz now, they’ve survived singer changes, trend redirects, and the Spotify Crisis better than most metal or ‘core bands could ever hope for. Keeping a listener’s attention through a slew of mid-pacers is no easy feat, but Killswitch more than pull it off. A re-invasion of Europe is a welcome development, as is Jesse Leach’s effortlessness behind the mic. Fans have already bought their tickets to this ride. Could this album inspire the Killswitch-curious to jump on board with them? I think there’s more than a fair chance.

STANDOUT TRACKS: I Am Broken Too, The Signal Fire, Us Against The World
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Parkway Drive, All That Remains, Trivium

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