Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage [2009]

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Westfield, MA-based metalcore kings Killswitch Engage's fifth full-length album (and second eponymous release) was co-produced by Brendan O'Brien (Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Mastodon), resulting in the group's most commercially viable collection of progressive/thrash/emo-metal to date. Where 2006's As Daylight Dies hinted at an accelerated focus on the more melodic aspects of extreme metal, Killswitch Engage cements the notion. After a typically brutal opener that epitomizes the band's penchant for scorching thrash-heavy verses and sweeping, melodious choruses, the quintet spits out the radio-ready "Starting Over." Flanked by dual guitar leads that echo classic Iron Maiden and shot through with a truly great vocal take from lead singer Howard Jones (who sounds remarkably like a classically trained Trent Reznor throughout the album), it's one of the album's finest, though ultimately divisive moments. It sets a significantly different template for the remainder of the record, trading tight machine-gun riffs ("Save Me," "A Light in a Darkened World") for angst-fueled midtempo dirges ("Lost," "This Is Goodbye") that might disappoint fans who feel that the punk-infused slow-burn post-hardcore albums like Alive or Just Breathing and End of Heartache are the barometers for which all future endeavors must be compared.

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