Killswitch Engage - As Daylight Dies Special Edition Review
Original Author: Goliath
Artist: Killswitch Engage
Album: As Daylight Dies Special Edition
1. Daylight Dies
2. This Is Absolution
3. The Arms Of Sorrow
5. My Curse
6. For You
7. Still Beats Your Name
8. Eye Of the Storm
9. Break the Silence
10. Desperate Times
11. Reject Yourself
12. Be One
13. Let the Bridges Burn
14. This Fire
15. Holy Diver
Killswitch Engage is one of the more commercially successful metal bands, playing music that most often fits into the "metalcore" sub genre, characterized by chugging riffs with a mixture of melodic as well as some screams, sometimes the screams get close to being black metalish, sometimes death metalish. That all said, I do not understand their popularity, perhaps because I'm coming from the perspective of more of a metalhead than your main stream hard rocker. To be quite honest with you, without the enhanced version of this CD with the bonus tracks 12-15, the CD would have been a complete waste of money, but luckily I purchased it for 12$ off of iTunes rather than $17 at the store, so at least I have that extra 6 pack of beer going for me in savings, which is nice I guess.
The vocals are either harsh screams hitting lows like the grunts typically associated with death metal, and sometimes he can hit the shrill highs of black metal. This screaming is mixed intermittently with more melodic singing seriously more akin with a Wayne Brady. Regardless, Howard Jones is one of the bands stronger points, he's certainly a competent front man who really keeps a sense of contrast and almost conflict as he goes between his three styles of screams (for the record, I can't even come close to his shrill scream, I can hit the grunts and even the melodic singing parts, but how he has that kind of range, I'll never know) . He certainly creates an interesting dynamic with his style, but the overdubs of him singing over a drawn out scream makes me wonder just how much would be lost in translation at a live show.
Ok, maybe it's just me, and maybe I'm just old fashioned, but love songs have no place for this subgenre unless it's like "My Curse", which is about the feeling of unrequited love and loss when a loved one walks out on you. The argument could be that it's about a girl or a father figure deserting them. Then that song is followed up with "For You", which is about a guy pledging his love for a girl and them both agreeing to overlook their respective pasts and this love is forever. Now, this is really a shame the lyrics are so sappy, because otherwise the song would have been one of the better songs on the album. That track is then followed up with "Still Beats Your Name", I'm beginning to wonder if HoJo or whoever writes their lyrics went through a breakup when they sat down to write this album. This is possibly the weakest point of the album which is sad considering there is only 11 songs on the album proper, then 5 bonus songs.
Could have been me and my disdain for metalcore, but to me it seemed like the arrangements were horribly formulaic. A light melody to open the song, kicking it into gear with the main theme/crunch (insert chugs and gallops here) for the verse, really heavy bridge with lots of screams, which segues nicely into the more melodic chorus. I mean, I guess I can see what they're doing with all the contrast and the building tension then relieving it, but it's almost like listening to Linkin Park/Staind/Puddle of Mudd/Nickelback where I feel duped because they're repackaging the same song over and over again (yeah, and that's coming from the guy who adores DragonForce, go figure). None of the passages are overly technical, and usually the combo is riffing on one guitar then playing a melody fill over that, which works for bands like Iron Maiden, but Maiden seems to pack more of a punch since both guitars are in standard tuning with an operatic Bruce Dickinson leading the charge. Conversely, KsE tunes their guitars down to Drop D tuned down a whole step in pretty much a majority of their stuff, it sounded like, which means the vocalist soared above the guitars the whole time rather than fleshing out the possible trio. I suppose it's not fair to compare the guitar corps of KsE to Maiden, but a more fair comparison would be Shadows Fall's newer material, and SF certainly boasts more technical parts and complex melodies, but SF doesn't share KsE's limited mainstream success either.
The drumming is a touchy subject considering it is highly subjective, but it seems to me that metalcore only really works when it's a more rapid tempo and this CD seems slowed down somewhat from their "The End of Heartache" CD. There was nothing really about the drums that stood out, good or bad, they're just kind of there.
I don't like Killswitch Engage, I have 2 of their CD's, The End of Heartache (gift from a friend), and recently I purchased ADDSE with an iTunes gift card I got for xmas since a friend I play guitar with likes to play "My Curse" is pretty fun to play just because it's so gratifying to hit the pinch during the downstroke crunch part. So I humor him, he really likes metalcore and is my last buddy that will go to metal shows with me so I have to placate him somewhat. That said, I don't think this CD is all that hot, not because I don't like metalcore, but it seemed to me that there were a couple good tracks and a lot of lackluster ones, which is typical for really mainstream bands, but usually metal CDs are either good albums or bad albums, not just songs. The bonus songs are pretty good, actually, and the cover of "Holy Diver" is fantastic (and the video is hilarious, check YouTube). All in all, a pretty lackluster album.