By Jonathan Smith
Killswitch Engage’s latest and self-titled album showcases in many ways what has come to be expected from the band. The formula hasn’t changed much — straight and to-the-point metalcore with lots of clean lead guitars and bursts of drums. However, this time there’s more angst than usual in the lyrics, and definitely attempts at making the incredibly short songs sound suitably epic. By this time in the band’s history Howard Jones’s voice has become an integral part of the band, and here the clean and soaring vocals outweigh the expected snarls and growls. Songs like “Reckoning,” “Lost,” and “This Is Goodbye” highlight the less self-affirmative nature of this album, eschewing the usual “come together” and “defeat the personal demons” themes in favor of a more sustained wallowing in the turmoil of past mistakes and the need for self-redemption. It’s nothing that hasn’t been heard from the band before, and the songs simply don’t have the staying power when compared to similar-sounding stuff on past albums. Killswitch Engage have long managed to create music that appeals to a fairly wide audience, and this latest effort seems a step toward maintaining that appeal without shaking things up too much. The sound on Killswitch Engage is more accessible than ever and has a definite light “summer metal music” appeal if one is looking for it, but those seeking more depth may want to approach with caution.