Published Aug 15, 2019With a roar and a melody, Killswitch Engage return with Atonement. Pre-release singles "Unleashed" and "I Am Broken Too" follow their usual formula of guitar and vocal-driven metalcore, but Killswitch Engage are proof that broke things don't need fixing.
There's a certain curse that comes with being a genre originator. What was once unprecedented and fresh can get buried under an avalanche of sound-alikes until we forget what made it great in the first place. Killswitch Engage have sidestepped this "trend trap" in the best way possible: consistently releasing material so killer that nobody could ever doubt them.
"Ravenous" and "The Crownless King" are some of the best tracks they've ever put out. "Crownless" in particular, with some help from Testament frontman Chuck Billy, shows off their ability to mix crushing hardcore with soaring guitar fretwork. Jesse Leach sounds better than he has in almost 20 years; he even tries his hand at Disturbed-y arena rock on "Take Control," with mixed results.
The showstopper is "The Signal Fire," featuring a duet between Leach and former frontman Howard Jones. Very few bands could pull off having a former singer return for one song — Killswitch turn it into an album highlight. Supposedly inspired by the "Beacons of Gondor" scene from Lord of the Rings, it's a fitting tribute to their own legacy.
There is a real generational divide in metal. Boomers laid the groundwork, while Gen X claims the chart-smashers of '80s and early '90s. When it comes time for millennials to look back, Killswitch Engage cannot be left out. They've singlehandedly inspired a generation of bands and have now moved on to classic territory. Atonement is a monster record in an almost untouchable career. (Metal Blade)