June 30, 2009 - Roadrunner
The fact that Killswitch Engage self-titled their fifth album provides a clue to the sounds contained within. Killswitch Engage is a concise encapsulation of everything KSE do well, with no real filler and an obvious single in "Take Me Away." It's a meat-and-potatoes guitar-bass-drums record; some tastefully melancholy piano on the album-closing "This Is Goodbye" is one of few instrumental adornments. No special guests, no cover songs, no guitar solos; Killswitch are playing to their strengths, from guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz's masterful production assistance to Howard Jones' vague-yet-meaningful lyrics. The melodies are uniformly strong, even if one or two of the choruses seem a little tacked-on. "Save Me" is the worst offender in this regard, with a chorus so underpowered it threatens to derail the song.
But there are also some pleasant surprises. The rhythm section gets a well-deserved spotlight on "Starting Over"; and "Light In A Darkened World" demands social engagement from the listener, a counterweight to the emotional navel-gazing of the majority of the songs. This album isn't going to change the way you think about metal, but Killswitch Engage aren't Mastodon; they just want to get the pit going, and this album will surely accomplish that.