Episodes of personal turmoil, upheaval and tragedy always prove to be strong fuel for creativity, and that certainly seems to be the case for Killswitch Engage on their eighth album.
It is truly refreshing and heartening to see this level of depth and diversity from a band so far into their career. From songwriting to arrangements to Mike D’Antonio’s crushing bass moves, Atonement is a strong effort from the always reliable band, even as it swerves between straight-up generic and far heavier, less familiar moments. Opener ‘Unleashed’ is preparation for what Killswitch has in store this time as the band veer from fury to restraint and Jessie Leach unfurls his vocal chameleon against the twists and turns.
The Gothenburg-flavoured ‘The Signal Fire’ is given further impetus by an outstanding vocal arrangement featuring Leach duelling with his one-time replacement Howard Jones; further, Chuck Billy steps up to complement the thrash-meets-hardcore savagery of ‘The Crownless King’ on one of Atonement’s stand-out moments. Into the middle of the album and Leach purges with his personal demons in ‘I Am Broken Too’ and ‘Sure as The Sun Will Rise’, two tracks that form so close a symbiosis it seems difficult to separate them.
From this point Atonement lurches into more generic territory, but when you’re a band that pretty much defines the genre that’s acceptable, especially when it’s done so well. ‘Ravenous’ shows some true heaviness returning but Atonement reaches peak heavy and aggression with ‘Bite the Hand That Feeds’. With possibly not only the heaviest breakdown on the album but one of the heaviest of their career, Killswitch are devastating here and D’Antonio simply crushing.
Atonement is the perfect album for Killswitch Engage to have created at this point, both accessible and savage, with all the traits they inspired in their imitators and copyists, just better. So. Much. Better. This is the best Killswitch Engage since Leach’s return.
- The Signal Fire
- Us Against the World
- The Crownless King
- I Am Broken Too
- As Sure As the Sun Will Rise
- Know Your Enemy
- Take Control
- I Can’t Be the Only One
- Bite the Hand That Feeds