The End Of Heartache
With nu-metal now officially resting in perpetual pain six feet closer to Hell, music hacks worldwide have recently been going batty (perhaps justifiably) over what is perceived as the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal. Hailed and revered for providing a long overdue plastic surgery to the wrinkly, toothless hag of metal, it has spawned many acclaimed protagonists like Lamb of God, Atreyu, Shadows Fall and Chimaira, who have all been consistently garnering column inches in leading international music publications. New England natives Killswitch Engage belong in the same league. No strangers to the quirks of fate that lurk and pounce at the most inopportune moments, in the darkest and most desolate alleyways of life, they lost their frontman Jesse Leech days after the launch of Alive Or Just Breathing in June 2002. Being their sophomore outing, it – along with the band’s debut – raised the stakes of Yank metal to vertigo-inducing levels. However, with the amputation of vocalist par-excellence Jesse, are the wheels of this once engaging juggernaut going to fall off? Would the assiduously crafted groundwork come undone? No! Despite guitarist Adam D once again being “wicked skeptical” about the group’s future, they have ricocheted back with a vengeance.
A gentle pressing of the killswitch unleashes a captivating slab of metal-core; “A Bid Farewell” that unabashedly flaunts its creamy servings of melody. “World Ablaze” and the Pantera-esque “Breathe Life” are pure corkers that really push the envelope with towering riffs and screams, while the acoustically flavored “Inhale” provides a buffer between them. The all-encompassing title track pounds like a jackhammer, while the intricate spacey piano-work on “…And Embers Rise” showcases their highly commendable songcraft. Heartfelt lyricism and an inspired vocal performance aside, “Rose Of Sharyn” takes its cue from the Euro-metal ilk (think In Flames, Children of Bodom), which incidentally isn’t the sole instance. While the pulverizing “Wasted Sacrifice” manages to end the heartache of apprehensions as Jones’s talent and the knack of perfectly fitting the shoes of his predecessor, become blatantly obvious.
In some ways, this album is reminiscent of the last Machine Head record, with tons more hooks, harmonies and vocal melodies – which while Rob Flynn pulls off credibly, Howard Jones does with oozing grandeur. Killswitch Engage prove craftier than we presumed, ending up being a veritable and articulate mish-mash of metal might, hardcore bluster and euphonic melody. The End Of Heartache is accessible to a large cross-sectional collective without inviting a sneer or three from the highbrow, MTV-hating brigade. Neat!!!