15 years after the release of their debut album Alive Or Just Breathing, Killswitch Engage return as the elder statesmen of metalcore with new album Incarnate. There’s something refreshing and welcoming about a new Killswitch Engage record; Leach’s lyrics about overcoming your demons and inspiring self-belief, teamed with a thunderous rhythm section, intricate guitars, and (if you’ve ever experienced them live), Adam D’s theatrics. So, here is the band’s seventh album Incarnate.
‘Alone I Stand’ starts in a similar vein to previous Killswitch album openers, a steadily building introduction before Jesse Leach lets loose a guttural roar, while first three singles ‘Hate By Design’, ‘Cut Me Loose’ and ‘Strength Of The Mind’ continue the onslaught, ‘Cut Me Loose’ in particular displaying one of the finest choruses of the band’s discography.
While the first half of Incarnate is standard Killswitch Engage fare, the second half of the record is far more adventurous; ‘Quiet Distress’ fits four different sub-genres of metal into four minutes, while ‘Until I Die’ sounds like a band at their very peak, playing to no expectations whatsoever – it could also be Jesse’s finest vocal performance ever, which is saying something!
Musically, Incarnate is strong if predictable at times, but then after 15 years in the business, the band has a pretty good idea of what does and doesn’t work for their fans. On the flipside however, Jesse Leach sounds truly outstanding; his performance on Disarm The Descent was good, but on Incarnate he sounds ferocious, defiant, and as though his life depends on it.
Killswitch Engage’s second album since the reintroduction of vocalist Jesse Leach could have been something of a make or break for the band, determining whether they would continue pushing their own boundaries or move into ‘legacy’ territory, and thankfully Incarnate is the former. It’s a fine addition to the band’s discography, and tracks like ‘Cut Me Loose’ and ‘Until I Die’ will be staples of the live set for years come.