Complain all you want about the state of modern music. Yes, we have to deal with fake soul like Maroon 5, fake screamo like The Used, and fake men like Panic! At the Disco. But it's still a remarkable thing that heavy music with abrasive screaming has become at least partially mainstream. You won't usually hear it on radio, sometimes not even hard rock radio, but record sales speak for themselves. People are gravitating towards metalcore more than ever before.
Killswitch Engage is arguably the biggest band in this emerging phenomenon, right alongside Lamb of God. Whereas the latter mine Pantera's military-stomp territory, Killswitch Engage excel in two areas: brutality and melody. As Daylight Dies shows a band getting even better at their craft, honing their ability to write concise, catchy metal. The opening title track is a perfect summation of what they do, beginning with atmospheric tones, going into a punishing breakdown with bloodcurdling screams, followed by an anthemic chorus.
Howard Jones has a wide range of vocal diversity, from low growls to high-pitched screams to nearly operatic singing. The reason why Killswitch Engage can get away with so much singing is due to the simple reason that Jones doesn't sound like a wuss. So many hardcore vocalists turn to whiny hooks in their choruses, and then try to get tough again. Jones screams better than almost any frontman, and can then turn around and sing perfectly while still maintaining aggression. He's also lucky to have talented guitarists writing songs that are complex yet memorable. Adam Dutkiewicz produces their albums, along with countless other bands, yet still finds time to keep his own band's songs from becoming an afterthought.
Granted, what Killswitch Engage relies on can best be described as a formula, and over the course of an entire album, that formula can get slightly tired. That along with a couple songs that just don't make the cut, keep As Daylight Dies from being perfect. Critics will claim that it's their straying from their original, heavier material that drag it down, but it's really just simple mathematics. You can only take so much of the same thing for so long. But Killswitch Engage don't overstay their welcome too much, and keep the album at a lean eleven songs. Metalcore's dying days may well be approaching, but this is one band that may be able to stand above the rest of their peers, appreciated for making heavy music with actual substance.
7.9 / 10
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Posted May 29, 2009, 11:25 a.m.
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Posted Dec. 5, 2008, 9:07 a.m.
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