When it was announced that Killswitch Engage was parting ways with vocalist Howard Jones, there was a great sense of loss amongst the fans. However, there was also a feeling of anticipation and hope as many people were holding their breath and secretly wishing that original vocalist Jesse Leach would return. When those prayers were answered the anticipation for a new KsE album skyrocketed.
Enter Disarm The Descent, the first album with Jesse Leach since 2002’s seminal Alive Or Just Breathing. It’s been 11 years, so naturally some questions arise. Does Leach still have what it takes for KsE? Was his return the best choice? Is this even an album worth venturing into? Head on below for my thoughts!
The album roars open with “The Hell In Me”, the first few moments sounding almost like a black metal offering. Blast beats, dissonant riffing, and ferocious growls dominate and terrify. The song then transforms into something more expected of a Killswitch song with near epic melodies. But what is perhaps most important in this song is how Leach seems to be throwing everything he has to prove he still has what it takes to front the band that brought him fame and recognition. And, in the end, he shows he has what it takes and more.
The album then goes into my personal favorite track, “Beyond The Flames”. Deft guitar work and an almost Swedish melodic death metal approach make this track shine. From there, the album dives into the band’s two singles, “The New Awakening” and “In Due Time”, which I’ve been a fan of since their release.
The album progresses with one well-written, catchy song after another. Perhaps the only song that didn’t grab me and still doesn’t entice me is “Always”, which seems to drag and doesn’t feel like it belongs, slowing the album down rather abruptly, especially considering it is the album’s longest track.
While sounding sharp and immediate, some of the album’s layers get lost in the background. Still, it bears a sharp sound, one that catches you by the throat and holds tight.
The Final Word: The return of Jesse Leach brought unreal expectations for Disarm The Descent. However, rest assured that Killswitch Engage matched those expectations in full spades and have released one of the strongest records of their career.