Killswitch Engage - Atonement Album Review

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By Anthony Spencer

The guys from Killswitch Engage have really put together something special here with their new release Atonement which will be released on August 16, 2019. This newest release from the metalcore mainstays, is truly an achievement considering the unforeseen difficulties during the recording process. Lead singer, Jesse Leach, dealt with serious vocal issues during the recording process which delayed the release date for good reason. When hearing news such as that about such a great voice in the metal genre, it’s easy to get a little worried but I think we’re all thankful that Jesse has made a full recovery. I’ve been a longtime fan of these dudes and am familiar with their catalogue so when I say that the vocals on this album sound so much more powerful than on previous releases, I mean it.

For those who aren’t familiar, original, and current vocalist, Jesse Leach, left the band in 2002 due to personal reasons which opened the door for the incomparable Howard Jones. With Jones, they went to places that they hadn’t reached before. Due to health issues, Jones left the band in early 2012 which opened the door for original singer Jesse Leach to try out for the band. Well, we know how that turned out. With this new album, the band has seemed squash any ill will and have invited Jones to appear on “Signal Fire,”as a guest vocalist. The track is truly a banger and my personal favorite due to it being heavy and beautiful all at the same time. In addition to Jones guest vocal spot, Testament’s frontman Chuck Billy makes a guest appearance on “Crownless King”. Both tracks utilize the undeniable talent of each vocalist and why they were brought in to begin with.

The band seems overtly angry with this new album and justifiably so. Vocalist Jesse Leach utilized current events as inspiration for the lyrics he belts out with great power and beauty and has unleashed arguably his best vocal performance to date. There’s a few things you can count on in life and one of them is that lead guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz will always produce and absolute gem. The production quality on this album cannot be denied. He is truly a master of his craft. The instrumentation on this record seems to be as crisp and clean as previous records. The guitar melodies are exactly what we’ve come to expect from these dudes with the necessary tone for whatever mood the band is trying to convey. I need to point out how the drums have seriously dropped my jaw a few times. Drummer Justin Foley does something that time and again blows my mind which is how he’s able to create such a big sound with his, in terms of metal, small kit. That man is without a doubt one of the best drummers in the genre.

Ever since Jesse Leach has been back in the band, the overall feel of the band has been different; different in the sense that they’ve gone back to what made them who they were to begin with. While most bands try to run from that, these dudes embrace it and build upon it. When you hear the riffing of this album, you know it’s very much a Killswitch Engage album. That’s truly why I love this band so much and why they’ve been able to continue to have such great success. While many other metal acts today are going in more directions than necessary, these guys maintain a signature yet innovative sound. After two decades of existence, they don’t seem anywhere close to stopping and if this new release Atonement is any indication, the best is yet to come.

Michael Phillips