The reintroduction of Jesse Leach into Killswitch Engage rejuvenated the band. Their last album, Disarm the Descent, laid down the gauntlet to every group that has taken the music they make and turned it into generic shit to peddle to the masses. While at the same time their live show seemed to ignite.
Which brings us to Incarnate, Jesse’s second album back in the band. It is a release that continues, at least, one theme from Disarm the Descent, Leach is one hell of a vocalist. In his time away from Killswitch his harsh vocals have got harsher, but maybe even more importantly, his clean vocals have come on leaps and bounds. He is the highlight on nearly every song on this album.
Which sadly, is because most of these songs aren’t that great. From the opening of ‘Alone I Stand’ there is something off about Incarnate. Everything lacks a spark. There is a lot of mid-tempo riffing here and it quickly begins to merge into one. If you can seriously go back and remember anything truly memorable about songs like ‘Quiet Distress’ then I will applaud you. Because for me, they just go in one ear and out the other.
Incarnate feels too safe. Like a band who are all happy and content in their lives releasing an album of music that is alright but is never going to pull up trees. As song after song of mid-tempo metalcore floods over you, it is hard not just to let it pass on by and that is not a feeling you associate with Killswitch Engage. They are a band that traditionally sound like they are playing for the skins and for most of this album you don’t get that impression.
Which makes it all the more frustrating when they do nail it. On ‘Embrace The Journey… Upraised’ they marry together big, slow riffs with a traditional Killswitch choruses and a dark, oppressive feel. Sadly, however, it is only song six of fifteen, and it is easy to forget in among the general feeling of disappointment which surrounds this overlong release.
Disliking a Killswitch album is never fun. They are the kind of band we need more of in heavy music and this doesn’t change that. If a new band dropped this, I might even love it because all the right pieces are there. Killswitch can still riff with the best of them. But for a band who have done the things Killswitch Engage have done, Incarnate just isn’t good enough.