Killswitch Engage “Atonement" ReviewDate: August 19, 2019
By Valentino Petrarca
Review: Killswitch Engage had so much to live up to with their newest studio record relase. Their last album Incarnate was one of the best albums of that year, was hailed by many critics, and had some of the best songs the band has released in years. It was a step up for the band and proved to the general public that they were a force to be reckoned with. Now three years removed, how has the band followed up on that album? I am happy to say in many ways the band has lived up on their albums’s previous success. Atonement is everything I wanted from Killswitch and more. The album certainly has it’s faults, but it is an ambitious project with a great deal of thought put into exposing themselves so deeply and personally, as well exploring their sound sonically.
The album has a very unique sound and tone that feels like old Killswitch Engage, but also with some new elements mixed in. The album is incredible in the way is transitions gracefully from furious screaming to passionate singing. The band has always been good at that, but it feels magnified on this record. The album feels so vicious and melodic at the same time. While the instruments are always heavy and peircing, they still feel extremely rhythmic. The tone of the record is very consistent and it feels like a tight cohesive album. There are no outlining songs on this record, every song has a place and feels intentional. The guitar work is some of be best the band has ever written. The guitar is constantly explosive and sounds very fluent. There is constantly so much passion in the instrumentation and everything sounds very original. While the vocals are definitely very good throughout the entire record, I felt that Jesse was slightly holding back during the singing aspect. His screams are phenomenal as always, but he rarely fully belts when singing. I think that he does a great job throughout the album, I just wanted a tiny bit more power from his clean vocals, especially on choruses.
The lyrics on Atonement are more personal than previous Killswitch albums. Songs like I Am Broken Too, show the band exposing their pain to the world. The band is at best lyrically when they are diving into their personal lives and struggles. There are a few political songs on the record that feel hardly memorable. Lyrics on tracks such as Bite The Hands That Feeds are okay but not spectacular. In 2019, every metal and/or rock band has discussed politics in their recent releases because of the chaotic social climate. That being said a lot of these political messages have been delivered before in similar ways. I do think that the lyrics on this record as a whole, is a massive step up from Killswitch’s previous two albums. It is very clear and obvious that the band poured their heart and soul into this album’s lyrics.
There are a lot of amazing stand out tracks on the record. The Signal Fire is perfectly heavy and chugging with an amazing and bombastic chorus. Us Against The World also has a massive chorus and feels sonically and lyrically enormous. I Am Broken Too oozes the pain of emotionally suffering and has a sense of longing throughout the track. The song feels like an emotional journey. Take Control is a perfect Killswitch Engage song with a flawless mix of heavy-metal and soul. It has a chorus and a solo that absolutely soars above what other bands are doing. I Can’t Be The Only One is also an fantastic deep cut of the album. Finally, Bite The Hand that Feeds is insane and feels like a full blown angry meltdown in the best possible way. Some songs that fall flat are Know Your Enemy and The Crownless King. These songs are not objectively bad by any means. A subpar Killswitch Engage song is still way better than 99% of other metal acts in modern day. But those two songs in particular do not feel nearly as memorable as the rest of the album.
Overall, Atonement by Killswitch Engage is an extremely well crafted album. It delivers on everything I wanted and was hoping the band would deliver on. I think that these songs are going to translate really well live and become a staple in the Killswitch catalog. Anyone who was a fan of the band’s previous work or who just enjoys good rock music should definitely check out this release.