Friday metal – in defense of catchy songwriting

Killswitch Engage’s new, self-titled album doesn’t break much new ground. It combines the same elements of hardcore, thrash, and soaring, anthemic choruses that we’ve come to expect from their last two discs (The End of Heartache and As Daylight Dies). The lyrics still dwell on lost love and being a positive force in the world (with a little more self-loathing than previously). The songs are a little tighter, the production is a bit slicker (courtesy of mainstream rock producer Brendan O’Brien who has produced such act as Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and even Springsteen but also produced the newest Mastodon album), but they haven’t made any fundamental shifts in their sound. If there’s a really significant difference, it’s that vocalist Howard Jones (not that one) really shines here, with a lot more “clean” signing in the past. The guy is hands down one of the most talented vocalists in contemporary metal.

KsE have been tagged as sellouts and poseurs by legions of “true” metal fans who disdain anything that a normal person wouldn’t find virtually unlistenable. And, hey, I like crazy guitar theatrics and guttural death metal vocals as much of the next guy. But I also think there’s room in the metal pantheon for bands who write hook-filled, fist-pumping rock (ever heard of Iron Maiden?) and even dabble in ballad-ish territory (two of the album’s slower cuts: “The Return” and “Lost” are among the best).Anyway, here’s the video for “Starting Over”:

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2 thoughts on “Friday metal – in defense of catchy songwriting

  1. After reading that AV club primer you linked a few days ago I put some albums on hold at the library. While I’m waiting for them to become available I’ve been listening to Tool’s “Undertow”, a recommendation I picked up from the comments to that article. And, yeah, judging by those comments it looks like there are definitely some metal fans who consider themselves part of the one true church.

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