Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

Killswitch Engage - Disarm The Descent


Genre: Metalcore

Release Date: April 12, 2013

Record Label: Roadrunner Records






There’s no denying the fact that since former Killswitch Engage lead singer Jesse Leach was announced to be returning to the band’s vocal duties, that there has been a certain hype created long before the release of a new album. The main issue for comparison between records, is the fact the Leach hasn’t performed on a Killswitch Engage record since Alive Or Just Breathing (2002) and whether this new release would echo the early days of the band, or take the Howard Jones route. Weirdly enough, Disarm The Descent has taken from both eras, allowing the record to be received well enough, but each twist and turn is seen from a mile away with this hugely straight forward approach. Disarm The Descent, is far from a flop, especially in terms of commercial ability — Killswitch Engage’s 2013 record promotes the straight forward metalcore sound that the band did so well in the early days whilst retaining that melodic edge that the band found during Howard Jones’ time at the helm. For those hoping this might have turned out like another Leach project (The Hymn Of A Broken Man (2011)) chances are this album is going to leave you disappointed, because this is hardly innovative and completely straight forward Killswitch Engage. That aside, it doesn’t mean the masses won’t enjoy it.

Disarm The Descent is a stepping stone for Killswitch Engage. Those familiar with the rest of the band’s discography will know that these guys are capable of so much more. Whether it be the melodically emotive Jones era (with the likes of “End Of Heartache,” “My Curse,” “Save Me” or “Starting Over”) or the high octane, pour heart and soul into songs like Leach’s “Numbered Days,” “Life To Lifeless” or “In The Unblind” — Disarm The Descent comes off flat in comparison, like a warm up for something greater. Opening track “The Hell In Me” may lead off in the right way, attempting to blow the listener out of the water but unfortunately the sing-a-long hooks and screamed verses instantly lose steam. It’s clear from the get go, that Disarm The Descent isn’t going to be that ground breaking reformation album. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its merits but the record as a whole isn’t quite as substantial as it needs to be. Disarm The Descent sounds like a band simply going through the motions after a reunion and despite the negative connotations, it’s not actually a bad thing. Subtle differences do emerge, highlighting that this band can pull on both the nostalgic heart strings and appeal to their newer fans. “In Due Time” showcases a bombastic formula, switching between the instrumental works of As Daylight Dies and echoing Jones’ vocal patterns on The End Of Heartache (2004) whilst still having that typical Alive Or Just Breathing sound.

This Massachusetts five piece haven’t exactly come too far away from their original sound, even managing to regress at points. For one reason or another, their output has always been considered solid and even the band’s less than shiny moments still manage to provide an enjoyable ability to maintain the casual listener. This album is set squarely in that mold; the guitars are as precise as ever and in typical Killswitch Engage fashion have the random, but not out of place squeals and legato leads. Always ready to launch into a quasi-breakdown inspired riff fest, backed by a slightly guitar hugging bass that thickens the sound but doesn’t really add anything substantial that’s not already there. Foley’s drum work seems to be as solid as ever, but the beats and double kick runs come off as too much of the same thing, especially considering that he’s been using the same runs (on and off) for three albums now. They’re repetitive and far from the exciting fresh addition it could be and even with this in mind, those listening can’t really fault this for being typically Killswitch Engage, even if somewhat recycled on a large scale.

Overall, Disarm The Descent is a more than predictable affair, that’s not the excitable return for Leach it should have been. Instead of pumping nostalgic life into Killswitch Engage, Leach is left to carry the album out of mediocre metalcore and with his trademark notable energy and he does, but barely. Disarm The Descent could more or less be considered a show in direction for the group — if the track “No End In Sight” could be taken literally, Killswitch Engage have a fair while to go before they hang up the hook lines and always steady musicianship, no matter the vocalist. Chances are this particular record will achieve commercial success just as much as the band’s catalogue and affirm that this five piece will achieve a constant level of sales no matter who has the vocal reins. If anything has been proved from this release, it’s the fact that having Leach around changes very little, and that Disarm The Descent is but a stepping stone for something more.



1. The Hell In Me
2. Beyond The Flames
3. New Awakening
4. In Due Time
5. A Tribute To The Fallen
6. The Turning Point
7. All That We Have
8. You Don’t Bleed For Me
9. The Call
10. No End In Sight
11. Always
12. Time Will Not Remain

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The Amity Affliction – Chasing Ghosts


Genre: Metalcore / Post-Hardcore

Release Date: October 2, 2012

Record Label: Roadrunner Records






There are those who glorify the very idea of a paradisiac afterlife, shuddering in great apprehension at the contrasting visions of a violent hell. Some lead towards the extensively scrutinized theories and insights of recognized scientists, while others consider reincarnation to be an acceptable notion. With endless controversy surrounding the idea of life after death and no room for second opinions, it’s no wonder the youth of today are taking a stand and rebelling against the opposition. If you ask the boys of Brisbane, Australia’s The Amity Affliction, their answer is quite simple – there is no afterlife, just finality. When you die, your life truly does end. And that’s exactly what their third studio album, Chasing Ghosts, is all about.

Previously released in the summer as an album teaser, the opening single “Chasing Ghosts”  quickly sets the mood and overall feel of the album as a whole. Within the first few seconds, a crawling tempo and an eerie tone is present, only to be cut short by the distant, distorted screams of Joel Birch and clean, melodic vocals of Ahren Stringer. Between the fast-paced, heavy guitar chugs and the prominent, consistent drumming, the instrumentation and vocals come together to produce a strong sound that highlights the talents and dedication of the band. “Life Underground” enters with syncopated rim knocks on the snare drum, adding a dynamic edge to echoed vocals over a slow beat. The tempo increases slightly as the chorus is introduced, and a heavier sound is heard with the addition of guitars and painful screams. The track is nothing unique or ground-breaking, yet it aids in building tension and anticipation for the remaining tracks to come.

Death, grief and constant sorrow are heavily present in “R.I.P. Bon” a dark tune, surprisingly named after bassist / clean vocalist Ahren Stringer’s inanimate cat. While the content and lyrics may not be related to the song title itself, the hurt and confusion that one experiences when presented with death never ceases to exist in the voices of Birch and Stringer. Verses including “I feel I’m to blame” send the listener down a painfully inflicted path of sadness and misery, as if to a place that seems much too distant from the light nearing the end of the tunnel. Reality strikes, and the unsettling actuality of how precious life really is settles in, a constant reminder that so many of us tend to shake off and ignore. “Open Letter” also presents listeners with visions of gloomy clouds and darkened skies, an image brought forth by the heavyhearted mixture of distressed vocals and despondent guitars.

Cutting straight to the chase and leaving little room for an introduction, “Greens Avenue”  dishes out generic guitar chords and universal chugging. Even with the proud beating of the drums and various synth effects making an occasional appearance, the track is slightly lacking in technique and intelligence. Though it successfully flows with the overall theme of the album, it joins the ranks of any other cliché “post-hardcore” mirror-image that so many willing and eager artists strive to imitate. Additional tracks including “Flowerbomb” and “Pabst Blue Ribbon On Ice” contain similar themes, each producing a sound much too familiar for both fans and listeners alike. Luckily, redemption is in the verse with “I Heart H.C.” – a seemingly innocent track that opens with intricate piano notes, only to actively rise up and fight full force with a mean drum beat and fiery vocals. This one is forcibly loud and in your face, leaving little room for the weak and naive. With fading screams and synthetic beats, temperatures rise and hearts pour of pumping adrenaline. “Geof Sux 666” follows suit with an addictive beat and electronic fade-ins, not only promoting the sound of The Amity Affliction, yet also sounding much like fellow post-hardcore musicians We Came As Romans. The relaxed tonality of “Bondi St. Blues” makes this track the obvious and ideal album closer. Not too fast nor too slow, the beat sends the listener on one final journey through the spiraling winds of lost hope and despair, making it clear that the end is near and nothing further remains.

Death is a seemingly gruesome trap. It grabs a quick hold of its bystanders, drawing no line between the guilty or innocent. While The Amity Affliction see it as a bittersweet end and nothing more, the choice is ultimately up to you to decide for yourself whether something greater exists beyond the loathsome depths or not. Chasing Ghosts gives an inside glance at the views and opinions of the band members themselves, presenting fans new and old with the idea that not all ideas are bound by the concrete grasps of a conservative outlook. Perhaps there is a heaven and hell, a means of reincarnation, or the simple finality of life. Our beliefs keep us hopeful and true, and more importantly stray us from a grim path of sleepless nights and constant worries for a fearful tomorrow.



1. Chasing Ghosts
2. Life Underground
3. R.I.P. Bon
4. Open Letter
5. Greens Avenue
6. I Heart H.C.
7. Flowerbomb
8. Pabst Blue Ribbon On Ice
9. Geof Sux 666
10. Bondi St. Blues

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Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal


Genre: Metal

Release Date: July 3, 2012

Record Label: Sumerian/Roadrunner Records





Periphery came onto the Metal music scene in 2010 with a sense of flair and vibrancy; they were young offering a strong debut which was up until that moment, a purely work-in-progress concept far beyond the trash found in so many other corners of Metal. So what happened here? For one thing, the only element that has changed is Periphery’s ripening; they sound more like a band conversing as opposed to a single gear-head’s bedroom concept which saves Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal, from being wholly bogged down by its own inefficiencies. However, despite having tended to some of the grievances registered by their debut, namely Spencer Sotelo’s ear-bleeding chorus and false drums among others, the band have not succeeded in offering anything even hair splittingly different. This is called II for a reason, though, right?  Of course it is evident they are not aiming to push the envelope here; most of it appears to be intentional noodling, indirect tongue-in-cheek humor and a further solidification of their own foundations. The real question with all this in mind however is whether or not they’ve collected fourteen tracks worth your hour and ten minutes when you could just as easily turn to Periphery I for a similar result.

In continuation II falls short not only because it is about four songs too long (even though it runs about the same duration as their debut), but also its apparent formative structure reeks of B-side material, amounting to an album carrying a lot less bulk than what it was designed to hold.  Songs like “Froggin’ Bullfish” and “Masamune” noticeably suffer from this, starting and ending brilliantly, but are otherwise missing their ever so important cores. It could be worse though; the band isn’t completely devoid of inspiration. In fact if you look hard enough in between the filler (and there’s a load of it) II does contain a collection of enjoyable transients. “Ji” and “Scarlet”—both effectively bouncing between general open grooves and soft clean-guitar passages—verify the rumor of Sotelo’s developing skills on the mic and his validity as a frontman.  In each he manages to pull of vocal melodies which are not dreadfully unflattering.  At times he treads alarmingly close to Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, particularly during “Luck as a Constant” and “Make Total Destroy” ironically coinciding with their cover of Slipknot’s “The Heretic Anthem” from earlier this year—the track itself can be found as a bonus on the limited edition.

The standout of the album being “Ragnarok” easily one of their most effective and unique compositions, using authoritative open note riffs and an enjoyable melodic structure that evokes the bridge of Tool’s “Schism” (which ends up being a hook throughout the song), but it’s extended unhealthily by an electronic rehash of the debut’s closer, “Racecar.”  A song like “Racecar” should be considered done and dusted, not an Electro tack-on to what is otherwise II’s most effective and distinguishable moment.  Misha Mansoor has readily heeded his admiration for “electronic music” and what he and his street-buddies believe it sounds like (especially in interviews), but neither has he or his group offered a single iota of electronically produced sound that’s either pleasant or appropriate, unless it’s wearing a veil amongst riffs, or as a textural backing to them.  II actually expels less of this inter-song wankery than before, but it is become less of a novelty and more of a hindrance.

For a band who have molded the elements of Meshuggah and Dream Theatre busily into a sound that is safely distinguishable amongst the overabundance of groups in this fad, Periphery haven’t exploited it all to a degree where we can call their second effort a triumph.  This crop of “Djent” musicians and the scene associated with them is as questionable as Nü Metal was—and like any other movement it appears to be morphing beyond its confines. Periphery appear motionless, with both their albums being two sides of the same coin, meaning if their places were switched, their net effect would be identical. For fans, this extension of 2010 is easily going to be met with praise and enthusiasm, unremarkably, but it’s going to take a bit more to convince this reviewer of its merits.  The end result is an album which is served in equal portions of sour and sweet becoming only inert in conclusion, no matter how long it is, or how many guest soloists, cellos and violins it employs.




1. Muramasa
2. Have a Blast
3. Facepalm Mute
4. Ji
5. Scarlet
6. Luck as a Constant
7. Ragnarok
8. The Gods Must Be Crazy!
9. Make Total Destroy
10. Erised
11. Epoch
12. Froggin’ Bullfish
13. Mile Zero
14. Masamune

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