To avoid any confusion, no this is not a re-release of the first self-titled KILLSWITCH ENGAGE album (which is considered more of an EP by the band), but another self-titled album from the band which spearheaded the metalcore movement. While I can't really applaud the recycling of an old album title, I will throw a horn up for the band for not recycling the music itself. Immediately identifiable by their now signature sound, "Killswitch Engage" is, in many ways, a comprehensive look at the band's career. By taking the semi-polished fury of the early days and the over-glossed accessibility that we've seen for the last couple of years, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE have shown that they are indeed still moving forward as a band, even if they can't take their eyes off the rearview mirror.
Packed with an aggression reminiscent of their first couple of albums, songs like "Never Again" and "The Forgotten" bring a solid showing of thrashy guitars and percussive pummel to the table and stand out as a couple of the heaviest tunes KILLSWITCH ENGAGE has done in quite awhile. "Reckoning" is another one that ranks up there on the Richter scale with its speedy melodic riffing and commendable performance from vocalist Howard Jones. Say what you will about the frontman, but his dramatic croon as become the yardstick by which the throngs of copycat singers measure themselves and with the improved "angry guy" growl he employs on this record, it's not hard to see why Mr. Jones is so admired. However, his formulaic approach can tend to be a bit of a momentum killer on a song like "I Would Do Anything", where a mid-paced groove crumbles into a light and cheery chorus; a common occurrence on this disc. Treading into slightly darker territory, "The Return" is a song that relies more on emotion and texture than the almighty hook and shows a direction KILLSWITCH should have spent more time exploring here. Instead, we get a well-written, but ultimately forgettable, rocker like "Save Me" and the melodramatic "Lost". Fortunately, "Killswitch Engage" ends with a bit of tuneful rage in the form of "This Is Goodbye", where guitarists Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel harmonize, solo and chug away like inspired mad men.
Given the amount of studio shine that every previous KILLSWITCH ENGAGE album as boasted, to comment on this coat of gloss is almost unnecessary, save for the fact that super-producer Brenden O'Brien took a seat next to Dutkiewicz behind the board this time out. While his presence did nothing to change the sound or style of the band, there is an air of sound quality that we haven't had from the band until now. Speaking of quality, "Killswitch Engage" still doesn't come close to reaching the heights that "Alive Or Just Breathing" reached, but it is a hell of a lot more legitimate than anything they've done since then.