When metalcore hit an impetus, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE nearly did likewise with the unfortunate departure of Howard Jones, who left to battle Type 2 diabetes and depression. For many, Jones remains a brave voice along with Lajon Witherspoon of SEVENDUST for bringing soul to a genre that went a step further because of them. Moving forward, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE forgave and forgot the emailed resignation by original vocalist Jesse Leach in 2002, renewing their bonds and giving metalcore a monster shot of vitality in 2013 with "Disarm the Descent". With fans rallying behind the Leach-restored KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, the band has electrified them in response and in short time, drops another blazing new album, "Incarnate". If you were impressed the last time around, you'll be screaming "Vide Infra hallelujah" with this one.
"Alone I Stand" drops KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's customary tricks upon the table with switch-offs between thrashed-out verses and soaring choruses with Jesse Leach's bellows commanding much of the attention as with the ferocious "Hate by Design". Some of the album's grumbliest riffs rage through "Hate by Design"'s hardcore skulk, knowing it all whirls one-eighty into elevating choruses. Jesse Leach owns his turf, no matter how thick Adam Dutkiewicz, Joel Stroetzel and Mike D'Antonio's muscular chords are served him to outshine.
"Cut Me Loose" tosses ugly and beauteous tones along with Justin Foley's flurrying tempo variations, while "Strength of the Mind" chugs severely like nothing can get in this band's way, save for their own tuneful choruses and breakdown bombs. Changing vibes to an extent with the heaving quasi-ballad "Just Let Go", fans will go nuts by the change-up to fast and melodic verses and slow and lambasting choruses. It's all dropped inside three minutes, which is unheard of for metalcore anymore ("The Great Deceit" clocks in at 3:08 and likewise delivers an economic onslaught) and the bait is thus set for the remainder of "Incarnate".
While KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's songwriting mechanisms hardly deviate, the sweat pours out of the brisk sections on "Embrace the Journey…Upraised" while the choruses labor expressively. "Quiet Distress" is anything but. Despite a placid acoustic intro, "Quiet Distress"'s blitzing verses can induce concussive headbanging with the expectation Jesse Leach's barking will calm in tandem to the willowy choruses. While "Until the Day I Die"'s anthem cries ring like any metalcore standard, the stamping power metal grooves serving them up are breathtaking.
As with "Disarm the Descent", KILLSWITCH ENGAGE doesn't quite reinvent their sound on "Incarnate" as much as refine it while amplifying their strengths twofold. This album gives little ounce, even when baked in sweetness and effervescence. It is KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's confidence to go harder than ever yet fearlessly carry Howard Jones's soul twitches into a new era with the voice they began with. Jesse Leach has sounded not only rehired, but reborn on these past two albums, thus carrying his band a far distance from the majority of their peers, those who are still left to vie with them. A bittersweet bid farewell, Mr. Jones, "Vide Infra hallelujah," Mr. Leach.