I consider myself an open-minded person when it comes to metal, liking what I consider technically good, thoroughly enjoyable and such. But what I loathe is that the entire "non-metal" world looks upon our beloved genre as "screamo". The number one proponent of that lie is none other than the sub-genre of metalcore. It actually IS "screamo", where the musicians scream more than they sing and they play the same palm-muted breakdowns they ripped off from Slayer
over and over...and, just like black and nu metal, there are NO fucking guitar solos!
So why do I like Killswitch Engage
, you may ask? Call it tokenism, if you want, but Howard Jones is not only one of very few black men in metal, but he is also a baritone when it comes to his clean singing. And
, unlike the majority of metalcore bands, his clean vocals don't sound like an angst-filled 15-year-old whining about his inability to find love. Unlike Peter Steele, he's not croaking like Boris
Karloff (pardon the pun) but sings powerful vocals that show that baritones CAN sing more than doom metal.
So what's good about this album? I can only name five tracks that I enjoy out of almost fifteen (that's including the bonus tracks). The first track off As Daylight Dies
, the title track, begins sounding like it could be a soundtrack to the end of the world. Aside from a few licks and Howard Jones' clean singing in the chorus, it's pretty much your standard metalcore song (complete with a screamed breakdown).
"The Arms of Sorrow
" sounds like a typical metalcore song-title, and maybe it is. It starts out slow, and features lots more of Howard Jones' clean singing than any other track on the album, and therefore deserves attention. The breakdown is almost unnoticeable, in comparison with the epic high his low-register voice hits at the end. Therefore it deserves honorable mention.
Perhaps the most well-known song from this album is "My Curse
." As much as I hate "radio-edits", which end up hacking off the guitar solos, intros and various and sundry good parts of our favorite songs, the radio-edit of this song is by far many times better than the studio version. The reason being that when you hear the studio version, it's nothing but screaming: when you hear the radio-edit, the screaming is almost gone, replaced with much more of Howard Jones' ass-kicking baritone vocals. Lyrically, it's a love-song, very much like the video with the man ticking down the days until he can reach through the book-shelf and reach his love. Subject
-matter aside, the guitar-work, including the riffs, sound very good. If there is a "true" breakdown in this song, then it is in the two pre-choruses. The "usual" spot for one does sound like a breakdown, but the little licks played in between, which fade out as the song comes to a conclusion, are killer.
Regardless, this is still metalcore and there are no guitar solos...or are there? The last song, the last good song, is a cover song: one of our beloved Elf
's greatest hits. KSE's cover may not ever out-live Dio
's original version, but Howard Jones singing "Holy Diver" with a majority of clean vocals (and even some growling) is an inspiration to baritones everywhere. Aside from throwing in a breakdown of their own in the bridge ("Between the velvet lies..." etc), the band plays, not one, but TWO guitar solos: number one in between "Something is coming for you" and "Race for the morning" and number two the famous Vivian Campbell's shredding. Fortunately, the guitarists here are not playing around. They play so fast (and without the heavy use of palm-muting as Vivian did) that one would almost wish that KSE would leave metalcore behind and play thrash metal. I honestly think that with those kind of guitar skills and a kick-ass baritone singer like Howard Jones, they could make a better crossover to thrash metal than BFMV did: and would actually sound ballsier and less "emo" than BFMV did.
Unfortunately, what we saw with later KSE releases is that the band was not only unhappy with playing guitar solos, but with Howard Jones' clean singing. That
is a great depression, as depressing as the whole world associating good, skillful, shredding metal with chugging breakdowns and growling metalcore. The few songs on this album are decent, considering the genre of music this band plays.