Killswitch Engage has the distinction of being a band that I had never heard before this year and has become one of my all-time favorite bands. I know statements like that are ripe for tearing down by others, but that's how strongly I feel about this Massachusetts-based quintet. The band's fourth album, As Daylight Dies, is not likely to gain the kind of kudos that Mastodon's Blood Mountain received earlier this year, but it is no less an incredibly strong effort.
As Daylight Dies is the first record in the band's career where the line-up is the same as its predecessor. Shifts in the drummer, guitarist and vocalist positions did not drastically the band's sound on their previous albums; they helped the band grow into a titan. But what happens when it feels like it's grown big enough that it isn't likely to drastically go anywhere? That's what I wonder when I listen to this record.
The eleven songs do not detour from what KSE fans are used to hearing: smooth-but-bruising guitars, guttural-to-clean vocals and tightly-focused drumming. There are plenty of melodic hooks and plenty of hard and heavy parts too. All the right ingredients are here but why does feel like the material feel like it's reached a crossroads? Because their previous records outdid their predecessors. As Daylight Dies doesn't out-do The End of Heartache; they're on-par with one another.
If you ask me, none of these tracks are weak, but "This is Absolution," "The Arms of Sorrow," "My Curse" and "For You" are some of the standouts. There are a number of spots that are trickier/mathier than what they've done before (see the intro to "For You" and most of "The Arms of Sorrow" for starters) and one song sounds like All That Remains wrote it ("Still Beats Your Name"). Still, I wish that the stellar "This Fire Burns" (currently only available on a WWE compilation) was on As Daylight Dies. It would not be an odd fit with the rest of the songs on the album and it would have been a welcome addition. Alas, that is not the case.
So if I were to review this record like Jim and Greg do on Sound Opinions, I would say hold off on buying this and burn a copy of for the time being. In hopes that Roadrunner reissues As Daylight Dies with bonus tracks (as they have done before with KSE's back catalog) in less than a year from now, it would be worth the wait if you like what you hear.