A few years ago, I praised Killswitch Engage on this here blog quite a bit, as well as a few other modern metal bands. I still consider myself a big fan of The End of Heartache and As Daylight Dies, as well as KSE's Set This World Ablaze DVD, but trying to get into their latest, their second self-titled effort, has been difficult. I still call myself a fan of the band, and in hopes of not coming across as a fickle fan who abandons ship on a band (and burns the ship and claims to never really be on the ship anyway), I have some explaining to do.
I think it's fitting that the person who introduced me to the power of this band via his blog is also the person who best sums up my issues with 2009's Killswitch Engage. Eric's review is right on the mark. There are definitely great moments right out of the gate with the first two songs, and just when the record starts to feel really stale, in comes in a phenomenal intro on "Take Me Away." Yet "Take Me Away" as a song kinda sums up the album as a whole: great start, lackluster payoff, and the best stuff is at the beginning.
I fully understand that metal in itself is a limited genre stylistically and melodically. Like the aforementioned KSE records I like, I still treasure albums like Botch's We Are the Romans, the Dillinger Escape Plan's Miss Machine and Ire Works, and All That Remains' The Fall of Ideals., as well as pretty much every album by Zao, Metallica and Pantera. But what makes metal so unique and special is also what holds it back from being anything more than what it is. The desire for heaviness, brutality, power, rawness, speed, and the possibility for some friendly melody is strong, but all that after while starts to retread on itself.
As I've mentioned before, listening to metal music can be like looking at a number of different painters who only paint with black, gray, silver, and maybe a hint of brighter colors like red or white. In other words, the lack of variety is stilting, but if a band can make creative use of that limited color palate, then they're worth the while. But don't expect to buy every new record they put out. That's the lesson I've learned from these great bands. And I see no reason to drop my overall fandom of these bands just because I wasn't blown away by their latest record.