Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Killswitch Engage- The End of Heartache

August 25, 2004

Killswitch Engage- The End of Heartache

(Roadrunner)

There’s a sad phenomenon that has happened since the beginning of music: bands completely lose their edge when they get older. It just happens as a result of ‘maturity’. I mean, look at Metallica…they’re shadows of their former selves. They will never make anything near as cool as “…and Justice For All”. The End of Heartache is Killswitch Engage’s third CD. Have they lost their edge?

The answer is yes and no. They still make insane black metal- “When Darkness Falls” starts out with the blistering double pedal bass, screaming, and massive riffs that we’ve come to expect from KsE. Unfortunately it gets progressively quieter until the lead singer Adam (I’m not even going to attempt to spell the lead singer’s name. It looks Polish- that’s all you need to know) is singing over what basically is a heavy modern-rock track. That happens a lot in this album- they start out hard and then tone down, eventually pulling back up to a climax, then dropping down to less, and so on and so forth. While this is much more artistic than solid metal, this may not appeal to some hardcore metalheads.

Another thing that won’t appeal is “Inhale”- an instrumental (!) mellow (!!) piece that is profoundly beautiful (!!!). It’s on acoustic guitar- there’s no distortion- there’s no screaming- it’s just a beautiful piece of music that sounds like it belongs on a soundtrack. It then screeches back into some driving metal (“Breathe Life”) but for one minute and fifteen seconds, KsE transforms their album not into a violent metal monster, but a soft, elegant vehicle.

While this is shocking, it’s not a bad thing- after a few listens. They have such a unique take on mellow music that I feel like putting that on a mellow mix or two (and I’m notorious for the quality of my mellow mixes- so you can believe that it’s a good one). I’m sure that KsE expected people to be all abuzz over that track when they wrote it, so in order to not give in to the buzz, I will say no more of it.

To their credit, this album is genuinely interesting- the twelve tracks of this album are all distinct creations in themselves. Other bands seem to mesh tracks together in your mind after a while, but KsE mixes up the rhythm and mood enough to make it entertaining. Yes, I did just compliment mood- there are other moods than ‘violent’ and ‘more violent’ on this album. The title track “The End of Heartache” is pensive in mood- it’s still heavy, but it has a definite thoughtfulness to it. “Wasted Sacrifice” has a frustrated vibe to it- the pent-up, restrained anger leads to the best section on the album- a section about a minute long, from 0:30 to 1:30, where it’s heavy, technical, complex, and just mind-blowing.

Yes, KsE has toned it down a bit. It’ll still finish your metal fix (trust me, there’s enough metal here for two fixes), but it’s not as heavy as it used to be. Then again, they’ve become more careful with their artistic touches. How much you like this depends on whether you like quality or quantity in your metal; cause there’s definitely more quality here.

-Stephen Carradini
(You can find Stephen Carradini on a more regular basis at the monthly ‘zine he runs: www.independentclauses.com)

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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