Incarnate picks up from where Disarm the Descent left off perfectly. It feels like a continuation of that branch of Killswitch Engage’s long history. It represents a refinement of the formula found in their 2013 record, but it doesn’t push the band forward in any meaningful way.
The biggest differences between Incarnate and Disarm the Descent are the album’s sound quality and slightly heavier tracks. Incarnate sounds great. It’s louder, meaner and has a little bit more meat on its bones than its predecessor. As I said above however, it doesn’t add anything new to Killswitch’s sound. There’s a feeling here that you’ve heard it all before.
This is both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, I would’ve loved to see the band challenge themselves, pushing their boundaries and challenging the listener too. This can go wrong though. Recent examples of Opeth losing their sound and new ideas from Lamb of God falling flat spring to mind. Incarnate may only offer more of the same kind of thing, but what it does offer is a great mix of songs, with some definitely making their way into classic territory.
Strength of the Mind is the best track on the record. There’s no getting around that. It has everything that you’d want from a Killswitch track. It’s heavy, its got a brilliant riff and has an incredibly memorable and catchy chorus. A real crowd-pleaser. Then you’ve got Alone I Stand, Until the Day (with its James Bond-esque sound), Hate by Design, Embrace the Journey… Upraised and Ascension giving Strength of the Mind a run for its money. Truth be told, there’s not a bad track on the album, each one offering something slightly different. They all complement each other too, meaning that this is record full of individual awesomeness as well as offering a cohesive whole.
The song-writing feels quite tight, too, with some consistency of theme. Some tracks however, can dither in places, but build up steam towards the end (It Falls on Me for example). Performances from each band member are great too. Jesse Leach has never sounded better, giving angrier screamed vocals and more melodic soft vocals than ever before. The album does miss a bit of the simplicity of older records, with more complicated riffs and song structures present than ever before. Some may prefer the subtle song-writing shift seen in their last two albums, but it makes for records that aren’t quite as memorable as the band’s earlier material. There’s nothing on Incarnate quite like My Curse or My Last Serenade.
Killswitch Engage’s second journey with Jesse Leach is proving to be rather fruitful, but they still haven’t produced a record to take the crown from Alive or Just Breathing or The End of Heartache. Time will tell Incarnate’s place in Killswitch’s incredible history, but for now, at least, it comes easily recommendable to Killswitch fans and fans of the metalcore genre.