Written by Alex Stojanovic
The Signal Fire
Us Against The World
The Crownless King
I Am Broken Too
As Sure As The Sun Will Rise
Know Your Enemy
I Can't Be The Only One
Bite The Hand That Feeds
Release Date: August 16, 2019
Label: Metal Blade Records
Jesse Leach - Vocals / Adam Dutkiewicz - Lead guitars & backing vocals / Joel Stroetzel - Rhythm guitars & backing vocals
Mike D'Antonio - Bass / Justin Foley - Drums
Jesse has always been open about his battles with depression and anxiety. He went through a lot in the last couple of years, including him and his wife going their separate ways after 16 years, and needing to undergo surgey when he had a polyp develop scar tissue in his throat, and him needing vocal, speech and scream therapy. The patient hours of re-learning the techniques on how to properly scream paid off, and he sounds better than he ever has on Atonement. His screaming is a lot more powerful.
Going back to Howard Jones, he is featured on the track "The Signal Fire". I honestly feel that this should've been the album's opening track as opposed to "Unleashed". The way it comes just thrashing right out of the gate is just amazing. Many fans were over the moon with joy when they heard Howard's vocals on a Killswitch song for the first time in 10 years, and rightfully so. One of my top track picks is "The Crownless King". Now, can anyone hazard a guess as to why that is? Any guesses? Anybody.......? You got it, because Chuck Billy of Testament is on this track. As I mentioned in another review, any track that Chuck touches with his immense vocals is instantly a hit with me. The riffing in this song is very much in the style of Testament, and the track kind of reminds me of "Down For Life" from The Gathering.
Of course, not all the songs are fast and heavy, which is a good thing, because then it would get stale really quick. "I Am Broken Too" is a more melodic song with no screams, but it's one of the heaviest songs in terms of lyrical subject. The song talks about Jesse's struggles with anxiety and depression, but the other great thing about it is that it contains a very uplifting vibe, which seems like a reminder to all of those out there struggling with those demons as well, to keep thinking about the positive things in life, and to not be afraid to talk to people about what you're going through.
Killswitch Engage have always been very straightforward and very economical in their songwriting, and for all you fans, you're going to love Atonement for exactly that. There's certainly diversity on the record, but not as much as I hoped. Sure, there are songs that are mainly sung clean with a few screams, which breaks away from the usual screamed verses and clean-sung choruses formula, but not much. One of the better examples of this type of song is "Take Control". I think it's the catchiest song on here.
It probably will never happen, and who am I to tell a band what to do and what not to do, but just to throw it out there, I think it would be really interesting if Killswitch were to write an 8-9 minute epic at some point. I think they could make a pretty compelling song that takes you on a journey. My two cents. With all that said, Atonement is another great album by a band that knows its strengths. After a bit of a tumultuous period, they return stronger than ever.
Highs: "The Signal Fire", "The Crownless King", "I Am Broken Too" and "Take Control".
Lows: They could've had some cleans from Howard on "The Signal Fire".
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