Strong Musical, Lyrical Content Makes ‘Atonement’ Appealing For KsE’s Fans, Metalcore Fans Alike

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The members of Killswitch Engage received some positive news this week.  The band received a Grammy® Award nomination for “Best Metal Performance” for its single ‘Unleashed,’ which is featured in the band’s latest full-length studio recording Atonement.  The album, the band’s eighth overall album and first for Metal Blade Records, was released Aug. 16.  The band is in the midst of a tour in support of Atonement, which will see the band perform at the Ritz in Raleigh, NC on March 15. It is just one of the performances included in the band’s current tour schedule, during which audiences will get to hear ‘Unleashed’ and many other songs from the recently released 11-song album.  The nomination for ‘Unleashed’ is justified, as it is just one of the songs that puts the album’s overall strength on display.  ‘Know Your Enemy’ also serves to show the strength of KsE’s latest studio recording.  The same can also be said of ‘The Crownless King,’ which comes early in the album’s 39-minute run time.  Each of the songs noted here plays its own crucial part in exhibiting the overall strength of Atonement.  When they are considered with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album proves the record to be an offering from KsE that holds its own with its fellow metalcore counterparts this year.

Metalcore outfit Killswitch Engage’s latest album Atonement is a record that will easily appeal to fans of the band and the genre in whole.  That is because both musically and lyrically, it is everything that audiences have come to expect from the Boston, MA-based band.  The album’s Grammy® Award-nominated single – and album opener – ‘Unleashed’ is just one of the songs that supports the noted statements.  The song’s musical arrangement plays its own part in showing why the song has proven so worthy of an award.  The fire and the energy in the heavy, guitar and bass-driven work wastes little time grabbing listeners’ attention as it builds quickly in its opening crescendo into its steady, familiar metalcore sound with measured guitars and steady time keeping. That full-on approach in the song’s arrangement couples well with the song’s lyrical content to accent the emotion in said content.

The song’s lyrical content is just as fiery as its musical content, with front man Jesse Leach sings/screams in the song’s lead verse, “Deceive me/Release me/Unleash me/You’ve unleashed the wild within/Welcome to the madness/That dwells inside these eyes/Pushed unto the breaking point/You’re running out of time/This innocent blood is on your hands (Deceive me)/Come face to face with the final stand (Release me)/It’s the part of me you can’t comprehend (Unleash me)/You’ve unleashed the wild within/The wild within.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “You who spoke defiance/You who spoke in jest/The last of all my tolerance/Has left this broken man.” He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “I remind you time and time again/You’ve broken the restraints against your heart/Against the dark/Can you feel the pain of those you’ve betrayed/The promises unmade/Broken hearts that fill with shame/And you’re to blame/Do they call your name?/There’s nothing left to say/Nothing left to say.”  There is little doubt here as to the focus of the song’s lyrical content considering all of this.  This is pure defiance against someone who has brought out the worst in someone else because that antagonist simply would not let up in their wrongdoing.  As Leach notes in the second verse, “The last of all my tolerance/Has left this broken man.”  This is someone who has put up with the noted wrongdoing for far too long and is saying to the antagonist, “no more.”  This is a situation to which so many listeners can relate.  Everyone has been in this point where they want to explode and say the same to certain people in their own lives.  By having this song to which they can relate, the composition will hopefully help listeners who have been or are in that situation so that they can release their own frustrations.  Considering the power in the song’s musical and lyrical content, it is clear why this song earned KsE a Grammy® Award nomination.  It is just one of the songs featured in this record that shows the album’s strength.  ‘Know Your Enemy’ also serves to who what makes the album appealing for audiences.

‘Know Your Enemy’ should not be confused with Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Know Your Enemy.’  The two songs are their own unique works.  KsE did not cover RATM’s work here.  However, it is definitely as defiant as RATM’s work in its lyrical content, which will be addressed momentarily.  The song’s musical arrangement forms its foundation.  This driving, upbeat work boasts its own identity unique from the rest of the album’s compositions, this time featuring a steady, driving guitar line instead of the djent style work of the album’s opener.  Rather, this arrangement boasts more of a melodic metal sort of approach.  That steady, driving arrangement forms a solid foundation for the song, with the noted lyrical content adding even more to the whole.

Leach sings/screams in the song’s lead verse, “Bow down to no one/resist the system/Lost in uncertainty/Divided in our strife/No comprehension of the conflict of our lives/become enslaved in a technological haze/In the crosshairs of a weapon/That dissuades our brains/The target is in site/Mental imprisonment/They’ll take you down from the inside (inside)/Self-destruction on command.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Resist – And fight back/Our minds – Under attack/Destroy – Their authority/And know your enemy/Protest – Demonstrate/We must – Retaliate/Bow down – To no one/An know your enemy.”  The song continues on in the same fashion as it progresses, with Leach even noting late in the song, “It runs much deeper than you think/You’ll never see who pulls the strings/You’ve got to know/Know your enemy/Force fed illusions/in this world of confusion/You have to know/Know your enemy.”  There is no doubt this is a sociopolitical commentary from the band that is urging people to be aware of everything going on and to (pardon the term) take the power back..  It definitely does not and will not fall on deaf ears, either.  It is just one more way in which Atonement proves to be another positive offering from KsE.

‘Unleashed’ and ‘Know Your Enemy’ are both key additions to Atonement.  Each song is distinct from the other both musically and lyrically, giving listeners collectively plenty to appreciate.  While they go a long way to show why Atonement will appeal to the aforementioned audiences, they are just a sample of the album’s positives.  ‘The Crownless King’ is another example of what makes this record another work that will appeal to the band’s fans and to metalcore fans alike.  ‘The Crownless King’ stands out in part because of its musical arrangement, which boasts another familiar sound from the band.  There is a certain old school thrash sound coupled with the band’s own metalcore sound and the mix of Leach’s growls and clean vocals to make the whole of the song one of the album’s most notable works.

The song’s musical arrangement goes a long way to make the song stand out among Atonement’s overall body of work.  It is just one important part of the song, though.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important as its musical content.  The song’s lyrical content comes across as another sociopolitical commentary, this time perhaps very intentionally directed.  Leach sings in the song’s lead verse, “Abolition to this illusion/And all the monuments of hypocrisy/Burn them – Burn them to the ground/Destroy them – They’re useless to us now/Tear down the reminders of a crownless king/this imposter claims authority/Indignation is closing in/You choose a war/A war you cannot win/No one – No one can save you now/Cast down – Where no mercy can be found/No willingness to bow to a king without a crown/Where the virtuous can’t be found/Defy you – To the depths you descend/I defy you – To the death we defend/Defy you – Your rule will come to an end/I defy you – You’ve become the crownless king.”  If this is not a song focused on everything going on in Washington, D.C. then it would certainly be interesting to learn of the real focus here.  The song’s second and third verses add even more strength to the argument that this song is focused on the happenings in Washington, D.C., with Leach singing in the song’s second verse, “The penitent pray for the downfall of your/Of your reign/The warrior soul shall break the hold of constraints/In the end you will suffer.”  He adds in verse three, “the storied confusion/Distorted and diluted/Will come undone when the balance shifts/And the framework breaks/The framework breaks.”  Once again, this certainly seems to be addressing the presidency of one Donald trump and what has happened as a result of his false presidency.  If in fact that is truly the focus of the song’s lyrical content, then it has been delivered in a unique fashion.  To that end, the combination of such strong lyrical content and equally strong musical content makes this song yet another important addition to Atonement.  When it is considered alongside the other songs discussed here, the whole of those songs and the rest of the album’s works makes Atonement in whole, yet another work that will appeal tto fans of Killswitch Engage and to fans of the metalcore genre.

Killswitch Engage’s latest full-length studio recording Atonement is another positive offering from the veteran metalcore band.  It is everything that audiences have come to expect from the group both musically and lyrically.  That is evidenced through all three of the songs discussed here and the eight other songs that make up the remainder of the album’s body.  The thoughtful lyrics and pummeling musical content combines from start to end to make the album in whole a work that holds its own in this year’s fild of new hard rock and metal albums.  More information on Atonement is available online now along with all of the band’s tour information at:










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7 thoughts on “Strong Musical, Lyrical Content Makes ‘Atonement’ Appealing For KsE’s Fans, Metalcore Fans Alike

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