Metalcore pioneers Killswitch Engage turned a few heads when they announced their decision to work with big-name rock producer Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, The Offspring), for this, their fifth (and second self-titled) album. It was an interesting decision, partly because they're a metal band choosing to work with a mainstream rock producer, but mostly because it's the band's first time working with an outsider (guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz has been at the helm for the band's previous albums).
However, the presence of O'Brien doesn't seem to bring all that much change to the proceedings; Dutkiewicz still co-produced it, recording the guitar parts in a separate studio, and the band only mines slightly more melodic territory than they already did on 2006's [i]As Daylight Dies[/i]. Sure, the production is smooth, but no smoother than Dutkiewicz's was on previous albums, and the band retains its signature sound. Overall, [i]Killswitch Engage[/i] sounds like a natural progression for the band.
The problem here is that despite some well-crafted melodies throughout, many of the songs simply don't stick, and are forgotten almost as soon as the next song begins. The band's not-so-secret weapon remains vocalist Howard Jones (who is in top form throughout) and his voice, along with air-tight guitar riffs and intricate fret work supplied by Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel, are front and center, as they should be. However in spite of all the pleasantries, the formula does not work quite as well this time around.
Interestingly, the bonus track "In A Dead World" is better than most of the songs on the album, so fans should be advised to pick up the deluxe package, which also comes with a trio of live songs and a short documentary DVD.