The 2014 Arsies: January 13, 2014

January 13, 2014

Welcome back to the second week of The Fifth Annual Arsies! Killswitch Engage, by far the more well-known of today's two competitors, also won the cointoss, so we'll start with them.
The highest praise of Disarm The Descent is that it delivers exactly the goods you want it to. Also, a major question going into the release of this album was around the return of frontmann Jesse Leach; happily his vocals sound fresher and reinvigorated. All that said, this praise is also the album's biggest problem. In its dogged pursuit of proving that Original Recipe(-ish) KSE still have what it takes, it somehow misplaces the element of excitement. Much of the album comes across as a bit too polished and formulaic, too KSE By The Numbers. Worse, the highlights of the album (You Don't Bleed For Me and Always) are more focused on radio-friendly melody than the metal, and the band's doubling down on soft vocals undermines the other side of the album. So that's the soft underbelly that KSE expose with their latest. Hopefully their opponent isn't overly heavy or gross...
The Psyke Project's Guillotine is one of the most punkish metal albums I heard all year. There's actually good musicianship in evidence here, but you have to excavate a metric assload of antisocial soundscaping to get to it. I mean, just listen to this! In a year that was frankly dominated by Kurt Ballou productions that amounted to a remarkably forgettable passel of noisy children, Guillotine retains just enough individuality to keep it fresh. Brutal, but fresh. It can get exhausting at times, but that weakness of mine only underscores how much of a body blow The Psyke Project delivers. They leave Killswitch Engage in the unceremonious dust, and proceed to the next round in three weeks, in which they challenge The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Tomorrow, we'll see what happens when Aussie progheads Karnivool challenge Swedish saga-smiths Amon Amarth.

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