The big story surrounding Killswitch Engage’s previous album (2013‘s Disarm the Descent) was the return of vocalist Jesse Leach to the fold for his first record with the band since 2002. After touring relentlessly for the past few years, they went back into the studio to record what became Incarnate.

Instead of coming in at the end of the process like he was last time around, Leach was involved from the genesis of Incarnate, an album that explores different sides of Killswitch’s recognizable sound. Opener “Alone I Stand” takes a minute to amp up before intense riffs and harsh vocals take over. The catchiness factor is high in both the edgier shoutalongs and the smooth, melodic chorus.

That style is Killswitch’s bread and butter, and they deliver it very effectively on the album. “Hate By Design” was released as a single, and for good reason. It’s a memorable track shifting effortlessly between accessibility and intensity, and throwing in a killer guitar solo for good measure.

Speaking of guitar, Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel deliver a diverse performance. In addition to the groovy meat and potatoes riffs and pinch harmonics metalcore is known for, there are also more complex and intricate parts that add variety.

Bassist Mike D’Antonio, who also does the band’s artwork, is front and center on the intro of “Embrace the Journey...Upraised,” and along with drummer Justin Foley holds down the bottom end very effectively throughout the album.

Leach’s lyrics address both current events and more personal, introspective topics. His delivery is passionate, as anyone who has seen the band perform live can vouch for. “Until the Day I Die” is an especially strong performance, switching between throat-shredding yells and melodic crooning.

It’s nice to have a producer the caliber of Dutkiewicz in the band, and he was able to make Incarnate sound great sonically. He also has the familiarity with his bandmates to know how to get the most of their abilities to generate their best possible performance.

There are no major surprises on Incarnate, but Leach’s passionate vocals and the band’s ability to write memorable songs makes it a solid addition to their catalog.

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