Killswitch Engage II

Pure Awesome

Pure Awesome

Killswitch Engage is a Metalcore band hailing from Massachusetts and started as a band in 1999. Back then, they had a different frontman, Jesse Leach, who, after 2002, left the band for personal matters. Shortly after his departure, guitarist Cortese and drummer Gomes (a year later) left the band to be replaced by Adam Dutkiewicz (who played drums in the band up until 2001, before he moved up to guitar) and Justin Foley respectively. They found a new vocalist in the producer and frontman of Blood Has Been Shed, Howard Jones, who has for years been the face people put on the name “Killswitch Engage”.

The first two albums released with Leach as singer brought us great songs such as My Last Serinade, which showcases the frontman’s growling, screaming, and melodic chops. Jones is no exception, as he does the song justice, singing it the same yet with his own signature style, which can be seen when you listen to the chorus at live performances.

I was first blown away by how strong the build-up was in the song My Last Serinade, which begins quietly, only to be blown away by “chug” metal riffs, coupled with Leach’s growling and screaming. The chorus won my heart, with its sudden change of beat pattern and actual audible singing chops.

Of course, the band’s change in vocalist and line-up brought about change in the way the band composed their music. This, of course, coupled with experimentation and age, they’ve produced epic songs time and time again. In their 3rd and 4th albums, they progress further into melodic metalcore, a genre that I think is only occupied by a few greats like In Flames and Shadows Fall.

The End of Heartache (2003) shows a more mature, less-raw take on metalcore. Still powerful, each song is a rollercoaster of heavy riffs and melodic highs, as shown by their single Roses of Sharyn.Roses of Sharyn starts out big and breaks into a bridge that begs for headbangs. I remember having a MASSIVE headache after banging to this song. Eventually, I learned it on guitar, and I realized just how masterful Adam and Joel are in making melodies that intertwine and chug riffs that cut solid steel. Howard’s singing on the song of course goes through the whole spectrum of growling, screaming, and singing. Classic sing-along metal, just as it was meant to be.

Not to be outdone, their 2006 release, As Daylight Dies, shows a better-produced and recorded set of new songs.Immediately in the first song, Daylight Dies, it starts off with a build-up song, which perfectly starts the album with a “call to arms” type thing, as an epic album should start. Funny, most of the songs in this album sport the soft-to-banging starts (evident in The Arms of Sorrow and My Curse), which I guess can make the album distinct from the past ones. My favorite, My Curse, had me singing along in no time. It’s just something almost hypnotic, the way Howard’s voice complements the heavy-yet-melodic way the instruments dance around.

The only thing I found with both albums is that if one would listen to songs from both albums mixed up, there may be no musical distinction for each album, making it hard to separate songs to their respective albums. This drawback, of course, isn’t that important, because it’s not each album that gets remembered, but each song for its melody and lyrics.

In their latest album, though, they slightly divert into old metal sounds reminiscent of Dio and Iron Maiden. This, of course is a welcome change, as Howard’s vocal signature and the band’s overall epic-ness comes intact. About frickin’ time for a new album! And one that doesn’t directly compare to the previous 2 albums under Howard Jones’ belt. The opening song, Never Again, begins with serious double-pedal beats and moves from harmonized guitars to chugging. When the chorus comes, you immediately know that this album’s going to hit you furious and hit you hard. Songs like The Forgotten and Starting Over (sampled below) then gives us that old-school metal feel I mentioned, and then songs like The Return shows us that the building-up factor perfected in previous albums didn’t die off and still gives this album a bit of flavour. Seriously, buy and listen to the album, compare it alongside the previous albums, and you’ll realize that this is a better Killswitch Engage with a mastery of their signature sound and a better understanding of what makes a good album stand out from not only other bands’, but their own previous ones as well.

Check out these songs, each from 4 different albums, from the 2002 sophomore release to newest one.

Killswitch Engage (2002) – Alive or Just Breathing – My Last Serenade

Killswitch Engage (2004) – The End of Heartache – Roses of Sharyn

Killswitch Engage (2006) – As Daylight Dies – My Curse

Killswitch Engage (2009) – Killswitch Engage II – Starting Over

Killswitch Engage is currently touring with the likes of In Flames. I’m pretty sad ‘coz I’m going to miss their Vancouver visit. I’d go, if I wasn’t so presssed financially! REALLY glad I decided to pick their new cd/dvd up though, on a random day after work. I wasn’t going to, but then it was just $15! A shameful price for an epic album. Well, I tell y’all, it’s awesome, so if you have the chance to grab it for around $20, DO IT.

PURE EPIC.

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