Thrash Hits

December 1st, 2009

Band of the Decade: Killswitch Engage

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Killswitch Engage
Peak: 2004
Era: The End Of Heartache

What have Killswitch Engage done in the 2000s?

Their 30 minute-long self-titled 2000 debut was released through Ferret and has lately been referred to as more of an EP by Howard Jones. At the time, however, it was simply a blistering assault of melodic/harsh vocals and duelling dual guitars that were more akin to the Gothenburg school of metal than anything distinctly American. 2002’s Alive Or Just Breathing carried on where that left off, this time on Roadrunner Records but singer Jesse Leach unceremoniously quit the band just months after the release after suffering depression. Hello, Howard Jones.

Jones joined the band in 2002 despite thinking their sound was a bit too clean and was thrown straight in at the deep end as the band was touring Europe. Apparently it all turned out ok though because new videos were recorded with his vocals and 2004’s The End Of Heartache. This is arguably their finest album to date as it hit the UK Album Chart at #40. Melding some of the most brutal riffs they’ve ever written with some of the finest melodies, Killswitch were at their most riveting at this time.

killswitch engage end of heartache album cover thrash hits

2006’s As Daylight Dies followed on perfectly from TEOH with slightly more refined musicianship which retained all their fanbase and added those who enjoyed the odd ballad here and there, thus cementing their position as the only metalcore band you ever need to listen to. This leads us to this year’s self-titled fifth album. It’s sold over a million copies in the US. Not bad.

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Why are Killswitch Engage one of the most important rock acts of the past decade?

Having released all five of their albums over the last nine years, Killswitch are absolutely symbolic of this decade gone. While that debut album didn’t really prick the ears of the hardcore masses at the time, metal behemoths Roadrunner Records stepped in to sign the Massachusetts metalcore pioneers. They saw something in KsE’s music that could blaze a new trail, and blaze they did. The New Wave of American Heavy Metal was still quite fresh at the turn of the century but Killswitch still managed to trundle in and make – and I mean really make – Metalcore the defining heavy sound of the new generation.

Sure, it’s a much-maligned genre which has spewed forth some awful bands (It Dies Today, All That Remains, other bands incorporating death into their stupid name) that are more interested in keeping their fringes kept swept firmly across their stupid foreheads but bands like Killswitch Engage and even Lamb Of God make it worth ever happening. Just remember this next time you’re watching another stupid melodic metalcore band. Especially when the ugly shit tries to sing. The point is, without the undeniably massive success that Killswitch achieved , this whole crazy fad probably never would have had the legs to ruin so many of our evenings.

Watch Killswitch Engage on Thrash Hits TV @ Download Festival 2009

Oliver Sykes from Bring Me The Horizon had the following to say about one of his favourite bands:

“My most memorable Killswitch moment by far has to be the fact we actually toured with them. It was our first big tour and our first time in Europe. The shows were insane and they were such good dudes. When I got their CD and put it on, I was like, “Shit, this is TOO heavy!” It took me a couple of listens til I got comfortable with it but they for sure opened me up to truly heavy music. ‘Fixation On The Darkness’. Go listen to it, you don’t need to ask why.”

What is the legacy of Killswitch Engage and their music?

The legacy? We’ve had to drink so much more beer to make shitty metalcore bands sound good. Sadly, we found that this doesn’t work as well as it does for turning ugly women into potential future ex-wives. When these worlds collided we drunkenly dragged the nearest ugly out of the venue to a) get away from the crappy music and b) get off with the hottie we just snagged. Killswitch Engage ruined our lives as much as they enriched it. That’s pretty special.

What is next for Killswitch Engage?

They’re currently on the Taste Of Chaos tour with In Flames, Every Time I Die and Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster. Judging by their current status of being MASSIVE, you should expect to see Killswitch stay on tour for a while longer. (2010 summer festivals).

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Check out the rest of our End of the Decade coverage.

Are you a Killswitch fan? Have you seen Adam D running about in his pants onstage? What’s the funniest joke you’ve ever heard him tell? Did you ever see Jesse Leach? Tell us below.


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