Photo credit: John McMurtrie
Following the announcement that they’ll be supporting Parkway Drive on their Reverence Australian Tour in October, Massachusetts metalcore kings Killswitch Engage have also announced two intimate headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne during the course of their visit.
The genre-pioneering 5-piece are widely regarded as true originators of the new wave of American heavy metal, a fact their legions of followers around the world will attest to, and alongside bands such as Slipknot and As I Lay Dying have become a household name for fans both new and old.
Through seven studio albums, the band has continued to provide a crushing, soaring soundtrack throughout the evolution of modern metal and ultimately given life to many of today’s best-loved heavy bands.
The departure and eventual return of frontman Jesse Leach (the band released four critically acclaimed albums with replacement vocalist Howard Jones at the helm) has always been a talking point for fans, but there is little doubt that every album the band has produced has been an exceptional display of musicianship, regardless of the line-up.
You know we love a list here at Maniacs, so we decided to celebrate the return of the mighty Killswitch Engage to Aussie shores with our top 5 tracks from the band’s epic catalogue. No easy task, but we got to listen to a bunch of KSE all day so it’s cool. Here we go.
Hate By Design
The message behind 2016’s Incarnate was largely inspired by the current socio-political climate and our own place within it. From racism to inequality to cultural disconnect, it was all addressed here and for better or worse, the record itself feels closer to home for Jesse Leach who by now had returned to the fold and rediscovered his ability to deliver absolutely mind-blowing performances. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz hasn’t lost a step either, serving up of thrash-spattered hooks to die for throughout. If there is one thing KSE have always been, it is catchy, and Hate by Design sees them remain as accessibly awesome as ever.
The End Of Heartache
With the departure of Jesse Leach came the arrival of formidable frontman Howard Jones, who starred on the band’s triumphant third album The End of Heartache. Widely regarded as their breakthrough moment, few tracks in the band’s repertoire raise hairs or evoke vehemence quite like the title track from this 2004 monster. Featuring on the Resident Evil: Apocalypse film soundtrack and being nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 47th Grammy Awards, the song allowed Killswitch an opportunity at super-stardom and will always have a place in our hearts.
The sheer depth of Killswitch Engage’s arsenal makes them one of the more compelling metal bands in recent memory, given that releases like the vastly underrated 2006 epic As Daylight Dies included moments as powerful as lead single My Curse. Thematically, KSE stay the course, but it’s in the music where their artistic growth really evolves. While the initial reaction to the record was questionable, it has since revealed itself to be a treasure trove of monstrous metalcore goodness. My Curse peaked at #21 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart and was a triumphant statement for the band as one of the genre’s heavyweights.
My Last Serenade
Likely the most famous of Killswitch Engage’s songs, and the standout track from the band’s 2002 Alive or Just Breathing album, which is often heralded as the opus from which modern metalcore was born. A staple of every live set (everyone recognises that melodic intro); there is something exceptionally raw about My Last Serenade. It is a brutally honest outpouring of feeling and emotion while remaining undeniably heavy. Leach’s harsh, often piercing shrieks and guttural lows, chuggy, djent driven guitar riffs and epic open chord breakdowns further establish what we now know to be the blueprint for metalcore as we know it today.
Rose Of Sharyn
This gloomy, yet oddly uplifting number is Killswitch Engage’s ode to the bereaved. Love, loss and determination in the face of grief shape this deeply cathartic musical eulogy. “Numb, and broken/Here I stand alone. Wondering what were the last words I said to you. Hoping, praying that I'll find a way to turn back time” bellows Howard Jones, allowing us into this intensely personal and earnest moment. It is painfully sad, but we’re also filled with hope and a belief in eventual recovery. Listening to Rose Of Sharyn while actively trying not to feel something can be likened only to trying to take a piss in the wind. Its foundation is heartbreaking and sombre, but the message is purifying and overwhelmingly positive in kind, and sonically it is truly magnificent in stature.