Aug 272019


(In this post NCS contributor Gonzo reviews the new album by Killswitch Engage, which is out now via Metal Blade Records.)

Perhaps no band in modern American metal has been able to pull off what Killswitch Engage have in their 20-year career: Ascend to the Billboard charts with one vocalist (Jesse Leach), then weather the storm of his departure with a serviceable replacement (Howard Jones), then weather the storm of his departure with the return of Leach, all while never relinquishing their crown as one of the genre’s stalwart kings.

With Atonement, released on August 16th, the band have shown no sign of slowing down. This is the third installment in Leach’s return, and the combination of its blazing riffs, masterful songwriting, and standout individual performances on every instrument might make it the best of the three. Continue reading »

Aug 082017


(Last year TheMadIsraeli posted the first two installments in this irregular series, and now brings us a third one.)

Another installment of irrelevant listening where I share albums in my rotation lately that aren’t current. Let’s get started.

Killswitch Engage – Alive Or Just Breathing: Top-Shelf Edition

Alive Or Just Breathing is the melodic metalcore album that in my mind has never been topped. Even the band themselves admitted in an interview, I think it was this year, that this is STILL their best album. I’ve written about this album before on the site and stumbled upon the so-called “Top Shelf” expanded edition (released in 2005) some time ago. Continue reading »

Mar 092016

Exodus-Tempo of the Damned


(TheMadIsraeli returns with another round-up of music from yesteryear that’s been keeping him company lately. Volume 1 can be found here. As will become obvious, the post’s title is tongue-in-cheek.)

Here we are with this again. I’m feeling this idea a lot, I have to admit. Getting right to it…

ExodusTempo Of The Damned

I honestly believe at the end of the day this is Exodus’ best Souza-era record. It has punch, attitude, mean-as-fuck riffs, and it feels like there’s a higher degree of precision here. I know people enjoyed the wild, free-spirited nature of their earlier albums, but I do feel like the band mastered their craft here.

It also stands as a pretty solid reminder that out of all the more popular American thrash bands, Exodus are the absolute KINGS of the mid-paced stomp. “Sealed with a Fist” is the epitomizing example, raunchy and in your face while being infectious and full of that piss and vinegar thrash captures so well. Continue reading »

Jul 172013

Rumors of this tour have been circulating, but now it’s official: Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Testament, and Huntress will be joining forces in a North American tour that begins in October and will hit 28 cities before it ends right after Thanksgiving. Tickets go on sale this Friday.

Check out all the tour dates after the jump. Continue reading »

Apr 112013

(Andy Synn is back with yet another of his five-item lists of favorite things.)

TheMadIsraeli’s review of the newest Killswitch album (which I still haven’t actually gotten around to listening to) got me thinking, mostly about missed chances and wasted potential. As a fan of KsE, even I have to acknowledge that, due to a variety of factors, some beyond their control, some due to their own decision-making, the band may have squandered some of their early potential.

That may sound rather harsh; it’s not meant to be but it may sound it. But I think it’s unfortunately an accurate assessment of things as they stand. Losing Jesse, the stalling of their initial momentum while they recruited Howard, the more simplistic, mainstream leanings that sanitised their most recent work… all these combined with the general state of the music industry and some unfortunate timing, have meant that the band never reached the “megastar” status which was, however fleetingly, hinted at by their early potential.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Killswitch Engage are pretty damn mainstream, at least by metal standards, right? Well that’s kind of my point… we often forget, we proud underground warriors, that for most bands, being part of the metal “mainstream” means fuck all to the “actual” mainstream. Bands with legitimate underground cred who get the merest sniff of wider exposure are immediately attacked for “selling-out” even when they’ve not changed a thing, they just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

But what I’m talking about here are five bands who had the possibility, however slight, of achieving real recognition (mainstream or otherwise), real status, without sacrificing their integrity or identity, but for whom it never quite “happened”. Continue reading »

Apr 082013

(TheMadIsraeli turns in this review of the new album by a revitalized Killswitch Engage.)

I’m going to be getting back to the br00tz here in a minute, but we need to take a moment and reflect on an album I think would be a shame to go on without mentioning here.

Everyone should know who Killswitch Engage are by now; they’ve become something of a household name and are the flag bearers of the early metalcore movement.  I’ve written about KSE once before, when I started my series on my top 20 albums of all time and covered the band’s acclaimed and treasured sophomore effort Alive or Just Breathing.  That album, as well as the band’s lesser known S/T debut, had energy, passion, and (at the time) a fresh combination of sounds that really served as a gateway into metal for thousands of listeners.  In my case, metalcore was what really motivated me to explore the spectrum of metal, due to the diversity its early proponents incorporated into their sounds.

Killswitch Engage have had an uneven career since the departure of original vocalist Jesse Leech.  Not only did they lose an iconic modern-metal front man, the replacement they acquired (Howard Jones) left much to be desired in the eyes of many fans who had been around since the self-titled debut.  As one of the people who were really disappointed with Jones, I can tell you that in comparison to Leech, many early fans felt he was technically excellent but lacking in the raw power, intensity, and commitment conveyed by Leech’s vocals. Continue reading »

Jan 302013

I got into metal relatively late in my life. Not long after I started, metalcore began to emerge, and then melodic metalcore took off like a rocket, with me hitching a ride on the sound. Killswitch Engage were one of the bands firing the boosters, and their early albums became personal favorites. Time passed and the rocket’s ascent stalled, reaching no further heights and merely circling in a stable and eventually degrading orbit. My own interest waned considerably and I jumped off the ride, moving on to other (more extreme) things.

But, perhaps more from a feeling of nostalgia than anything else, I’ve been interested in hearing what the revamped Killswitch Engage have done with their new album Disarm the Descent, their first release since original vocalist Jesse Leach rejoined the line-up last year. The album is due for release by Roadrunner on April 2, 2013, with the first single — “In Due Time” — scheduled for release on February 5.

Yesterday that single debuted on Kerrang Radio (here), and it didn’t take long for a radio rip to appear on YouTube [UPDATE: KSE have now posted an official stream of the song in better quality sound]. There is nothing groundbreaking about the song. It follows the well-defined blueprint of the metalcore genre. Yet there is mediocre and bad metalcore and there is good metalcore, and this sounds pretty damned good to me (though I suspect the tug of nostalgia is having something to do with my reaction). Continue reading »

Jan 112013

(A post in which Andy Synn presents five of his favorite mondegreens . . .)

This edition comes with a warning. If you want to continue hearing these songs in the ‘Correct’ way, don’t click the jump to the main article, because what I’m covering here today are the sort of misheard lyrics that essentially ruin a song for you forever. Ok, maybe not ruin, but they definitely stick with you. Once you’ve heard them, you can’t un-hear them.

And I’m not talking about the youtube-style ‘Boat Rudder’ or ‘Fishmaster’ parodies where someone’s posited ludicrous alternative lyrics. I’m talking about just a tiny line here or there that I accidentally misheard the first time round, and have never really been able to shake. Thankfully each of these also gives rise to some unintentional hilarity, as they definitely add a new interpretation to each of the tracks!

Some of them are literally only a one-word change, but that’s enough to completely alter the meaning of the surrounding lines, mostly in a rather ludicrous way!

Again – don’t go any further unless you want some songs ruined for you forever! Continue reading »

Nov 122012

(NCS writer BadWolf interviewed Jesse Leach, who was the original vocalist of Killswitch Engage and returned to the band this year after a decade-long separation, following the departure of vocalist Howard Jones. In 2011, he recorded an album under the name Times of Grace with Killswitch bandmate Adam Dutkiewicz.  Killswitch are now in the midst of an anniversary tour, with a new album on the way.)


This interview appears courtesy of the Toledo City Paper.

It’s been a long journey for Jesse Leach in the past ten years. Shortly after recording the vocals on Killswitch Engage’s sophomore LP, Alive or Just Breathing, he parted ways with the band, citing vocal cord and emotional difficulties.

Alive or Just Breathing turned out to be a classic. The late-career revivals of Carcass, At The Gates, and melodic death metal as a whole, probably had a lot to do with Killswitch re-introducing the genre in an Americanized context. To this day, new bands use its basic structure of melody, hardcore beats, and good cop/bad cop vocals, as a template.

After his triumphant run on the short Times of Grace tour, Leach is back in Killswitch, and the band is about to embark on an anniversary tour, playing Alive or Just Breathing from end to end. After ten years of struggle, things might be looking up for Boston’s most unlucky screamer. As he said to me: everything happens for a reason.

The deck turns around. Continue reading »

Feb 072012

(Yesterday, a new splash-page photo greeted visitors to the official web page of Killswitch Engage — part of which you will see after the jump in this post. It shows a new figure front-and-center in the line-up, Jesse Leach apparently back in the fold. So, it’s fitting that today we’re launching TheMadIsraeli’s series on his all-time favorite albums with this post on a record by Jesse Leach-fronted Killswitch Engage.)

This is the beginning. This will be my Top 20 albums of all time.  Yes, an all-time list — the bane of any music lover, including me, but I cannot deny the effect that certain albums have had on me.  Whether because of their musical merit or more personal connections, I’ve never been able to drop these 20. No other albums in recent memory, no matter how good, have come close to knocking these off their pedestals.

I originally chose from a pool of 50, and from among those I’ve had  a list of 20 planned out for a while, though a few of those have changed as I’ve thought more about it (although the majority have been forever constant).

It’s fitting that I should start the series with this album on this day, given the recent signs that KSE’s original vocalist Jesse Leach has returned to the band. For me and many others, that’s a sign of hope that Killswitch Engage will finally rise back up to metalcore prominence.  Maybe it won’t, maybe I’m just nostalgia-driven at the moment. We’ll see.

When Alive Or Just Breathing emerged in 2002, I had just made my official transition into metalhood.  I had abandoned my shameful nu metal past and adopted the ways of the brutal and the fast.  The first two metal albums I ever bought (at the same time no less) were Slayer’s Reign In Blood and In Flames’ Whoracle.  This was around 2001-2002, I can’t remember exactly.  What is important is that the metalcore movement was about to take its first steps into prominence. Continue reading »