About Killswitch Engage
No shortcuts. No compromises. No BS. From their modest beginnings in New England’s hardcore scene to their current status as one of the most influential and inspirational forces in modern music, Killswitch Engage have played by these three simple rules. With their new, fourth album, As Daylight Dies, KsE are proving that if you keep playing the game your way, you’ll eventually change the rules for everyone else.
“We never consciously went out of our way to be different,” guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz says from the band’s home base in Westfield, Massachusetts. ” When we started this band, we just wanted to play cool riffs and scream and sing. We liked many different sounds so we tried to incorporate all these rock and pop styles while keeping a good, solid metal mentality.” Eleven songs strong, As Daylight Dies isn’t just a testament to the band’s original vision it’s also their strongest fusion of aggression, melody, rock and metal to date.
In hindsight, the potential for crossover success was there as early as 1998, when, after the breakup of his influential genre-crossing metal/hardcore unit Overcast, bassist Mike D’Antonio teamed up with Aftershock members Dutkiewicz (then on drums) and guitarist Joel Stroetzel, and singer Jesse Leach to form the earliest incarnation of KsE. With their Ferret Music debut album creating a major underground buzz, the group got the attention of Roadrunner Records, which signed KsE to a worldwide recording deal and released the ir 2002 sophomore full-length, Alive or Just Breathing.
Equal parts melody and brutality, Alive found Killswitch shooting to No. 37 on the Billboard’s Heatseeker Chart and storming metal radio while winning press accolades from publications as diverse as CMJ New Music Report and Alternative Press. And while the next year would see highs (breakout headlining tours) and lows (the departure of Leach in 2002 and drummer Tom Gomes in 2003), the eventual addition of Howard Jones (vocals) and Justin Foley (drums) from New England heavyweights Blood Has Been Shed would push KsE to the proverbial next level.
Released in 2004, debuting at #21 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart, The End Of Heartache was the sound of a band reinvigorated, with Jones’ powerful vocal dynamics and Foley’s jazz-trained percussive skills only amplifying the rhythmic assault and melodic range at KsE’s core. Fans and the media alike were floored. The album, which Rolling Stone described as “Stunning” and Spin declared “Badass” landed KsE their first-ever Grammy nomination. It is now currently pushing near-Gold-certified status in the U.S. “Out of all the attention we got from that record, the Grammy thing was the biggest mind-blower,” Dutkiewicz recalls with a chuckle. ” It’s kind of like finally getting your diploma – or I guess in our case, almost getting your diploma.”
As Killswitch Engage’s profile increased, so did the band’s reputation as a fearsome live act. Besides a plethora of headlining dates supporting Heartache, the band was main support for Slayer in 2004, made their second Ozzfest appearance as one of 2005’s second-stage headliners, and that same year helped anchor the inaugural Taste of Chaos tour where they shattered musical barriers nightly alongside My Chemical Romance and The Used. Additionally, the band entered the late night TV world performing their hit singles ” The End of Heartache ” and ” Rose of Sharyn ” on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Last Call with Carson Daly respectively. Recently the band completed their latest round of major festival dates overseas, including a Main Stage performance alongside Pearl Jam at Reading Festival in the UK. Jokes Dutkiewicz, they ” needed binoculars to see the front row.” With As Daylight Dies completed, KsE are looking forward to getting up close and personal with fans during their upcoming headlining run. “Those [intimate] gigs are where we really come alive,” Dutkiewicz says. “We love being right up there in kids’ faces, where we can just reach out and kick &lsquoem. We love connecting and a making a difference in their lives.”
Killswitch Engage have been putting their stamp on the music world and inspiring bands for years. Bassist Mike D’Antonio is also a graphic artist, designing album covers, t-shirts and logos for bands, including All That Remains, Shadows Fall, Chimaira, Cannibal Corpse, and others. Singer Howard Jones manages a few up-and-coming bands such as 12 Tribes, Bury Your Dead and August Burns Red. Dutkiewicz’s ” other ” job is that of a record producer. In addition to producing all four of KsE’s albums, he recently produced Underoath’s Define the Great Line as well as albums from the likes of Unearth and Every Time I Die. “I definitely see these side gigs as a situation where we’re all sharing ideas,” Dutkiewicz explains. “Personally, I get inspired by a lot of the bands I work with, and they get inspired by me barking orders at them.” He laughs. “Seriously, though, I’m influenced by anything I hear as musical – to me, a broken car muffler can be as inspirational as a great band, as long as it’s got a sick rhythm.”
As Daylight Dies, which offers a bold new vision for hard rock music in 2006 and beyond, was once again recorded in Massachusetts’ Zing Studios, and written relatively quickly in what Jones describes as a “total creative explosion”.
The first single, “My Curse” is a contrast of light and dark emotions with one of the tastiest, most memorable riffs heard in years, accompanied by the emotive and anguished singing of Jones. ” For You ” is pure devastation, with Foley’s off-time grooves and bass-drum work offsetting the song’s staccato riffs and snarling vocals that dissolves into a moment of complete beauty. ” The Arms Of Sorrow” sets Jones’ soaring, melodic singing against a powerhouse backdrop of machine-gun guitar work and percussive brutality. “Desperate Times” unfolds in cascading waves of guitar texture, its slow rhythms crushing the listener like a tank column. And the title track, its squealing leads and twin-guitar harmonies giving way to a barrage of bass-drums and jagged riffs, buries itself in your skull via Jones’ pleading, melodic chorus. It’s at once the most melodic, harmonic, darkest, heaviest and most urgent-sounding set of tunes in Killswitch’s arsenal – with Jones’ lyrics in particular serving as inspirational statements on the world outside the band’s window.
“There’s definitely some urgency in the album, and a lot of that comes from my feeling there’s so little time to do all the stuff we can to make a difference,” Jones explains. “Just look at the way the world is – it’s just hard to fathom some of the stuff that’s happening out there, some of the atrocities. As for whether this is a ‘ political’ record, it’s there in black and white – I’ll let people judge for themselves but I think if there’s any kind of statement to this record, it’s in the album title: Whether in some large or small way, it’s the idea of just trying to make a difference in your world before the day is over.”
With the members of Killswitch Engage once again raising the bar with their new release, both lyrically and musically, they prepare to tour and initiate the unitiated to their brand of music. ” We’ve really gone beyond metal with this record,” says Jones. ” We’ve obviously got metal influences, as we always have, but there’s so much melody, and so much diversity, this time around-this is just a weird, amazing little mutt of music we’re making today.”
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