A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Question Everything – Inspiration From Killswitch Engage and Jesse Leach

After overdosing on the new Protest the Hero album “Volition” for some reason the last song “Skies” got me thinking about Killswitch Engage. So out come the headphones and on goes the new album “Disarm the Descent.” I haven’t listened to it since about July. Our favourites don’t last long in the times of today. With so much new music coming out, we move on very quickly. As Jesse Leach pointed out recently in an interview with Lithium Magazine, the title is a creative way of saying redemption or rising again.

“You’re in a state of your life where you’re approaching rock bottom and you find a way to pick yourself up again before you hit the floor.”

I came to Killswitch Engage late. I didn’t listen to their first three albums. The only song I heard was “My Last Serenade” back in 2004 and that was via a bass player friend. However at that time, nothing really connected with me and that was it. There was no urge to commit to the band for me.

Fast forward a few years and the “Guitar World” issue arrived in the mailbox. I don’t recall which month; however it was a magazine from 2007. At that time the magazine still came with a DVD of bonus content. One of the bonuses was a lesson from the Killswitch guitarists on how to play “My Curse” and after watching it, I was hooked.

So I asked my bass player friend to burn me all of their albums, which he did. At the time, I had no idea that vocalists changed, which after hearing “Alive or Just Breathing” in 2007, I realised that the tones of the vocalists didn’t match up. So what do we do when we need information? We Google. We click on Wikipedia. In addition, “My Last Serenade” suddenly mattered. The song sucker punched me and I was hooked. The timing was right in 2007, for Killswitch Engage to enter my life on a full time basis.

By the time, their 2009 self-titled album came out; I was purchasing it without even listening to a single note. As a bonus their back catalogue was on special at the time, so I picked them up as well and added the official releases to my collection. That is why I always say that no metrics can ever measure the reach or pull of a band at the time of a release.

Of course, sales data can show what is in demand at a certain point in time; however the reach and the popularity of a certain band or a certain album cannot be properly measured until years later. Remember that history is written by the winners. In music, the winners are the artists or bands that outlast the competition.

Going back to the different singers, since Jesse’s split with the band, he kept busy with other projects, like the stoner-rock outfit “Seemless” and the metalcore/hard-core influenced “The Empire Shall Fall”. During this period, he also appeared with Killswitch Engage, performing the track “My Last Serenade” alongside Howard Jones at the Roadrunner United concert in 2005.

Then in 2011, I was blown away by “Times of Grace”. Everything about that album connected with me on so many different levels. I saw “Times Of Grace” open up for “Machine Head” at the Uni Roundhouse in Sydney in February 2012. Adam Dutkiewicz had his leg in some form of a support cast and he still went ballistic on stage, commenting frequently that “Aussie girls are hot.”

In relation to “Times Of Grace”, I could hear the regret in some of the songs. When Jesse jumped ship from Killswitch he was fighting a pretty serious depression. He had just gotten married and he couldn’t deal with being on the road all the time and away from his new family.

Songs like, “Fall From Grace (my best song on the album)”, “The Forgotten One”, “Hymn Of A Broken Man”, “In The Arms Of Mercy” and “Where The Spirit Leads Me” capture the more personal side of Jesse Leach. I remember reading in an interview in the “Revolver” April/May issue with Jesse mentioning that at the time of leaving Killswitch he was “broken and unconfident”.

So when Killswitch Engage announced that Jesse Leach is the vocalist again, I was more than pleased. His redemption was complete. When Jesse left Killswitch Engage the album he worked on “Alive Or Just Breathing” was just another album in a burgeoning metalcore scene that helped to kick start the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement.

Today, “Alive or Just Breathing” is seen as a classic. I always state that music is all about creating great music now so that it is recognised later for its greatness. As an artist grows their body of work takes on a new life of its own. It takes a while for something to be assimilated. Artists or bands have to hang in there long enough until they get their turn, getting better while they wait and releasing quality music.

“In Due Time” was the lead-off single.

“All that we suffer through leads to determination
The trials we all go through gives us the strength to carry on 

Something within us burns, desire feeds the will to live
A reason to believe I will see redemption”

As the chorus lyrics go, in due time, the shadows will gave way to the light. You just need to be patient and resilient. The words could even reference Jesse’s redemption to Killswitch and the knowledge that he had to go through all these trials so that he could come back a better person.

“A Tribute To The Fallen” has that hook that resonates. In my view this song should have led the album.

“With a new dawn we rise in renewed strength
Knowing we’ve just begun to fight this war within”

Think about all the crap that is going on in our democratic nations. Governments are spying on their own people. The Corporations and their lobby groups drive legislation. Government granted monopolies like the copyright industry are doing their best to kill innovation and when that fails, insert the corporations and their lobby groups. Transparency is promised however it doesn’t exist. Every communication is suddenly classified. Enables of pirated goods get more jail time than actual criminal offenders.

“New Awakening” has the legend behind it about how Jesse blew his voice while he was recording it in the studio. After the Doctor told him about the strain on the vocal chords, Jesse saw it as a badge of honour.

“There is more to life than this
We are more than just this flesh
We are alive and our time has come
For a new awakening”

It’s the Killswitch revolution. Killswitch wants you. Where do i sign? I’m all in.

“You Don’t Bleed For Me” connects with me because it more or less sums up our politicians and how even though they are voted in by the people, they do not work for the people. Of course there are the rare ones who do their best to speak for the people but in the end money wins the game.

“Fly your flag of righteousness
When underneath it is deviousness, it is greed and lies
Don’t pretend to know me you martyr of disgrace
With your plastic smile
I don’t believe a word you say
You don’t speak for me
You don’t bleed, you don’t bleed
You don’t bleed for me”

The closer “Time Will Not Remain”.

“None of us should be thought of as anything less than a potential to change the world”

What a lyric and what a statement. That is the reason why Jesse Leach’s return means so much to Killswitch Engage and to metal fans in general. He never stopped being who he was. He was not corrupted by the modern era. He questions social norms and ideals. He questions the crap our politicians and news outlets throw at us. He questions everything. The great vocalists always have something to say.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Metal Music and Piracy

Dave Mustaine from Megadeth was asked the question “What do you think about the state of the music industry right now with all of the changes that have been made?” when he appeared on That Metal Show (S12:Ep5)

“This generation has grown up to believe that music should be free. We focus on the live shows now. People are very song-focused now.”

While I disagree with David’s assessment that this generation has grown up to believe that music should be free, I do agree with his other comment that people are song focused and that the bands focus should always be on the live show.

This generation is a product of their times. The medium of the times is the Internet. This generation has grown up with the internet. This generation has grown up on quality. Dave Mustaine in the same interview was asked to rate his top 5 Megadeth albums. Guess which albums made his top 5.

1. Countdown To Extinction
2. Rust In Peace
3. Peace Sells
4. Killing Is My Business
5. So Far, So Good, So What

This is Dave Mustaine saying that his best work is in the first five Megadeth albums.

Scott Rockenfield (from Queensryche) was also asked the same question.

“Records are different these days, they are good calling cards for us to continue our legacy. Bands can’t earn a lot of money in record sales anymore. We started out as a live band. A lot of new bands don’t have that.”

No one wants to wait two years for a 14 song record with three or four good songs. We want more songs on a regular basis and we want quality.
The internet allows the bands to do this as the distribution costs are zero.

Record song, upload and share.

If the song is great, the fans will market it for free. That is the way the game is played today. Instead you still have artists thinking that they should record many songs, hype up their release, spend money on a scorched earth marketing policy and then release the product so that people can buy it. It’s all wrong.

As an artist you want your creations to live forever. For that to happen, people need to share the songs, talk about them, do derivative versions and make a connection.

This brings me to artists who just have it all wrong, when it comes to their views on the current state of the music business.

Scott Ian said that people should lose their connection because they share his recorded music. I listened to Worship Music on YouTube. I didn’t download it and I didn’t pay a cent for it. You can say that I unofficially streamed it, since YouTube is the first streaming platform that the entertainment business tried to shut down unsuccessfully.

As far as I’m concerned I went onto a legal site and listened to the music. So based on Ian’s interpretation of the law, the internet connection of the people that went on to YouTube to listen to the album has to be suspended (as we stole it) along with the Anthrax fan who put it up.

The Recording Business is just an arm of the Music Business, that is trying in vain to hold on to its old business models. No one wakes up in the morning, thinking they need to buy a CD. We wake up in the morning, thinking we need to hear this song.

Doc Coyle from God Forbid summed it up in a post on the Metal Sucks website;

“We seem to think people want CDs or books or DVDs as individual items to own and keep, but the truth is, what we really want is the content contained on these capsules of information. The CD, DVD and book are just messengers for the experience contained therein.”

I am going through an issue of Hot Metal from May 1993. As soon as I open the magazine, there is a two page advertisement for the release of AnthraxSound of White Noise. One page has the album cover art and the second page has the heading, RESERVE YOUR COPY OF ANTHRAX’S NEW ALBUM “SOUND OF WHITE NOISE” AT THE FOLLOWING IDN STORES.

Back then we needed to buy CD’s so that we could hear the music. If they said we needed to buy a stereo that plays unlimited music, we would have.

Speaking of buying:
Black Sabbath had week three sales of 25,300 and week four sales of 16,942. (U.S. sales)

It is doing the same decline as other rock/metal artists like Skillet.

Metal bands need to take a leaf from the Imagine Dragons playbook. This band has entered the Top 10 again with sales of 33,223 for its Night Visions album.

Think about that. Imagine Dragons has been selling for 44 weeks. It has sold more in its 44th week than a Black Sabbath album in its 4th week. The last couple of weeks has seen a resurgence for the band. Why? The band is touring.

People are talking about the shows and they are buying the music. Some people might see it as strange that people went to a rock show without owning a physical copy of the music.

These are the times we live in. These are the times that artists need to live in.

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