I am always asked the question, how can I like a band like Killswitch Engage and then like bands like Kiss, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen at the same time? The answer is easy, I like music. I don’t care how people look, I don’t care what niche they are playing too. If the music is good and the song is good, I am interested. When I tell them that Chuck Schuldiner from Death is a song writing influence I get blank stares, like who is Chuck?
So I have been cranking the new Killswitch Engage album, Disarm the Descent on the headphones recently. I normally hear albums when they come out, and then I put them into four folders, the YEAH folder, the POTENTIAL folder and the SO SO folder. Of course the fourth folder is the TRASH.
The YEAH folder basically has albums or songs where on first listen through, grabbed my attention all the way through. The POTENTIAL folder has albums that have between four to six good songs. The SO SO folder has albums that have 1 to 3 good songs. I normally go back to the YEAH folder and those albums end up on my iPod for constant rotation.
Going back to the story, the Killswitch Engage album ended up in the YEAH folder on first listen through and the new TesserAct album Altered State will join it soon when it comes out officially. If any fans haven’t heard these albums, you can hear them in their entirety on YouTube. The TesserAct album is streamed by their label Century Media. This is interesting, as Century Media once upon a time pulled their whole catalogue from Spotify and other streaming services due to the low fraction of a cent payment per stream. The Century Media catalogue is now back in the streaming game however it looks like they are getting an additional stream income, by streaming albums before their release.
As every Killswitch fan knows, this is Jesse Leach’s comeback into the Killswitch Engage family. In my view, his comeback was set in stone by the excellent Times of Grace project that involved Adam Dutkiewicz and Jesse Leach.
I saw Times of Grace at the University of Sydney Roundhouse in 2012. It was a Machine Head gig, with Times of Grace opening, Shadows Fall on second, Chimaira was on third and then Machine Head. This was a side-show for the bands, as all of them appeared on the Soundwave Music Festival.
The touring band was Adam Dutkiewicz on guitars, Jesse Leach on vocals along with Joel Stoetzel from Killswitch Engage on guitars, Matt Bachand from Shadows Fall on bass (even though he plays guitar with Shadows Fall) and Dan Gluszak from Envy On The Coast on drums.
I am getting side tracked again. This post is about Killswitch Engage. Verdict on the album, I prefer Times of Grace.
How does the new Killswitch stack up against other 2013 metal and rock releases; This release is in my top 10 of releases for the year so far.
It’s brutal, it’s heavy and it makes me want to break stuff. It’s sorrowful, its melodic and it carries a message of power and hope. As expected, it has the usual progressive elements that Killswitch Engage are renowned for. The melodic stuff is done top-notch and Jesse Leach is exactly where he should be. No offence to Howard Jones, he sang on three brilliant Killswitch albums, however to me, it was just a matter of time before Jesse was back in the fold.
One thing is clear, Jesse is a brilliant lyric writer, so here is a selection of brilliant lyrics written by Jesse Leach.
1. Strength In Numbers – from the Times of Grace self titled album.
Our roots must balance our branches
This line speaks a million words to me. Before we branch out in our lives (this can be anything from a personal or professional viewpoint), how strong are our roots. Can our roots balance what we want to do. It’s that old saying, the foundations need to be strong before anything else can be done.
2. Fall From Grace – from the Times of Grace self titled album.
Aspirations bled dry
Eyes that once beamed with hope now only stare in remorse
Even through this pain
I will feel again
Even through these tears
I will love again
It doesn’t matter how bad it is, and how much we suffer. We still have this feeling that things will get better, that we will love again, that we will better people from the experience. It is this hope distortion field that all humans have, regardless if they believe in God or in something else. Even The End of Eternity which is from the same album has a similar theme “We are blind, our future’s crushed and forgotten, Destroyed by guilt, But there is beauty, There is life, hold fast for this could be, the end of eternity.”
Again the same message, from all the destruction of our dreams and hopes, there is still a beauty to be found, and that beauty is life. That is what no one tells you at school. Spending our younger years thinking that we are immortal, and then spending our thirties and forties as slaves to the tax system, trying to find out on what side of the income inequality gap we are on. No wonder I am on blood pressure medications. In Due Time from the new Killswitch Engage album deals with similar themes. “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.”
All the hardship and suffering we face strengthen us. Anyone that tells you they haven’t experienced hardship or suffering are lying. Our will to live gives us the desire to rise up again and again and again. The message is the same, it doesn’t matter how bad life gets, we always find to see the beauty of the day.
3. Live In Love – from the Times of Grace self titled album.
Don’t mistake kindness and compassion for weakness,
It takes so much more strength to be selfless and live in love.
Again another statement that puts a thousand different meanings into my head. I have gone out of my way to help others and all I expected back was respect. I wonder why when you show someone kindness, in time they then believe that they have the right to walk over you. There is always one or two that ruin everything. Rise Inside from the Killswitch Engage, Alive or Just Breathing album conveys the same message, “The time has come to make a difference, Why have we forsaken love, The time has come to raise our voices, So rise up and fight with me.”
This is the voice of the voiceless,
We have learned by making choices
That is the only way to grow. Make choices. Don’t be a follower, be a leader. Some choices will pay off and some will hurt. We all have a voice these days. The internet made sure of that. My Last Serenade – from the same album, also covers the same ground, with the lyrics, “Your destination is a choice within yourself, Will you rise or become a slave.”
So the next time you come across a person, complaining about their lot in life, remind them, that they are this destination, due to a choice they made once upon a time.
5. The Forgotten One – from the Times of Grace self titled album.
Lead me to the crossroad, I can find my way home
Devils on my back and angels in between
The scars and dreams that made me believe
Where’s the crime scene in remembrance to me
When our eyes meet do you know the man beneath
Walk the line between desperate and redeemed
The classic story of making a deal with the devil at the crossroads. How far will we go to make it? That is what the whole verse is about. We walk a fine line in life. We can be sinners and saints. The crime scene depends on which side of the line we fall. If we choose to betray the ones we love, so that we can get ahead, will we still see the real person inside of us, when it comes time to look into our eyes.
6. Something’s Got To Give – from the Seemless self titled album.
All your money and possessions,
They mean nothing in the span of time
Isn’t that so true. In the end we all die. We will either be buried or cremated. We live with a large income quality gap. When judgement day comes, death doesn’t discriminate. There is no death gap.