Killswitch Engage is a heavy metal band from Westfield, Massachusetts that are known as being one of the main founders of the subgenre of metalcore. The band was formed by former members of Overcast and Aftershock including Adam Dutkiewicz (drums), Mike D’Antonio (bass), Joel Stroetzl (guitar), and Jesse Leach (vocals). This original lineup is best known for releasing Alive Or Just Breathing in 2002 which is known as the benchmark metalcore album.
After releasing their initial demo in 1999, the band signed with Ferret Music and released their debut album Killswitch Engage in 2000. The album contained the classic songs “Soilborn”, “Irreversal” and “Temple From Within”. The album sparked interest from Roadrunner Records executives who wanted to make the band the next “Pantera”. Knowing that they needed help with distribution, the band accepted a deal from Roadrunner in late 2000.
The band’s second release, the metalcore classic, Alive Or Just Breathing was their first album for Roadrunner. It contains the popular tracks “Fixation On The Darkeness” and “My Last Serenade”. A music video for the latter gained the band a decent amount of mainstream exposure. The critical reviews of the album were highly positive
Shortly after the release of the album, Dutkiewicz moved to guitar and Tom Gomes formerly of Aftershock took over on drums making the band a five piece. During the recording of Alive Or Just Breathing, lead singer Jesse Leach would become discouraged with the recording of his vocals wanting to make things absolutely perfect. Leach had always been one to put a lot of pressure on himself and that pressure would finally get to him. When the band began touring in 2002, Leach became depressed and quit the band through an email to the other members angering a couple members of the band. Philip Labonte of All That Remains would help the band finish out their tour.
Immediately after touring, the band began auditioning singers. The guys initially asked Howard Jones of the mathcore act Blood Has Been Shed to take over on vocal duties. In later interviews, Jones has stated that he was reluctant at first because he felt the band wasn’t heavy enough or quite his style. Philip Labonte would then audition and come close to taking over on vocals, until Jones finally called and accepted the position. The band toured heavily until 2003 when Tom Gomes left the band. He was quickly replaced by Jones’ former band mate Justin Foley.
The first album with Jones on vocals was 2003’s The End of Heartache. While the album was still metalcore, it deviated quite a bit from the styles of the first two records. The clean vocals were much more prominent and it had a much more mainstream, cleanly produced sound. However, the result was their first gold record and a lot of mainstream critical praise. The album contained the singles “Rose of Sharyn” and “The End of Heartache” which was featured on the Resident Evil: Apocalypse soundtrack helping to garner even more exposure for the band. The band also released an extended version of the labum with live renditions of “My Last Serenade” and “Fixation on the Darkness”, a less heavy alternate version of “The End of Heartache” and a re-recording of “Irreversal” with Jones on vocals.
Once again the band toured heavily through 2005, even playing for a time without founding member and producer Adam Dutkiewicz because of chronic back issues. Dutkiewicz returned in 2006 and the band entered the studio to record their fourth album As Daylight Dies. The album was released in November of 2006. Once again the album received a lot of mainstream attention and critical praise and was certified gold in 2007. The album features the popular singles “My Curse” and “The Arms of Sorrow”, which both had less heavy radio versions. The special edition of the record was also released in 2007 featuring the band’s excellent cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver”.
In 2007, Dutkiewicz’s back issues would return while on tour in Europe requiring emergency surgery. He was replaced on some tour dates with Pat Lachman from Damageplan. He tried to reture mid year, but again had to leave to concentrate on his physical therapy. The band’s guitar technician would help them fulfill the rest of their tour dates.
Dutkiewicz once again returned in 2008 and the band began recording their fifth album, once again titled Killswitch Engage. It was released in June 2009 to mixed reviews. Many felt that the band had become a bit too formulaic and that Dutkiewicz’s production was a bit lacking. The vocals on the album were much more melodic than prior records and the guitar work was heavily subdued. Despite this, it was the band’s highest charting album to that point.
In 2010, Philip Labonte would assume vocals for the band on tour because of rumored back pain for lead singer Howard Jones. In March of 2010 Jesse Leach would also sing on some of the tour dates. Rumors would swirl about dissension in the ranks, but the band announced in 2011 that they had begun writing for their next album. Killswitch planned to enter the studio in early 2012, but then in January it was announced that Jones had left the band. His reasoning was health issues and no longer being enthusiastic about writing and touring with the band. Rumors surfaced again that Labonte would finally get his chance to take over vocals, but by this time his band All That Remains had a pretty large following of their own.
The band finally announced in February of 2012 that original vocalist Jesse Leach would return on vocals. The band toured and wrote new material for the release of their sixth album, Disarm the Descent in April 2013 featuring the single “In Due Time” . The album saw a return to their heavier metalcore roots with many feeling that the album was their best since 2002. It debuted at #7 on the Billboard charts, the highest debut of any of their records to date. The band has garnered a large following and continue to tour heavily to the delight of their fans.
- Killswitch Engage (2000)
- Alive Or Just Breathing (2002)
- The End of Heartache (2004)
- As Daylight Dies (2006)
- Killswitch Engage (2009)
- Disarm the Descent (2013)
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