Blogs Of War: Don’t Be A Jesse Person Or A Howard Person. Be A Killswitch Engage Person

Posted: January 29, 2014 in Metalhammer
Tags: , ,

Killswitch Engage: back on form

Merl explains why picking a side when it comes to Killswitch Engage is a big ol’ waste of time.

Many people at Download in 2012 will tell you that the defining moment of the festival – perhaps even of the summer or of 2012 itself – was seeing Tony Iommi walk out on stage, shit-eating grin on his face, tens of thousands of teary-eyed fanatics in front of him, witnessing him launch into Black Sabbath and seemingly bring the sun itself down on Donington with some of the most gorgeous, soulful and, of course, heaviest riffs ever written. Let’s be fair: those people were probably right. You can’t really fuck with moments like that.*

For me personally, however, and I’d like to think for a good few other metal fans around my age as well, there was a another, perhaps slightly glossed over moment from that weekend that stood out. On the Saturday afternoon, over on the second stage in a slot that they’d be more likely to command on the main stage in any other year, Killswitch Engage walked out to begin their first ever UK show with Jesse Leach.

What followed was, quite simply, a breathtaking reminder of just why Killswitch Engage are one of the most important metal bands of the 21st century and, more importantly, just what made us all fall in love with them in the first place. More fired up than they’ve been in years and with a singer back in front of them who was clearly in love with what he was doing, it was one of the defining triumphs of the summer, a certified life-affirmer for those of us who picked up Alive Or Just Breathing just over a decade ago and were never quite the same again.

“Ah, so you’re a Jesse guy!” I can imagine some people now proclaiming happily or in disgust, depending on your viewpoint. No, I am not a Jesse guy. Part of the reason that that Download set was so wonderful to watch was being able to see a supremely talented frontman inject another supremely talented frontman’s songs with a new and, I think it’s fair to argue, much-needed burst of passion and heartfelt energy. While AOJB was my baptism of all things Killswitch, The End Of Heartache is clearly even more important to the band and the legacy they have created. And, let it not be forgotten, while the albums that bore them were not quite as impactful, tracks like My Curse, This Is Absolution, The Arms Of Sorrow and, of course, that Dio cover have become as equally and deservedly hailed in the Killswitch canon.

“Oh, so you’re actually a Howard guy!” No, I am not a Howard guy, either. I am not a Howard guy or a Jesse guy. I am a Killswitch Engage guy. I’m not delighted to have Jesse back simply because I didn’t adore much of the “Howard era”. If you hear someone offering an opinion along those lines, chances are they were never a big Killswitch fan to start with and are now simply jumping on the “JESSE’S BACK!” bandwagon for the sake of having an opinion. Fuck those guys.

Neither, however, do I think that Howard could have realistically been involved in an album as powerful, driven and emotionally affecting as Disarm The Descent – plainly the best work the band have produced since …Heartache, even if not quite in the same league as that incredible album or its predecessor. Anyone being totally honest with themselves will admit that Howard looked, to be nice about it, a tad disinterested in his final Killswitch days – the same of which, lest we forget, could have been said about Jesse’s attitude to the band before he originally left the fold.

That Download set wasn’t important because it cast a defining victory in any juvenile, unnecessary arguments over who is ultimately the superior Killswitch Engage singer. Those arguments do nothing for anyone except divide fans, split hairs and provide free facepalms for all. That set was important because it showed a legendary band that was back, doing what they love, and clearly loving it more than they had in quite some time. It rammed home the fact that Killswitch Engage are fucking amazing, and that, whoever is in front of them, it is us lucky sods that ultimately benefit the most.

This week, Killswitch return to the UK. It’s over a decade since he was originally supposed to make his UK bow**, and I reckon it’s a fairly safe bet that he’ll be making up for lost time. If he stays with the guys for the next ten years, that’s outstanding. If he buggers off after two albums and they fancy getting Howard back again, that’s fine too! You know why? Because on their day, they’re two of the best metal singers in the business. So just think how fucking brilliant that makes Killswitch Engage. See you at the front, yeah?


*It’s also worth noting that I was fortunate enough to be at Sabbath’s intimate Birmingham show one month earlier, so I’m basically being a showy-offy industry bell-end, here.

 **(On the Roadrunner Roadrage 2003 tour. Remember those? WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT FIVE POINTE O?!)

Killswitch Engage/Trivium UK Tour Dates

Sat 1st Feb – Academy, MANCHESTER
Sun 2nd Feb – O2 Academy, LONDON Brixton
Mon 3rd Feb – O2 Academy, NEWCASTLE
Tue 4th Feb – O2 Academy, GLASGOW
Thu 6th Feb – O2 Academy, BIRMINGHAM
Fri 7th Feb – Guildhall, SOUTHAMPTON


from Metal Hammer
via Merlin


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