Metalcore was the hot new thing at one point. From the late 1990s bands started to appear from the USA with a raw, heavy and catchy sound. These garage bands started out small, but like any movement in music, became something much bigger. The angry lyrics about normal things spoke out to teenagers full of angst, just as nu-metal did before it. People of the early 2000s were treated to some great metal. Metal that, to this day, is being imitated. Metalcore is oft aped, but if there’s one band that stands out as the true pioneers of the scene it is Killswitch Engage.
The band from Massachusetts took five years before they garnered a large following, and had swapped vocalist Jesse Leach for Howard Jones. The rest, they say, is history. This is band known just as much for their brutality as their catchy choruses. Each track is spun on the ever solid foundations of a brilliant riff. The band’s sound is accessible across a huge cross-section of the metal community, thus the success they’ve had over the years. They’re a great band, and one of my favourites, but what album is the best? What’s the worst? Read on to find out.
7. Killswitch Engage (2009)
Howard Jones had made a name for himself as one of the best metal vocalists around with his time in Killswitch Engage, but the band’s second self-titled record (and Jones’ last) is unfortunately their weakest. It’s not a bad album, but it feels too safe. It’s a worse, less heavy version of As Daylight Dies.
6. Killswitch Engage (2000)
The band’s debut record is more raw than anything they’ve released since. It’s probably a little heavier, too. The band’s catchiness wasn’t quite there. Often a band’s debut album finds the them still finding their feet. 2000’s Killswitch Engage is great fun, but not quite the Killswitch we know and love these days.
Killswitch’s latest record took what they did in Disarm the Descent and perfected it. There’s not too much new about the album, but Incarnate is very enjoyable nonetheless. Almost every track here has been stuck in my head at one time or another. It does everything you want from a Killswitch Engage record and does it very well.
4. Disarm the Descent
Jesse Leach marked his return to the band with a heavy, faster record than Killswitch had been making with Howard Jones. Disarm the Descent took the band back to their early days and I loved it. The Hell in Me, In Due Time and No End in Sight are classics in the metalcore genre. This record is very good, and features that raw sound I loved from Leach’s stuff, it’s a shame that the mix wasn’t as good as the band’s has been before and since.
3. As Daylight Dies
Everyone knows this record, or at least, My Curse. Jones’ second album wasn’t quite as excellent as his first, but still stands as one of metalcore’s finest moments. If I wasn’t responding to anything back in 2006, it was probably because I was listening to As Daylight Dies for the 300th time. It’s heavy, sing-along stuff that anyone can enjoy – such a great record.
2. The End of Heartache
Howard Jones’ first record with the band is spectacular. It’s really heavy stuff, darker than a lot of their other stuff. For most people The End of Heartache is the best the band has ever done, and I can see why. Each track is a classic in its own right, but the album as a whole flows incredibly well. What self-respecting metal fan hasn’t heard this record? No one, that’s who. Utterly essential listening.
1. Alive or Just Breathing
The band’s second album is just a little better than The End of Heartache. Alive or Just Breathing built on the foundations of Killswitch’s self-titled debut (it even shared a couple of tracks) and smashed it. Still to this day, Alive or Just Breathing is the perfect Killswitch record. It’s brutal, catchy and oh so enjoyable. My Last Serenade and Fixation on the Darkness are two of the best metal tracks ever written, and I still listen to them on repeat, 15 years later. I have so much love for this record, and always will do.