Killswitch Engage - Alive Or Just Breathing (Cover Artwork)

Killswitch Engage

Alive Or Just Breathing (2002)


Lately, many releases follow a set formula and bands do a lot more than just wear their influences on their hoodies. Really, why bother listening to a CD case-full of bands that sound more similar than unique? For those looking to escape the monotony that so much punk has to offer, here is the Roadrunner Records debut by Killswitch Engage.

Killswitch Engage formed only a couple years ago from the ashes of New England hardcore bands and immediatly made a local impact due their absolutely ferocious audio assult. Blending full-on hardcore with metal riffs and a vocalist who can go from screaming to singing instantaniously (Think Tim Williams from VOD, except with a much improved singing voice), Killswitch Engage's blend of music is a band to be reckoned with, and "Alive or Just Breathing" stands as a musical achievement.

Not only does Killswitch Engage not emulate other bands in a carbon-copy fashion, each song stands out as a seprate offering instead of one song played 12 times.

The second track, "Self Revoltion" has every ingredient a Killswitch Engage song is seasoned with; precise, powerful drumming, major shredding and killer guitar riffs, screaming verses and a beautiflly sung chorus break.

The single off of the disc, "My Last Serenade," eases in with gentle acoustic strum (a la Metallica's "Battery") before blasting off into riffs that dare you to sit still (The video just got added to some MTV rock show as well as Much Music...look for it.)

Although an extremely heavy band, Killswitch's lyrics avoid typical tough lyrics and opt for more thoughtful and positive words to accompany their music. Take "Vide Infra," one of the two re-recorded songs from their debut disc ("Temple From the Within" being the other), when it says, "I will stand up for who I am, never moved by condemnation, no one is placed higher than another, no matter race or creed or gender, we must teach compassion for all life, through understanding of our differences, we wil find respect for one another..."

The production on this CD is stellar and forces the music clear out of your speakers, destroying all in it's path. There is no bad news when it comes to this disc. Unfortunately, there is some bad news with the band. Vocalist Jesse Leach quit very recently. He has been replaced but his gifted voice will be missed.