Killswitch Engage - Killswitch Engage [reissue] (Cover Artwork)

Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage [reissue] (2005)


It goes without saying that the current state of American metal is more than diluted with by-the-numbers metal bands trying to the ride the wave to financial success. What's worse, and even more disheartening, is the fact that many of the bands who pioneered this trend of "metalcore" are remaining just as stagnant as their trendy protégé. With losing their original vocalist and lyricist Jesse Leach, and subsequently all credibility along with, Killswitch Engage is no exception. Not only have they stuck to the status quo musically, but the band doesn't seem to mind taking several more steps backwards thanks to their vomit-inducing lyrical abominations courtesy of Leach's cheeseball replacement, Howard Jones. Those who have been keeping track, however, remember better times since passed.

Let's rewind to around the turn of the century. Nü-metal was, finally, crawling on its belly and bands like Shadows Fall, Unearth and Killswitch Engage were blazing the heavy music trail with what was being called the new wave of American metal. With a no-gimmicks approach to blending hardcore with traditional thrash metal it was no surprise that such bands were a breath of fresh air. Killswitch Engage's pioneering contribution came in the form of this, their 2000 self-titled release.

With that out of the way, I am finally making it to the actual review. Sorry, dear ADD reader, but I felt it important. This is not exactly the previously mentioned debut but a remastered version thanks to the band's own Adam Dutkiewicz that was released in 2005. While this newly beefed up production helps in most regards, I feel that they still did not get it 100% right. The guitars are certainly pushed to the maximum here but to the sacrifice of the cymbal work. Remember the original recording where the cymbals, especially ride, were maybe a little loud? Well, I think Dutkiewicz overcompensated here with songs like "Rusted Embrace" really losing some of its original charm. Some of the softer and spoken vocals now seem a little out of place as well, sometimes having that big echo-filled room effect that was not present in the original release.

That being said, this is not a terrible reissue. It is not bogged down with useless live versions and a "re-master" that simply had the volume of the original mix turned up. Dutkiewicz certainly tried his best here to match the perfect production of the band's followup, Alive or Just Breathing. Most importantly, however, is the fact that he kept the original vocal track by Leach instead of ruining it with a new one by Howard Jones. Another nice touch is the inclusion of the band's only other earlier release: their 1999 four-song demo.

I would recommend picking this up if you are both as infatuated with the band's early work as I am and simultaneously disgusted with what they have allowed themselves to become. It's a fresh listen that took me back to the days of a pre-scenester and simultaneously redneck-filled fanbase where Adam D. and his unfunny antics were hidden behind the drum kit where he clearly belongs. Just remember that this is still the breathtaking album it was and always will be even if the production is still not 100% perfect.