Killswitch Engage’s album Alive Or Just Breathing is more than a game changing album, it’s a metal masterpiece. I had heard the songs “Fixation On The Darkness” and “My Last Serenade” before I heard the whole album but, when I started with track one, I knew a shift was coming in heavy music. “Numbered Days” is one hell of an opening track. Musically it’s heavy and melodic in all the right spots. Lyrically and vocally it’s powerful and gritty along with a generous helping of positivity. It’s one of those perfect album starters. The sing alongs over the years when they play this song live is so much fun to watch and listen to. It’s also interesting to hear Jesse Leach sing this song as well as Howard Jones. Both have such a commanding presence and voice that the message echoes quite loudly!
Since their album Alive Or Just Breathing, I’ve been a fan of Killswitch Engage. Their original singer Jesse Leach has one of the best voices in heavy music. His lyrics stretch beyond the generic norm of what everyone writes. After he left and was replaced by Howard Jones, Killswitch went on to further success and released a great album in The End Of Heartache. Although the albums that followed weren’t as good as their first two, they were still scattered with some really great songs. A couple years back Jesse came back to the band and their album Disarm The Descent was a great comeback. So here is a ranking of their albums from not the best to their best.
I’ve mentioned before that heavy music has many genres. Some are beyond hard to explain, and some really are simple. In the early 2000’s “METALCORE” landed on the map and a huge statement was made with the release of Alive or Just Breathing. This album is viewed as a defining moment for the genre and was well praised upon its release and to this day. One of the main bright spots of this album are the lyrics. Rather than harp of the negativity of life, the lyrics were aimed to bring a positive message through the music. Musically there is a well woven web of hardcore riffs, thrash riffs, and melodic sensibilities. all these intangibles created a sonically invigorating album. Songs like opener “Numbered Days,” Fixation On The Darkness,” “My Last Serenade,” “Life To Lifeless,” “Just Barely Breathing,” and the fantastic closer “Rise Inside” are all absolute standouts. Actually the entire album start to finish is a gem.
It must be said that Jesse Leach’s vocals on this album are beyond outstanding. His ability to roar then go into such delicate melodic singing is baffling. Guitar wise Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel play off each other extremely well. Each of their tones are just a little bit different, but brought into the mix wonderfully. Mike D’Antonio has a crunchy yet clean bass tone the balances out the clean tones coming from the guitars. The drums on the album were played by Adam Dutkiewicz, and they provide a great back drop for the pace of the songs and the album.
Jesse Leach is one of my favorite singers that have come about in the last 10 years. He really has a unique voice that is passionate and driving. The way he conveys his words in the songs is hypnotic almost. I truly wonder what the next album would have sounded like had Jesse stayed. Thankfully, Jesse is back and their most recent album Disarm The Descent is a powerful statement of his return.