Posted by: pop-break | March 24, 2013

Garden State Headache: Killswitch Engage

bobby olivier is stoked for the band’s new record ….

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The time approaches.

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We are officially within two weeks of the official release of metalcore juggernaut Killswitch Engage’s highly anticipated new album Disarm the Descent. The record is the band’s first release with original frontman Jesse Leach in more than a decade and the group’s latest LP since summer 2009, when lovable lead singer Howard Jones was still at the helm.

In other words, it has been nearly four years since a new album and loyal fanboys like me are doing their best to contain their girlish squeals until April 2, when the record hits the (predominately online) shelves.

Two songs have been leaked by the band that will appear on the new album: “In Due Time” and “The New Awakening.” Each is strong and reminiscent of the first Jesse regime in its melodies and lyrics. But I’ll get into that more once the album is graces my sweaty hands.

For now, since the album will be released in around 10 days, here is a Top 10 list of all-time great KsE songs. For fairness, five are with Jesse, five are with Howard.

SPOILER: None are from Killswitch’s 2009 self-titled effort. Not that I didn’t like the album, but compared to the others, it doesn’t make the list.

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Here we go:

Song: “Numbered Days”
Album: Alive or Just Breathing (2002)
Why it’s #10: For many Killswitch fans, this song is where their fandom begins, so it is only fitting to kick off this list. It bats leadoff on Killswitch’s critically acclaimed debut (for all intents and purposes) and with Jesse’s opening scream “the time approaches!” it starts the listening tour of an album that defined a genre.

Song “Take This Oath”
Album:
The End of Heartache (2004)
Why it’s #9: Besides encapsulating one of the more infectious guitar riffs in the KsE catalog, “Take This Oath” is the only song to feature vocals from both Jesse, who had ex-communicated himself at this point, and then-frontman Howard. The dueling voices are epic and make for a complete and fantastic track.

Song: “Temple from the Within”
Album:
Killswitch Engage (2000)
Why it’s #8: As far as this Top 10 goes, this is likely the most obscure song, but the powerful chorus is killer and the baseline that leads into the breakdown is sensationally sludgy. Jesse’s lyrics are undeniable and as an encore favorite from both the Jesse and Howard eras, it’s a deep-cut keeper. And for the wire-to-wire fans, this track, which led KsE’s first release but was then re-released in 2002, is where the band truly started.

Song: “Breathe Life”
Album:
The End of Heartache (2004)
Why it’s #7: When it comes to empowering Killswitch, this is as good as it gets. Howard’s voice soars into the rafters during the chorus, with lyrics to lift all spirits. The refrain is the go-to on this track, but a few other moments set it apart. “Breathe Life” doesn’t sound like any other KsE song and the Adam D.’s guitar solo adds uniqueness to the whole affair. And you have to love the drum fill that kicks off the song. It’s too bad that since Jesse is back, this Howard album track likely won’t be performed live any longer.

Song: “Self Revolution”
Album:
Alive or Just Breathing (2002)
Why it’s #6: Howard will always be heralded for his compelling singing voice, but not to be outdone, Jesse’s clean vocals truly shine on this song. The whole “take back the world, see through everyone’s crap” message isn’t unique to this song, but the lyric “In this search for I and I” adds some profundity to the track. This has been and always will be one of my favorites from Alive or Just Breathing.

Song: “Rose of Sharyn”
Album:
The End of Heartache (2004)
Why it’s #5: One of Killswitch’s most popular tracks to date, a song so beloved that Jesse adopted it as part of his live repertoire, is everything that was great about the Howard era: Strong melody, big chorus and the added backing vocal from Adam D. that stitches the song together. “I mourn for those who never knew you,” a lyric from the track, has always stuck with me. “Rose of Sharyn” is one of Killswitch’s lighter songs, but it still packs a powerful punch.

Song: “Just Barely Breathing”
Album:
Alive or Just Breathing (2002)
Why it’s #4: Personal tale: I saw Killswitch play in Stroudsburg, Pa. a few months back and, as the band was playing Alive or Just Breathing in its entirety, I heard this song performed live for the first time. It was beautiful in a way I can’t properly describe. The instrumental section that begins the song is lovely, and the chorus has this dynamic intensity and effortlessness that is so enjoyable, I couldn’t leave this track off the list.

Song: “This Is Absolution”
Album:
Daylight Dies (2006)
Why it’s #3: Oh hey, a song from Daylight Dies, cracks the Top 10! Although I truly believe the 2006 release was the most complete “Howard record,” this is the only track from the album that I feel is bigger than the sum of its parts. When it comes to screaming and singing so loudly in the car that my eyes start to water, this is the song I’m usually accompanying. The message is empowering, the dueling vocals between Howard and Adam D. are top-notch and the key change at the end brings the song home. I’ve been listening to “This is Absolution” regularly since it dropped seven years ago, and still add it to most playlists.

Song: “My Last Serenade”
Album:
Alive or Just Breathing (2002)
Why it’s #2: Arguably Killswitch’s most popular, enduring song, “My Last Serenade” is all that KsE was, is and will ever be. As years pass, and through changes in the band, this track has always been at the forefront of every live show and the band’s image overall. This is the song that non-KsE fans know. This is the first song many veteran fans fell in love with a decade ago. This is the song every fan can sing in his sleep. I can romanticize it for lines and lines, but really, it is just a great, well-rounded song. From the acoustic fade-in to the heavy verse to the simple, yet spiritual chorus, this song was instrumental in defining the metalcore genre.

Song: “The End of Heartache”
Album:
The End of Heartache (2004)
Why it’s #1: I’m sure plenty of Killswitch lovers will disagree with me on this being the greatest KsE song in the group’s history, but I do not care. This is my favorite song. From Killswitch or from any band. “The End of Heartache” is incredible in melody, rhythm, vocals and lyrics. This is one of the few KsE songs where the verse is sung, not screamed, and Howard is a superstar throughout. His huge voice destroys this track, as does Jesse, who now sings this live and does a fantastic job. The guitar break after the first chorus is beautifully brutal. The slow, sludgy breakdown has a great groove to it and when the chorus kicks back in, the dynamic allows the refrain to soar that much more. “The End of Heartache” was the gateway into my true, undying love for Killswitch, therefore it gets top billing.

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