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The sound of Killswitch Engage is characterized by a mix of powerful riffing, double bass beats, and dynamic vocals. Other notable features of their sound include the use of complex single-note articulations, power chord riffs, twin-guitar harmonies and guitar squeals such as pinch harmonics and artificial harmonics. <ref>Websites backing up (melodic) metalcore genre</ref>
Following the demise of his old band Overcast in 1998, bassist Mike D'Antonio explored the underground heavy metal scenes in search of members for a new band. In 1999, D'Antonio met Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel, guitarists for Aftershock. Dutkiewicz took the role of playing drums, while Stroetzel remained on guitar. The trio searched for a vocalist and eventually hired Jesse Leach, formerly of Corrin and Nothing Stays Gold. The now four-member band took the name of "Killswitch Engage," a name proposed by D'Antonio after watching an episode of the FOX program The X-Files entitled "Kill Switch". The episode's writer, William Gibson, came up with the title after a chance meeting with the industrial band Kill Switch...Klick; the bands are otherwise unrelated.
The band's self-titled debut album was sufficient to earn them a deal with Roadrunner Records. Soon after signing with Roadrunner, the band decided to become a five-piece by bringing in former Overcast guitarist Pete Cortese. However, Cortese left soon after. In 2002 they released their second album, Alive or Just Breathing. This album greatly increased the band's exposure and placed them on the Billboard Magazine Top Heatseekers chart. The CMJ New Music Report described the record as "more addictive than crack cocaine that's been smothered in nicotine AND drenched with chocolate". The band was once more made a five-piece when Dutkiewicz moved to guitars, with former Aftershock drummer Tom Gomes taking the vacant spot left. This move allowed the band's songs to include two guitars.
Leach left the band shortly after the release of Alive or Just Breathing. He had married his fiancée while on tour, but was separated from her due to the demanding tour schedule. Subsequently, Leach fell into a deep depression. During shows, he began screaming with more emotion than technique, and exhausted his voice. After the last show of their tour in Seattle, he sent the band an e-mail in which he explained his situation (see the World Ablaze DVD). This, coupled with the band's touring commitments, prompted Leach's departure in June 2002. Leach was replaced by Howard Jones, of Blood Has Been Shed, who has remained the band's vocalist since.
The new lineup played on the Road Rage tour in the UK and the Netherlands in 2002 with 36 Crazyfists, and continued touring throughout the rest of the year. In 2003, the band released the song When Darkness Falls, which appeared on the soundtrack of the 2003 horror film Freddy vs. Jason. The same year they also played the Ozzfest festival, after which drummer Tom Gomes left the band to live in Los Angeles with his wife and pursue their current band, (Something Of A Silhouette). He was replaced by Jones' fellow Blood Has Been Shed band member, Justin Foley, previously of jazz metal band Red Tide. Foley's first tour with the band was the MTV2 Headbangers Ball in 2003.
The band's third album, The End of Heartache, was released on May 11 2004 and was the first release to feature Jones as vocalist. The album ultimately went on to sell more than 250,000 copies in the U.S. It also debuted in the top 40 of the Australian album charts on May 17, 2004, following a successful tour of Australia with Anthrax.
In 2004, a Kellogg's Pop Tarts commercial advertising french toast pop tarts used the song “The Element of One” off of Alive or Just Breathing. The song is played as the boy in the commercial is leaving the diner.
In late 2004, the band supported Slayer on their U.S. Jagermusic dates and headlined shows with From Autumn to Ashes, Eighteen Visions, and 36 Crazyfists. In addition, The End Of Heartache became the main single for the movie Resident Evil: Apocalypse. In December, 2004, the song was nominated in the Best Metal Performance category for the 47th annual Grammy Awards.
In late 2004, The End of Heartache was re-released as a special edition album, with a second disc featuring various live performances, a Japanese bonus track, and a re-recorded version of Irreversal, featuring All That Remains vocalist Phil Labonte and former Killswitch vocalist Jesse Leach.
During the summer of 2005, the band returned for another spot on the Ozzfest tour.
On November 1, 2005, Alive or Just Breathing was re-released as part of Roadrunner Records' 25th anniversary. It was re-released with a second disc that contains In The Unblind, When The Balance Is Broken, Numbered Days (Demo Version), Transfiguration (Demo Version of Fixation on the Darkness), Just Barely Breathing (Demo Version), Fixation On The Darkness (With Howard Jones On Vocals), and AOJB Studio Out Takes, as well as the music videos for My Last Serenade, Fixation on the Darkness, and Life to Lifeless.
On November 22, 2005, Killswitch Engage released a live DVD titled (Set This) World Ablaze which had a live concert the band taped during their stop at the Palladium in Worcester, MA on July 25, 2005. In addition to the live performance, the DVD also features an hour-long documentary about the band, and all of their music videos. As I Lay Dying and Once Beloved also performed at this sold-out concert.
On the DVD, Jesse Leach states that he and the other band members have maintained healthy relations and that he was forgiven entirely for the manner of his departure. The band also makes various comments on the transformation of the band, and how they enjoy prevailing friendships. The band returned to Chicopee, Massachusetts on February 19, 2005, to play an unannounced show for guitarist Joel's brother's band, Once Beloved.
In the fall of 2006, Killswitch completed work on their latest album, As Daylight Dies. In the October issue of Revolver, Adam Dutkiewicz announced that the album was called Petting Zoo. However, as it was Adam who announced the name, it was assumed by some to be a joke. At this time they also recorded a cover of Dio's Holy Diver for a Kerrang! compilation album entitled High Voltage.
The band played the Carling Weekend Reading and Leeds Festivals in August, having played Australian dates without Dutkiewicz, who was suffering from back problems and needed corrective surgery. Other U.S. festival appearances in that year included headlining the likes of Saints and sinners festival in Asbury Park.
On May 23, 2006, the track This Fire Burns was released on the WWE Wreckless Intent album. This was the first new studio song to be released since The End Of Heartache. The song was intended to be the new theme for RAW Superstar Randy Orton; however, it was scrapped and later became the theme for the WWE Judgment Day 2006 pay-per-view. This Fire Burns is now being used as the theme for ECW wrestler CM Punk. The band's vocalist Howard Jones is a well known fan of the WWE product.
The band's latest album, As Daylight Dies opened at #32 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart with sales of 60,000 copies, shifting 22,000 more units than their previous best sales week of 38,000 for The End of Heartache. The album received mostly positive critical reviews, with critics praising the vocal style of Howard Jones and the band's already notable powerful riffs and soft melodies. All Music Guide gave the album four and a half stars out of a possible five, calling it "a Top Five metal candidate for 2006 for sure." The album did, however, receive a few mixed reviews from Metal critics, who criticized the album for breaking away from the style the band established with Alive or Just Breathing in 2002, and their last album The End of Heartache in 2004, and apparently "toning down" their once heavier sound.
The album's first single, entitled "My Curse," is thus far Killswitch Engage's most popular single, topping the number 31 spot on the Mainstream Rock chart achieved by the band's breakthrough single of 2004, "The End of Heartache" as well as being featured on the cover of the January 2007 edition of Revolver Magazine Recently the band had to cancel three of their European tour dates due to back problems from Adam. It turned out he needed emergency back surgery and was replaced on the tour by ex-Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers.
KSE headlined the No Fear Tour in early 2007 with label mates Dragonforce, former label mates Chimaira, and He Is Legend. Due to Adam's back problems, he was replaced this time by Damageplan/The Mercy Clinic frontman Patrick Lachman, who was formerly the guitarist for Diesel Machine and Halford. Adam was able to play once again by the end of the No Fear tour , which is when the band began shooting the second video from their As Daylight Dies album, "The Arms of Sorrow".
Killswitch Engage have also confirmed that they are playing the 2007 Download Festival, along with other bands including Iron Maiden, Linkin Park, Slayer, Marilyn Manson and My Chemical Romance. Adam will not be playing. Also they have been confirmed to be in Bamboozle 2007 on May 6.
On April 26 the video to their newest single "Arms Of Sorrow" was released on their MySpace, shortly followed by it being posted on Youtube<ref>Arms of Sorrow Video released</ref>. It was also premiered on MTV2's Headbanger's Ball the same week.
On June 8 Killswitch Engage played a very special one of gig along with Machine Head and Chimaira in a small venue of about 1000 people in Belfast, Northern Ireland to warm up for the Download festival.
On June 13, it was announced that the band were going to film a music video for their cover of Dio's classic Holy Diver. It was shot in Calistoga, California during the weekend of June 16-17. The song/video is expected to be in the re-release version of As Daylight Dies which will see a release on August 28th. On August 1 the cover was released on the bands Myspace. <ref>NEW KILLSWITCH ENGAGE ECARD - 7.23.2007</ref>
|Date of Release||Title||Label||US Billboard Peak||US sales|
|July 11, 2000||Killswitch Engage||Ferret Records|
|May 21, 2002||Alive or Just Breathing||Roadrunner Records||37 (Heatseekers)||110,000+|
|May 11, 2004||The End of Heartache||Roadrunner Records||21||460,000+|
|November 21, 2006||As Daylight Dies||Roadrunner Records||32||266,000+|
|<center> US Modern Rock|
|2002||"My Last Serenade"||<center>-||<center>-||Alive or Just Breathing|
|2002||"Life To Lifeless"||<center>-||<center>-||Alive or Just Breathing|
|2003||"Fixation On The Darkness"||<center>-||<center>-||Alive or Just Breathing|
|2004||"Rose Of Sharyn"||<center>-||<center>-||The End of Heartache|
|2004||"The End Of Heartache"||<center>31<ref name=chart>Chart</ref>||<center>-||The End of Heartache|
|2007||"My Curse"||<center>21<ref name=chart/>||<center>-||As Daylight Dies|
|2007||"The Arms of Sorrow"||<center>31<ref name=chart />||<center>-||As Daylight Dies|
- My Last Serenade (2002) (Directed by P.R. Brown)
- Life to Lifeless (2002)
- Fixation on the Darkness (2003)
- Rose of Sharyn (2004) (Directed by: Lex Halaby)
- The End of Heartache (2004) (Directed by: Tony Petrossian)
- A Bid Farewell (2005) (Directed by: Lex Halaby)
- My Curse (2006) (Directed by: Lex Halaby)
- The Arms of Sorrow (2007) (Directed by: Aggressive)
- Holy Diver (2007) (Directed by: Brian Thompson)
- When Darkness Falls , Freddy vs. Jason (soundtrack) (2004)
- This Fire Burns, WWE Wreckless Intent (2006)
- Holy Diver (Dio Cover), Kerrang! High Voltage (2006)
- A Bid Farewell (live), MTV2 Headbangers Ball: The Revenge (2006)
- Official Site
- Official Myspace Page
- KsE's interview & concert footage with contest and prizes on RealMagicTV
- Live Photos of KSE
- Template:MusicBrainz artist
- Killswitch Engage Interview on Musictowers
- Killswitch Engage Bio
- All Music Guide Killswitch Engage article
- Wise Men Promotions interview with Joel Stroetzel, June 27, 2004 Retrieved February 21, 2007
- CMJ Review - KILLSWITCH ENGAGE: Alive Or Just Breathing Kevin Boyce, 2005
- KILLSWITCH ENGAGE To Film Video For Cover Of DIO's 'Holy Diver' Blabbermouth, 2007