Killswitch Engage

support Sylosis
author AP date 20/04/13 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

Following my antics of the previous evening, which ended, among other things, in a right hand and lower arm I still cannot fully feel today as well as potentially a fractured rib or two, courtesy of myself, in one of my good friends, it was altogether surprising that I made it to this show. Killswitch Engage can count themselves among my favorite bands - at least back in the day - so it was rather fortunate that I was fit enough to be there after all, though by some brain fart I had assumed the first band Heartist was to perform at 21:00 and not 20:30 as they did; and thus alas there will be no review of their tradecraft this time. Read on to find out what I thought about the evening's other two acts, however.

Photos by Jill Weitmann Decome

Josh Middleton of Sylosis

Sylosis

I've always held tremendous respect for Sylosis. Though they do not receive the recognition that a band in possession of such sublime songsmiths deserves, falling instead victim to elitists labeling them a metalcore band, this Reading based quartet continue to soldier on putting out excellent albums with frightening consistency. For those not in the know, their music is a fusion of thrash and melodic death metal wrapped in a modern production coating - or as I like to call it, a mixture of Gojira and Metallica, with songs that rarely clock in at less than 5 minutes and feature such a wealth of instrumental virtuosity you'll need to feel fortunate not to be left flabbergastered after hearing one. Suffice it to say that such technical prowess rarely results in particularly exhilarating live performances, and while here I must concur in that Sylosis are not a particularly interesting band in the visual sense, they do what they can to cement the impression with a light show that is as dark and menacing as their music, and, above all, with a focus that yields no mistakes in any of the instrumental channels. A good mixture of material from each of the band's three LPs, "Conclusion of an Age" (2008), "Edge of the Earth" (2011) and "Monolith" (2012) is heard, with particularly "Reflections Through Fire", "All Is Not Well" and "Empyreal" drawing gasps around the venue, but I stand by my assessment that you must be familiar with this band's music in order to reap the full rewards. Thankfully, I count myself one such person, and my impression does not become clouded by the rather dull and unresponsive presence on stage.

7

Joel Stroetzel of Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage have been looking in excellent shape of late, buoyed by the return of former vocalist Jesse Leach early last year to take over the reins from the departed Howard Jones. His contributions have afforded the band a much needed air of rebirth, and as a result, they've been putting on some of the best performances of their career since the 2000-2002 period and tonight, I'm pleased to find, is no exception. What it is, is a hit parade delivered with youthful exuberance, and with the same positive breeze that is so intrinsic to the band's lyrical messages. One feels empowered when the euphoric feeling of some thousand fans roaring their lungs out in unison engulfs the venue, as an array of classics plucked from "Alive or Just Breathing" (2002), "The End of Heartache" (2004), "As Daylight Dies" (2006) and the most recent "Disarm the Descent" (2013) resonates from the stage.

Jesse Leach and Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage

As unexpectedly as the pummel begins on the latter with "The Hell in Me", as taken aback are we to find that track opening the proceedings here in place of the usual sampled theatrics that metalcore bands tend to employ in the live setting. But where Killswitch Engage could have used this tour as an opportunity primarily to air material from their most latest offspring, most of the people in the venue are no doubt satisfied to find only a few of them sandwiched in between the true Killswitch classics like the following pair of "A Bid Farewell" and "Fixation on the Darkness". The volume of the crowd's collective voice is nigh on high enough to drown everything bar the rhythm section - though I must concede that it is somewhat disappointing to hear Leach's vocals prioritized so low in the overall mix. Even with earplugs it is often difficult to detect the finer aspects of his voice, which has improved so vastly since his previous stint with the band.

Indeed, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to be able to conclude that Leach owns even Jones' songs, and introduces in them a passion that for a long time was missing from Killswitch Engage's sound by virtue of Jones' personal demons. Songs like the colossal "Arms of Sorrow" and the following groove banger "This is Absolution" are delivered in renditions that sound much better than on record - and when you combine this fact with the usual facial contortions, quirks and jesting of guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz (such as ripping out a "slide guitar riff" with an empty bottle of Carlsberg), any qualm about the relatively low lead vocals is swiftly forgotten. That is not to say that Leach and Dutkiewicz steal the show, however, as the renewed joy of playing this music is evident in the remaining members (guitarist Joel Stroetzel, bassist Mike D'Antonio and drummer Justin Foley), too; each wearing a wide grin whilst delivering their parts with the utmost precision.

Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage

Although the new songs generally do not carry as much weight yet as the classic stuff, there are songs on that record that still manage to send chills down my spine. Here I speak of "The New Awakening" early on in the set, and of the first single "In Due Time" of course, and it is good to see that most people have taken the time to learn those songs off by heart just as well as "My Curse" and "The End of Heartache" at the end of the regular set. For me personally, however, it is the 2002 picks like "Life to Lifeless", "Numbered Days", "Self Revolution" and obviously the encore piece "My Last Serenade" which is a must in every metalhead's memory I feel, that provide the finest moments throughout the 16-song setlist. I depart the show feeling energized, reborn even somehow, and this leaves me no choice but to label this an excellent performance; one which I would not mind seeing very soon again.

Setlist:

  • The Hell in Me
  • A Bid Farewell
  • Fixation on the Darkness
  • The New Awakening
  • Life to Lifeless
  • Take This Oath
  • The Arms of Sorrow
  • This is Absolution
  • No End in Sight
  • Rose of Sharyn
  • Numbered Days
  • Self Revolution
  • In Due Time
  • My Curse
  • The End of Heartache

--Encore--

  • My Last Serenade

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