Every 5 to 10 years there is a band whose arrival signals a sea change in the heavy metal landscape, be it Black Sabbath’s invention of the form, Iron Maiden’s punk/speed metal hybrid, Metallica’s time signature shifting thrash, or Pantera’s grungy southern sludge groove. Killswitch Engage is one of those bands. While their lowbrow nu metal contemporaries were unsuccessfully attempting to bastardize rap and doing it all for the nookie, Killswitch melded the aesthetics of hardcore to melodic, radio-friendly metal hooks to popularize a genre that would come to be known as metalcore.
There would be a million bands that would attempt to emulate Killswitch’s unique brand of beauty and ferocity. Most of them would only succeed in sounding like pale imitations. To this day the band stand as one of the most vital in the genre and their live shows continue to amaze.
From the band’s second album, Alive Or Just Breathing, the Massive Metal Monday track for this week is “Fixation On The Darkness.” Interestingly, the album features the vocals of original singer Jesse Leach who would leave the band before the video for the song was shot. This video features his replacement, Howard Jones, and was shot live to introduce the world to the new singer and his skills.
Leach recently returned to the fold for Killswitch Engage’s best album to date, 2013’s Disarm The Descent. The band is currently hard at work on their seventh studio album. With any luck, we’ll see that by the end of 2015.
Also, the group will be contributing a track to Catch the Throne: The Mixtape, the Game Of Thrones compilation, which will also see a new song from Anthrax.
When I was growing up in rural Indiana in the early ’80s, there was very limited access to heavy music. These were the days before MTV blew up with the whole hair metal, Headbangers Ball phenomenon. But on Sunday nights, there was a two-hour radio show that came from WOXY, just across the state line in Oxford, Ohio (home of Miami University of Ohio). It was called Massive Metal for the Masses and I would wait all week for it to air. It was through this show that I was introduced to bands like Venom, Bathory, WASP, Michael Schenker Group, Slayer, and countless others. This Monday weekly column is my tip of the hat to that show. I call it Massive Metal Monday. Every week, I will pay tribute to defining moments by the artists that laid the groundwork for heavy metal to become the worldwide cultural bond for all of us metal heads.