Killswitch Engage’s 15th Anniversary Gig Shows Just why Fans Love Their Second Record

 

Enmore Theatre, 03/03/17

Photos by Peter Zaluzy

15 years ago, the metalcore greats’ sophomore album Alive or Just Breathing was unleashed; a landmark record which hasn’t lessened in impact since 2002.

Last Friday night was a pretty damn sweet one for old-school Killswitch fans, when we got to experience the release in its entirety. Everything special binding the group together back then translated seamlessly on the live stage. So seamlessly in fact, that there was a sizeable difference in reaction between old classics and new cuts from last year’s Incarnate.

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Only a handful of punters had turned out as Perth hardcore young guns Cursed Earth took to the stage (not to be mixed up with Washington’s Earth or Iced Earth from Florida). Very few of us knew what to expect as the group kicked the night off, fronted by Jazmine Luders. Bouncing around, she displayed a solid energy, although noticeably out of breath between songs.

While Luders’ studio delivery on compilation record Enslaved By The Insignificant (2016) showcases her raw vocals, these were often drowned out live by Sam Forward’s devastating drum-work and both guitarists’ drilling riffage. Yet while the first few tracks were pretty repetitive, the set exponentially improved with ‘Enslaved’, highlighting Forward’s behind-the-kit ability while switching up the pace.

Meanwhile, during their last few songs, a much larger crowd amassed for the seasoned San Franciscans about to dominate the stage.

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Having spun Fallujah‘s third album Dreamless (2016) a lot and chatted with frontman Alex Hofmann, I was keen to hear how the newer material (and tracks I’d never heard before) would translate live. Awash in a blue-purple light reminiscent of Dreamless‘ album artwork, the metal quintet started off with the atmospheric intro leading into ‘Face of Death’.

“Sydney, are you alive?” – Alex Hofmann.

As Hofmann’s commanding presence enveloped the Enmore, two things became apparent: his sheer ability to transition between whispered snarls, high screams and growls – particularly on closer ‘Scar Queen’ – and the guitar brilliance of Scott Carstairs and Brian James.

No matter how desolate and heavy the rhythms were, especially on the older and incredibly intricate ‘Cerebral Hybridisation’, those high wailing melodies (reminiscent of the Devin Townsend Project) shone through. While I was particularly drawn to Carstairs, delivering the majority of those guitar lines, the two musos layering their sounds on top of each other was always a highlight.

Brought home by Hofmann’s brutal vocals, the show proved that these guys’ll be back for their own headline tour soon.

The venue had long since become a full house, and as a mass waiting to be taken back 15 years, we were ready.

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It was the blistering throes of Alive or Just Breathing‘s first track ‘Numbered Days’ that fans expected, and there was no fucking around as the headliners burst straight into it. The moshing started right away, and Jesse Leach delivered his screams and clean vocals with the same intensity.

As the set wore on, it was clear that’s what resonated the most with fans. The band’s second release struck just the right chord between harsh and clean vocals, melodic and heavy, and that’s a balance which bleeds through live too. Slower favourites like ‘Fixation On The Darkness’ and ‘My Last Serenade’ exemplified this, also showing just how well Leach and lead guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz complement each other vocally.

Now onto the axeman, who’s one of the best in the business and an all-round top bloke. The energy Dutkiewicz brings to every moment is unrivaled by many, whether he’s delivering a straight-up heavy riff from ‘To The Sons Of Man’ or slowing it down with ‘Life To Lifeless’.

Also, it always helps when he’s being his naturally hilarious self, dubbing us the “land of the koala dicks” or on second thought, of “the kangaroo cocks”.

Seeing the band play Alive or Just Breathing made it clear that they’ve got a powerful tie to the record. Being signed to a major label (Roadrunner) for the first time spurred them to push themselves to their limits; the pride in what they produced imbued fans and band alike, culminating into a huge crowd singalong to album closer ‘Rise Inside’.

“It’s Friday night, so let’s party!” – Jesse Leach.

With just over half the set being a nostalgia trip, you might wonder whether the five-piece could’ve sustained that incredible vibe. Whenever they played pre-2016 songs, they certainly did. However, it was Incarnate tracks ‘Hate By Design’ and ‘Alone I Stand’ that didn’t go over as well with the crowd. Even the band seemed a little less enthusiastic about playing those ones, although that could easily have been because they’d taken us (and themselves) on an epic, hour-long trip down memory lane.

Towards the end, the vocalist dedicated ‘Strength Of The Mind’ to all those suffering depression and anxiety “just like I do”, inducing a massive crowd roar. Dutkiewicz then lent his trademark humour by yelling the three things in life that get him through it all: “Pizza, masturbation and beer!”

We were then taken back to ’04 with epic third album The End of Heartache, where Leach truly showcased his cleans on the title track before saying his goodbyes.

Good thing we didn’t have to wait long. Soon enough the quintet returned, satisfying us with an awesome encore in ‘Rose of Sharyn’, one of their most recognisable tracks.

Oh, that was everything a 15th anniversary album show’s supposed to be.

About Genevieve Gao

Interviewing bands and getting to know the people behind them is what I do best. Lover of all things heavy, Italian food, beaches & coffee. FInd me on Twitter @Genna1_1

View all posts by Genevieve Gao

About the photographer, Peter Zaluzny

When did you start shooting?   I started doing gigs about 7 years ago.  Before that, photography had always been in the house – my dad was a serious enthusiast.  Way back when, I did a semester of photo journalism as part of my Bachelor of Journalism at Uni, so I bought a digital camera

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