Killswitch Engage is a five-piece metalcore band from Westfield, Massachusetts, formed in the late nineties. The band currently consists of vocalist Jesse Leach, guitarists Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz, bassist Mike D'Antonio and drummer Justin Foley.
Original singer Jesse Leach was replaced with former Blood Has Been Shed singer Howard Jones for almost a decade, before returning when Howard quit due to health problems. note
The band has released five studio albums to date. MTV once called the band one of "the founders of metalcore", which is actually inaccurate as the first metalcore bands were from the early nineties and consisted of bands like Integrity and Earth Crisis; the band's main innovation was fusing the sound of metalcore with the harmonized guitar melodies of Melodic Death Metal and clean singing, producing the subgenre which would come to be known as melodic metalcore. At any rate, Killswitch Engage are one of the most popular heavy groups around today, and are known as forerunners in the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, along with other popular heavyweights such as Lamb of God.
Killswitch Engage contains the following tropes:
- Bald Black Leader Guy — Howard Jones.
- Careful with That Axe — "My Curse" and the start of "Rose of Sharyn".
- Cloudcuckoolander — Adam is known for acting a little...out there during live performances.
- Cover Version: Of "Holy Diver", originally by Dio. The music video is notable for being a fairly close homage to the original, but with much higher production values and a clearer plot.
- Filk Song: "Loyalty", released in 2015, is about the Martell family of Game of Thrones.
- Grief Song — "My Curse" and "Rose of Sharyn."
- Heavy Metal — Though some purists would argue that since they're metalcore, they're merely a form of hardcore punk...
- Longest Song Goes Last:
- Alive or Just Breathing ends with "Rise Inside" (5:56)
- As Daylight Dies ends with "Reject Yourself" (4:44)
- Atonement ends with "Bite the Hand That Feeds" (4:48)
- Lyrical Dissonance — They have tons of aggressive, super heavy songs with surprisingly positive lyrics.
- Metalcore: They're credited with launching the genre into the mainstream.
- Metal Scream — In every song. Even "Holy Diver".
- Mood Whiplash — "My Last Serenade" opens with quiet ambient sounds, gentle acoustic guitar, and soft singing before launching into a steam-rolling metal assault.
- Same thing with "My Curse," which starts with melodic, lightly distorted guitar chords that segue into a crushing riff and a Metal Scream.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Definitely around an 8. Think about it, and it's probably gonna be hard to say otherwise.
- Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Amusingly, not that high given both Jesse and Howard focused on more positive feelings for lyrics instead of the death, angst and destruction that permeates metal.
- Not Christian Rock: Jesse Leach was raised Christian, and some of the band's lyrics sound vaguely religious, but the band has rejected the Christian label, stating that their music is meant to be enjoyed by people of all religious backgrounds.
- Obsession Song — Quite a few of them.
- Older Than They Look — Believe it or not, Howard Jones is 50.
- Power Ballad — "The End of Heartache" and "The Arms of Sorrow" for the Jones era; "Always" for the Leach era.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis! — Prechorus of "My Curse".
- Refrain from Assuming — "My Curse" getting called "This is My Curse".
- Running Gag — The video for "Holy Diver" features the king taking a large bite out of a chicken leg three separate times.
- Self-Titled Album — Two, their debut and their fifth album.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism — Generally idealistic.
- Soft Water — The "Arms of Sorrow" music video, which has a man falling off what looks like a very tall apartment building, ends with said man landing in a swimming pool and apparently surviving in one piece.
- Solo Side Project: Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage started a solo project (with former Killswitch Engage vocalist Jesse Leach) called Times of Grace and also had the onetime studio project Serpentine Dominion with George Fisher and Shannon Lucas. Subverted with Death Ray Vision; while Mike D'Antonio is a member, it was more Brian Fair's project than his and was conceived as the Spiritual Successor to Overcast; with Fair gone, the leadership has largely shifted to Pete Cortese.
- Soprano and Gravel — Both Leach and Jones utilize the one-man variant.
- Start My Own: How they started. By 1998, Overcast was basically done and Aftershock was seeing its own twilight, and both Mike D'Antonio and Adam Dutkiewicz had plenty of musical ideas kicking around in spite of their mutual lack of functioning bands to make those ideas happen, which led to the formation of Killswitch Engage.
- Subdued Section — The band utilizes this trope very often; "Desperate Times", "The Arms of Sorrow" and "The End of Heartache" are examples.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Adam Dutkiewicz in the music video for "Holy Diver."