Metal Wiki
Killswitch Engage
Band Info
OriginWestfield, Massachusetts, USA
Associated ActsTimes of Grace, Overcast, The Empire Shall Fall, Shadows Fall, Blood Has Been Shed

Killswitch Engage is an American metalcore band from Westfield, Massachusetts, formed in 1999 after the disbanding of Overcast and Aftershock. Killswitch Engage's current lineup consists of vocalist Jesse Leach, bassist Mike D'Antonio, guitarists Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz, and drummer Justin Foley. The band has released five studio albums and one DVD.

Killswitch Engage rose to fame with its 2004 release The End of Heartache, which peaked at number 21 on the Billboard 200, and was certified gold by the RIAA in December 2007 for over 500,000 shipments in the United States. The title track, "The End of Heartache", was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005 for Best Metal Performance, and a live DVD titled (Set This) World Ablaze was released in 2005. Killswitch Engage has performed at festivals such as Wacken Open Air, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Ozzfest, Download Festival, Rock on the Range, Rock Am Ring, Mayhem Festival, Pointfest, and the Australian Soundwave Festival. The band has sold over four million records in the US and has been widely referred to as "one of the founders of metalcore" and one of the notable bands for New Wave of American Heavy Metal.


Early days[]

Following the break-up of his band, Overcast in 1998, bassist Mike D'Antonio jammed with Aftershock Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz. As both bands had disbanded, Dutkiewicz recruited guitarist Joel Stroetzel from Aftershock, and Jesse Leach of Nothing Stays Gold as vocalist. Former Overcast vocalist Brian Fair was considered for the role, but he was unable to join due to obligations with his band Shadows Fall. D'Antonio said the band was initially going to be for fun and a "thing to do on the side".[1]

The band's name originated from the break-up of Overcast and Aftershock, using aspects that pushed and elevated the band and putting the combination into a new category. D'Antonio commented "basically shutting everything down that we once knew and starting over. Killswitch, which is like turning everything off. Like if someone’s hand gets caught in something in a metal working shop the foreman will press one button that will turn off the machines. A killswitch. Then the engage is just turning it back on or something like that".[2]

Signed to a label, self-titled and Alive or Just Breathing[]

While touring with Steve Young and Shadows Fall, and opening for In Flames, Killswitch Engage was noticed by record label Ferret Music and signed the band to its label. The band released its self-titled debut album, and although initially the album was not a financial success and didn't enter any charts, it garnered the interest of Ferret Music founder Carl Severson. Severson, who worked at Roadrunner Records at the time, handed Killswitch Engage to several Roadrunner representatives. An A&R of the company, Mike Gitter, contacted D'Antonio and attended several of the band's shows, and his interest led him to offer the band a recording contract with Roadrunner. Declining offers from several smaller labels, the band accepted the Roadrunner deal as they thought the company had the resources to promote and distribute Killswitch Engage releases.[3]

Killswitch Engage began writing new material for their second album in November 2001. With a larger recording budget, the band entered Zing Studios in Westfield, Massachusetts in November, and was able to spend more time "getting things right".[4] Mixed in January at Backstage Studios by producer Andy Sneap,[5] the album was titled Alive or Just Breathing for lyrics in the song "Just Barely Breathing".[6] A music video for the single "My Last Serenade" increased the band's exposure, and the album peaked at number 37 on the Top Heatseekers chart.[7] After the album's release, which was written and recorded for two guitarists, the band decided to expand and become a fivesome when Dutkiewicz moved to guitar, and former Aftershock drummer Tom Gomes joined as drummer. Kevin Boyce of CMJ New Music Report described the record as "more addictive than crack cocaine that's been smothered in caffeine and nicotine and drenched with chocolate",[8] and Jason D. Taylor of All Music Guide said the release is "a pure metal album that seemingly has ignored any fashionable trend and instead relies solely on skill and expertise to sculpt some of meatiest heavy metal since the glory days of Metallica and Slayer".[9]

New lead singer and drummer[]

After Leach got married on April 20, 2002 and began touring again he started to become depressed. This started to affect his screaming as he would put too much emotion into the screaming and not enough technique. At his worst Leach would do a show then head back to the bus and go to sleep. Leach left the band a few days before the band was meant to play a show and sent the band members an e-mail telling them he had quit. D'Antonio thought that "after three years of hanging out with the dude, and considering him a brother, to just get an email was a little bit harsh."[10][11]

The band immediately started to search for a replacement vocalist and found Howard Jones of Blood Has Been Shed. Jones disliked the band's sound when he first heard it. He commented "I was like, ‘Meh.’ I come from hardcore and dirtier metal, and Killswitch sounded so clean. But the more I listened to it, I realized there’s some really good songs here".[12] After hearing about Leach's vocal problems, Jones contacted the band and was accepted as the replacement. Without listening to the entire self-titled album or Alive or Just Breathing, Jones had to memorize seven songs for his debut at the 2002 Hellfest.[12]

The new lineup played on the Road Rage tour in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in 2002 with 36 Crazyfists and Five Pointe O. Touring continued through the New Year's Day, and in 2003 the first song to feature Jones, "When Darkness Falls", appeared on the soundtrack of the 2003 horror film Freddy vs. Jason.[13][14] Following the 2003 Ozzfest, drummer Gomes left the band because he wished to spend more time with his wife, to pursue his band Something of a Silhouette, and because he was tired of touring.[15] He was replaced by Justin Foley of Blood Has Been Shed and Red Tide, and Foley's first tour with the band was the MTV2 Headbangers Ball in 2003.[16][17]

The End of Heartache[]

The End of Heartache was released on May 11, 2004, and peaked at number 21 on the Billboard 200 with 38,000 sales in its first week,[18] and it also peaked at number 39 on the Australian album chart following an Australian tour with Anthrax.[19] The album went on to sell more than 500,000 copies in the U.S and was certified gold on December 7, 2007.[20] The album received mostly positive reviews, with Jon Caramanica of Rolling Stone calling the album a "stunning collection, retaining much of their signature musical brutality".[21] Ed Rivaria of All Music Guide commented "riff upon riff are piled sky-high into each number that follows, it's the unpredictable rhythmic shifts used to build and then relieve internal pressure that fuel the Killswitch Engage power source".[22]

In late 2004, the band supported Slayer on its U.S. Jagermusic dates, and headlined shows with From Autumn to Ashes, Eighteen Visions, and 36 Crazyfists. "The End of Heartache" became the main single for the movie Resident Evil: Apocalypse, and in 2005 the song was nominated in the Best Metal Performance category for the 47th annual Grammy Awards. The award was given to Motörhead for "Whiplash".[23] 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". During the summer of 2005, the band returned for Ozzfest, and on November 1, 2005, Alive or Just Breathing was re-released as part of Roadrunner Records' 25th anniversary. On November 22, 2005, the live DVD (Set This) World Ablaze was released, which contained a live concert at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts, an hour-long documentary, and all the band's music videos. The DVD went gold in the U.S. on April 8, 2006 for 50,000 sales.[20]

As Daylight Dies[]

Killswitch Engage played the Reading and Leeds Festivals in August 2006, having already played Australian dates without Dutkiewicz, who was suffering from back problems and needed corrective surgery. On May 23, 2006, the song "This Fire Burns" was released on the WWE Wreckless Intent album.[24] The track was intended to be the new theme song for WWE superstar Randy Orton; however, it was scrapped and later became the theme song for the WWE Judgment Day 2006 pay-per-view. "This Fire Burns" is currently used as the entrance theme for ECW wrestler CM Punk.[25]

Recorded in three months, As Daylight Dies was released on November 21, 2006 and peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart with 60,000 sales in its first week.[26] It also entered the Australia album chart at number 29.[19] Mixed by Dutkiewicz, the album received mostly positive reviews—Thom Jurek of All Music Guide called it "a Top Five metal candidate for 2006 for sure".[27] Decibel Magazine contributor Nick Terry said "To call As Daylight Dies addictive would be an understatement. That it outdoes its already impressive enough predecessor could almost go without saying".[28] Cosmo Lee of Stylus Magazine commented "the album is astonishingly badly sequenced", even though it contributed to the album being "less emotionally heavy-handed, and a lot more fun".[29] As of November 27, 2007, As Daylight Dies has sold more than 300,000 units in the United States.[30]

The album's first single, "My Curse", peaked at number 21 on the Hot Mainstream Rock chart, and was available as a bonus song in the popular game Guitar Hero III. "The Arms of Sorrow" peaked at number 31 on the same chart. The band's cover of Dio's "Holy Diver", originally recorded for a Kerrang! compilation album titled High Voltage,[31] peaked at number 12 on the Mainstream Rock charts.[32] Early in 2007, the band had to cancel three of its European tour dates with The Haunted due to Dutkiewicz's back problems. He required emergency back surgery and was replaced on the tour by ex-Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers.[33]

Further tours[]

Killswitch Engage headlined the No Fear Tour in early 2007 with Dragonforce, Chimaira, and He Is Legend. Due to Dutkiewicz's back problems, he was replaced by Damageplan and The Mercy Clinic frontman Patrick Lachman, who was formerly the guitarist for Diesel Machine and Halford. Dutkiewicz recovered and was able to finish No Fear tour, and the band began filming its video for As Daylight Dies's second single, "The Arms of Sorrow".[34]

Killswitch Engage played the 2007 Download Festival with Iron Maiden, Evanescence, Linkin Park, Slayer, and Marilyn Manson. The band also toured at Bamboozle 2007 and Warped Tour. On August 6, 2007, Dutkiewicz was forced to leave Warped Tour so he could fully recover from his back surgery and continue daily physical therapy. He was replaced by Killswitch's guitar technician Josh Mihlek for select songs, until his return on August 14, 2007.[35] Killswitch Engage spent November 28 through December 17, 2007 on a U.S. tour with co-headlining band Lamb of God, and supporting acts DevilDriver and Soilwork.

Killswitch Engage took part in the Soundwave Festival in Australia during February and March 2008. Other bands attending include The Offspring, Incubus, As I Lay Dying, Alexisonfire, Haste The Day, Saosin, and Carpathian.[36] The band will tour until May 2008, and may discuss writing a new record, which would be released in 2009.[30].

The band is about to kick off a small tour for the month of May in Canada and the United States, kicking off in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and ending in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Support for this tour comes from Poison the Well, Throwdown and The End.

Band members[]

Current members
  • Jesse Leach – lead vocals (1999–2002, 2012–present)
  • Adam Dutkiewicz – lead guitar, backing vocals (2002–present), drums (1999–2002)
  • Joel Stroetzel – rhythm guitar (2000–2001, 2002–present), lead guitar (1999–2000, 2001–2002)
  • Mike D'Antonio – bass guitar (1999–present)
  • Justin Foley – drums (2003–present)
Former members
  • Pete Cortese – lead guitar (2000–2001)
  • Tom Gomes – drums (2002–2003)
  • Howard Jones – lead vocals (2002–2012)
Touring members
  • Patrick Lachman – guitars (2007)
  • Josh Mihlek – guitars (2007)
  • Peter Wichers – guitars (2007)
  • Phil Labonte – lead vocals (Feb–Mar 2010)
  • Jesse Leach – lead vocals (March 2010)



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  2. McGrath, Ken. Killswitch Engage - Blistering. Retrieved on 2007-12-17.
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  4. Killswitch Engage Interview. Retrieved on 2007-12-17.
  5. Archive News - November 2001. (2001-11-06). Retrieved on 2007-12-21.
  6. Brodie. Interview with Adam. Retrieved on 2007-12-17.
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  13. Freddy vs. Jason soundtrack. Retrieved on 2007-12-18.
  14. Freddy vs. Jason. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
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  18. Whitmire, Margo (2004-05-19). Usher Keeps Rolling At No. 1. Archived from the original on 2012-06-30. Retrieved on 2007-12-07.
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  24. Wwe: Wreckless Intent CD. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  25. Goddamn Electric. Retrieved on 2007-12-18.
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  34. Killswitch Engage. Retrieved on 2007-12-18.
  35. Video Interview. (2007-10-23). Retrieved on 2008-01-01.
  36. SoundwaveFestival. Retrieved on 2007-12-18.

Interview @ SHOUT! Music Webzine

External links[]