Just three days after their appearance at the Grammys, American metalcore group Killswitch Engage are on more familiar territory when kick off their 2014 world tour in the Academy. Graciously conceding the title of “Best Metal Performance” for their 2013 single ‘In Due Time’ to the predictable victors, Ozzy Osbourne et al, they grace the sold-out venue with no inkling of disappointment. After a humorous eighties pop intro, they bound onstage and the show starts proper with ‘A Bid Farewell’ from their 2004 album The End of Heartache. Immediately, the energy levels in the venue soar, and the predominantly male audience thrust their fists in the air and sing along loudly.
Killswitch Engage were formed in Massachusetts in 1999 by four of the five current band members. Vocalist Jesse Leach had quit the band in 2002, but rejoined two years ago after his replacement announced his departure. His return has been welcomed by fans and bandmates alike, and they jovially introduce him tonight as “our new old singer; the asshole who left us”. Obviously accustomed to playing much larger venues, their backdrop barely fits the stage, and the podium provides limited scope for their restless onstage antics.
The band have not one, but unusually, two eponymous records in their six album catalogue. However, both were completely overlooked when selecting tonight’s setlist, making way for a fairly even mix of tracks from the other four, slightly weighted in favour of their most recent release Disarm the Descent, which was released last April. As he introduces the first of these, ‘New Awakening’, Leach calls for an oval pit to be created, specifying “I want you to make it nice and wide”. To which one of his bandmates quips “That’s what she said”.
The crushing guitar riffs, breakdowns, and melodic choruses coupled with growling vocals typify the essence of the metalcore genre. The energy is dripping down the walls in the hot and steamy Academy, and a steady flow of sweaty topless gentlemen surf across the sea of arms to the railings, where they are redirected to the back of the venue by security staff to restart their circuit. Some tenacious fans seize the opportunity to jump onto the stage from the wings before quickly diving back into the anonymity of the crowd. Those foolish enough to loiter onstage too long pay the price of eviction for their moment of fame.
Leading by example, even Leach jumps into the crowd where he busts his lip and breaks his belt. One generous fan throws his own belt on stage upon hearing Jesse’s plight. The band remark that what they really want is for ladies’ bra’s to be thrown onstage; and dutifully, one is flung at them, which drummer-turned-guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz wears for the remainder of the show. Another gift from the audience is an Irish flag bearing an impressive depiction of the band and their logo, accepted by Leach and worn over his shoulders during the encore. Finishing their set in little over sixty minutes with ‘My Curse’, they promise to return soon, and bid us adieu. A disappointingly short, but adequate performance this time around, which only leaves fans thirsty for more.
Photo: Olga Kuzmenko