Killswitch Engage is an American metalcore band formed in 1999 in Westfield, Massachusetts, resulting from the departure of members of the bands Overcast and Aftershock.
The band gained recognition with the release of the album The End of Heartache, with 500 thousand copies sold in the United States. The title song was nominated for a 2005 Grammy Award, and the live DVD (Set This) World Ablaze was released in 2005. Killswitch Engage has performed at major festivals, such as Wacken Open Air, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Ozzfest, Download Festival, RAR, Mayhem Festival and Monsters of Rock. It is currently one of the bands that formed N.W.O.A.H.M. (New Wave of American Heavy Metal).
Early Years (1999-2000)
Killswitch Engage was formed when two Metalcore bands, Overcast and Aftershock, split up during the 1990s.
Upon leaving Overcast, bassist Mike D’Antonio invited guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz (from Aftershock) to the band. Dutkiewicz recruited guitarist Joel Stroetzel from Aftershock and vocalist Jesse Leach from the band Nothing Stays Gold (who was signed to a record label owned by Dutkiewicz’s brother (Tobias Dutkiewicz), who was also the lead singer of Aftershock) to form the band. The band’s name is derived from an episode of the TV series The X-Files titled “Kill Switch”, written by William Gibson.
Gibson, in turn, named his episode after an encounter with the industrial band Kill Switch…Klick.
In 1999, Killswitch Engage recorded a demo CD with four tracks, including “Soilborn”, Killswitch Engage’s first song. The demo tape was released at the band’s first show, opening for Melodic Death Metal group In Flames in November 1999.
Debut album and Alive or Just Breathing (2000-2002)
The band released their self-titled debut album in 2000. The album attracted the interest of Carl Severson, who worked at Roadrunner Records then.
Severson showed Killswitch Engage to several Roadrunner representatives. Mike Gitter, a talent agent for the company, contacted D’Antonio, attended several of the band’s shows and offered her a record deal. Roadrunner had the resources to promote and distribute Killswitch Engage releases. The band accepted his offer, turning down several offers from smaller record labels. For a brief period between 2000 and 2001, former guitarist Pete Cortese (of Overcast) joined Killswitch Engage but left the band in 2001 when he became a father. The band began writing new material for their second album in November 2001. Mixed in January at Backstage Studios by producer Andy Sneap, the album was titled Alive or Just Breathing after lyrics from the song “Just Barely Breathing”. They also made a music video for the single “My Last Serenade”.
After the release of Alive or Just Breathing, which was written and recorded by two guitarists, the band decided to expand and become a five-piece; Dutkiewicz moved to guitar, and former Aftershock drummer Tom Gomes filled the drummer position. After Leach’s departure, who married on April 20, 2002, the group began touring again, and he fell into depression. Leach left the band a few days before they were scheduled to play a show and sent band members an email saying he had quit. D’Antonio said in an interview that “after three years of playing together with him and considering him a brother, just a goodbye email was a little harsh”.
The band immediately sought a replacement vocalist and found Howard Jones from Blood Has Been Shed. Jones didn’t like the band’s sound when he first heard it. He commented: “I come from Hardcore and dirty metal, and Killswitch sounded so clean. But the more I listened, I realized there are some really good songs here.” After hearing about Leach’s vocals, Jones contacted the band and was accepted as a replacement. Philip Labonte, from the band All That Remains, tried to win the vocal spot but lost to Howard. Jones had to memorize seven songs for his 2002 Hellfest debut without hearing the entire self-titled album and Alive or Just Breathing.
The new lineup played on the Road Rage tour in the UK and Netherlands in 2002, with 36 Crazyfists and Five Pointe O. Performances continued until New Year’s Day, and in 2003, the first song with Jones, “When Darkness Falls”, appeared on the soundtrack to the 2003 horror film Freddy vs. Jason. After Ozzfest 2003, drummer Gomes left the band because he wanted to spend more time with his wife and pursue his band Something of a Silhouette and because he was tired of touring. Justin Foley replaced him from the band Blood Has Been Shed, whom Jones invited. Foley’s first tour with the band was at the MTV2 Headbangers Ball in 2003.
The End of Heartache and (Set This) World Ablaze (2004–2006)
The End of Heartache was released on May 11, 2004, and reached number 21 on the Billboard 200, with 38,000 sales in its first week, and also reached number 39 on the Australian album chart. The album sold more than 500,000 copies only in the U.S. and was certified gold on December 7, 2007.
“The End of Heartache” became the lead single from the film Resident Evil: Apocalypse. In late 2004, The End of Heartache was re-released as a special edition album, with a second disc featuring several live performances, a Japanese bonus track, and a re-recording 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, featuring a live concert at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts, lasting just over an hour. The DVD was certified gold in the US on April 8, 2006, and gold in the CAN on November 14, 2006.
Killswitch Engage played the Reading and Leeds Festival in August 2006, having already toured areas of Australia without Dutkiewicz, who suffered from back problems and needed corrective surgery. On May 23, 2006, the song “This Fire Burns” was released on the WWE Wreckless Intent album. The song was intended to be the new theme song for WWE superstar Randy Orton. However, it was scrapped and later became the pay-per-view Judgment Day 2006 theme song. “This Fire Burns” was used as the entrance theme for WWE superstar CM Punk and was later re-released as “This Fire” on the special edition of As Daylight Dies.
Recorded in three months, “As Daylight Dies” was released on November 21, 2006, and peaked at number 32 on the Top Billboard 200 with 60,000 sales in its first week. It also entered the Australian Albums Chart at number 29. Dutkiewicz mixed it.
The album’s first single, “My Curse”, appears in the games Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Burnout Paradise and is available as unlockable content in Rock Band, Rock Band 2 and Sleeping Dogs on Roadrunner radio. In early 2007, the band had to cancel three European tour dates with The Haunted due to Dutkiewicz’s back problem. He required emergency surgery and was replaced on tour by Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers.
Due to Dutkiewicz’s back problem in early 2007, he was replaced by Patrick Lachman, lead singer of Damageplan and The Mercy Clinic, during the No Fear Tour. Dutkiewicz recovered and finished the No Fear tour, and the band began filming their music video for “As Daylight Dies” second single, “The Arms of Sorrow”. On August 6, 2007, Dutkiewicz was forced to leave Warped Tour to recover from back surgery and continue daily physical therapy fully. He was replaced by Killswitch guitar tech Josh Mihlek to play the songs until his return on August 14, 2007.
Adam Dutkiewicz announced on the band’s official Facebook page that they had already begun producing their sixth album, which would later be titled “Disarm the Descent”.
The official single from the album was track number 4, “In Due Time”, released on February 5, 2013. Just over a month later, the band posted track number 3, “On their official YouTube channel,” The New Awakening”, but not counting as a single. The band went on a European tour and is already presenting their new album, released on April 2, 2013.
The new album contains 12 tracks plus four bonus tracks (from the Special Edition of the CD), two of which are live versions.
The album debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 with just over 48,000 copies sold in its debut week.
During the tour to promote the new CD, the band postponed their show in Oklahoma, in the United States, due to the tornado that devastated the region, and part of the ticket profits were donated to the victims of the region hit by the tornado.
In July 2013, drummer Justin Foley suffered a bicycle accident in which he fractured his collarbone, leaving him out of the rest of the tour to promote the new album in Europe/Asia. From the band, As I Lay Dying, Drummer Jordan Mancino replaced him until he recovered and returned to the band in October of the same year to perform at Monsters of Rock in a show televised by Multishow.In December 2013, it was announced that the single “In Due Time” from the album Disarm the Descent was nominated for the “Best Metal Performance” category at the 2014 Grammy Awards; thus, the band is competing for a Grammy award for the second time.
- Killswitch Engage (2000)
- Alive or Just Breathing (2002)
- The End of Heartache (2004)
- As Daylight Dies (2006)
- Killswitch Engage (2009)
- Disarm the Descent (2013)
- Incarnate (2016)
- Atonement (2019)