Killswitch Engage emerged from western Massachusetts in 1999 from the ashes of Overcast and Aftershock. Guitarist/Drummer Adam Dutkoewicz (Aftershock) and bassist Mike D’Antonio (Overcast) joined forces with vocalist Jesse Leach, drummer Justin Foley and guitarist Joel Stroetzel to create what has become one of the most influential and recognized metalcore bands of all time. Killswitch Engage have mastered the art of blending the raw energy of west coast hardcore with their own brand of refined metalcore that has taken the World by storm. After two decades, the quintet are showing no signs of slowing down as they have just released their eighth studio album, Atonement. In support of the new album, Killswitch are currently on the road with their good friends in August Burns Red and Light The Torch (featuring the one and only Howard Jones!).
The Atonement Tour rolled into the beautiful halls of the historic Fillmore Auditorium in Denver this past week. After a global pandemic, postponed tours, and pent up energy that demanded to be released, fans were out in droves in anticipation for the night’s festivities. Anyone who was even remotely familiar with Killswitch Engage knew they had to get there early to ensure they wouldn’t miss Light The Torch. Led by vocalist Howard Jones (formerly of Killswitch Engage), Light the Torch was greeted by a packed house. The set kicked off with a thunderous applause for Howard as he was joined on stage by guitarist Francesco Artusato, bassist Ryan Wombacher, and drummer Alex Rüdinger. The high octane energy of “More Than Dreaming” and “Calm Before the Storm” had the crowd moshing, singing their hearts out, and banging their heads from the very beginning of the set. The stage presence of Howard Jones demanded the crowd’s attention. The vocal delivery was one of the best I’ve seen. The guitar tones were heavy and the drum and bass tempos mimicked those of a metronome, flawless. The ten song set bounced back and forth between the band’s two album discography, Revival and You Will Be The Death Of Me. I really hope we see more from Light The Torch going forward.
Next up was the mighty August Burns Red. Guitarists JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler, drummer Matt Greiner, vocalist Jake Luhrs and bassist Dustin Davidson tore the roof off the Fillmore Auditorium last Thursday night. With nine albums under their belt and relentless touring over the years, August Burns Red are no strangers to the metalcore scene. The high octane set kicked off with a throwback to “Truth of a Liar” from their 2007 classic release, Messengers. Fans old and new came together as if it were a big ol’ family reunion. Moshing, hugging and head banging in unison, you couldn’t help but smile knowing that live music was making a comeback. The guitars pierced through the PA speakers at just the right levels as plums of smoke were fired from air cannons that lined the stage. Laser lights bounced off of the shimmering chandeliers that hung proud from the auditorium ceiling. It was a beautiful sight. The ten song set spanned a lot of the bands discography and included tracks from Guardians, Phantom Anthem, and Constellations just to name a few. The band even threw in their version of a cover of the The Legend of Zelda theme into the mix. The constant movement on stage and the masterful musicianship held the audience’s attention from start to finish. If you’ve been sleeping on seeing August Burns Red live over their years, you’re messing up.
Finally the time had come. Killswitch Engage charged on stage like a freight train. Known for their high energy and on-stage antics, the Massachusetts headbangers haven’t missed a beat from the downtime of the past couple of years. The set kicked off with the opening track of Atonement, “Unleashed.” The floor went into a frenzy and crowd surfers instantly started pouring over the barricade into the arms of what I must say was one of the nicest security teams that I’ve worked alongside. Jesse Leach and the boys covered every inch of that stage. From the aggressive screams of “Know Your Enemy” to the perfectly harmonized chorus of “My Last Serenade,” dare I say that Killswitch sounded better than ever. The voices from the crowd overpowered the sound system at times while the walls shook from the thunderous bass. Once again the set spanned the band’s discography. However, what fans really wanted was a special appearance from the man himself, Howard Jones. Obviously, the vocal legend wasn’t going to let anyone down. Jones joined Killswitch for their three song encore that consisted of “Rose of Sharyn,” “The End of Heartache,” and their latest single that features Jones, “Signal Fire.” There’s nothing better than seeing a band who has a genuine passion for what they are doing. The love for music and the love for one another is always felt at a Killswitch show. The energy levels are unmatched and the excitement on the stage always pours into the crowd. This leg of their North American tour is coming to an end, but I hope Killswitch brings that freight train back across the US sooner than later. Thanks for another unforgettable show, gents’.
– Corey Smith