Released: 2005, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Killswitch Engage’s rise to superstardom has not been without its obstacles. Assembled from various Massachusetts hardcore bands like Overcast and Aftershock, the band released its self-titled debut on Ferret Records in 2000 but soon landed a deal with Roadrunner Records. With the light shining brightly, vocalist Jesse Leach impulsively left the band high-and-dry just as breakthrough album, ALIVE OR JUST BREATHING, was released in 2002. Drummer Tom Gomes left soon after but without missing a beat, Blood Has Been Shed growler Howard Jones replaced Leach and the vastly-superior Justin Foley (also from Blood Has Been Shed) replaced Gomes. That lineup recorded THE END OF HEARTACHE, tore up Ozzfest and toured relentlessly, bringing in fans left, right and center from across heavy music’s genres.
The band’s first DVD, (SET THIS) WORLD ABLAZE was recorded in their native Massachusetts at Worcester’s notorious venue, The Palladium. Killswitch tears through a seventy-minute set of the best material from ALIVE OR JUST BREATHING and THE END OF HEARTACHE with several thousand fans there to party. Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel are guitar powerhouses, their dual leads and shred-offs making the already delectable melodies of “A Bid Farewell,” “Rose of Sharyn” and “My Last Serenade” all the more catchy. Howard Jones’ commanding stage presence locks the viewer’s eye on him on the punishing “Vide Infra,” while his soulful croon on “Breathe Life” and “The End of Heartache” are heavenly. Justin Foley, one of the most underrated drummers in metal, is an absolute machine behind the kit, utilizing every inch of his stripped-down set for maximum potential without blazing into “look at me” showmanship. Killswitch is clearly at the top of its game here and having seen them several times over the years, the blistering set is nearly flawless.
Besides the show, four of the band’s promotional videos are included: “My Last Serenade,” “Fixation On The Darkness,” “Rose of Sharyn” and “The End of Heartache.” But the real draw is the ninety-minute documentary, “From The Bedroom To The Basement.” Covering the band’s meteoric rise from its early days right through to Ozzfest 2005, archival footage, interviews with current and former band members, family (Stroetzel’s painfully supportive mother is every band member’s dream) and other metal bands (Soilwork, God Forbid, Shadows Fall, Slipknot , In Flames and All That Remains, to name a few) take the viewer along for a comprehensive look of what shaped this incredibly influential band. Fascinating for a real fan of the band and even interesting to someone curious of how the hot Massachusetts metal scene has grown into its current status.
Machine Head (ELEGIES) and Lamb of God (KILLADELPHIA) recently released DVDs packed with sizzling live shows and behind-the-scenes material and Killswitch Engage can join ranks with them in terms of quality, packaging and breadth of material. (SET THE) WORLD ABLAZE is a benchmark in metal DVDs, pure and simple. Even though they are nearly seven years into their career, Killswitch Engage has just begun and with a new album due in October 2006, the sky is the limit.