Released: 2004, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
THE END OF HEARTACHE is a tell-tale record for Killswitch Engage since it is their second release (well, not really, but their self-titled debut was released on a small label, Ferret Records) and faces the possibility of the dreaded “sophomore slump.” Their last album, 2002’s ALIVE OR JUST BREATHING, was a solid metalcore record that solidified the band’s position among the new American metal elite with bands like God Forbid, Shadows Fall and Lamb of God. THE END OF HEARTACHE sees a change in vocalists as well as a new drummer from the last record. Howard Jones has some excellent clean vocals and he is able to growl and scream with the best of them. The drums on ALIVE OR JUST BREATHING were performed by guitarist/producer Adam Dutkiewicz but Justin Foley (from Jones’ other band Blood Has Been Shed) is a monster behind the kit. He is a “true” drummer and uses plenty of double bass, fills and rolls that escaped Dutkiewicz. Once again masterfully produced by Dutkiewicz, studio wizard Andy Sneap handled the mixing of the album, allowing all members to shine. A new lineup, a bigger budget (I’m assuming) and the buzz created from a massive first album should have made the band stretch to surpass it, but unfortunately they have not done that with THE END OF HEARTACHE. Despite the new lineup, this record isn’t a big change from the last one which is reflected in my rating.
“A Bid Farewell,” “Take This Oath” and “Breathe Life” showcase Jones’ range as he screams throughout the tracks but uses a nice clean vocal in the choruses. On the other hand, too much clean vocal befalls the title track as it comes off as more of an emo whine-fest. Joel Stroetzel’s leads and Dutkiewicz’ rhythm guitar are gigantic on this record and they even throw the odd quick solo in for good measure (“Breathe Life”). “When Darkness Falls” and “Declaration” are riff-laden songs with the latter being among their thrashier numbers with “Vide Infra” from ALIVE OR JUST BREATHING. “Hope Is…” features a chant of “WE WILL PREVAIL!!” that echoes through the chorus and is sure to get the moshpits circling and fists pumping the live shows. Two short instrumentals (“Inhale” and “And Embers Rise”) allow the band to show off their prowess on acoustic guitar and break up the action a bit, since every song literally bleeds into the next. One of the better tracks overall is “Rose of Sharyn,” which the band has wisely chosen to film a video for. This song has great crossover potential and will appeal to the thrash and hardcore crowd, as well as the mallcore kids.
THE END OF HEARTACHE sold more copies than any other Roadrunner release ever during its first week of release, so with the touring machine just gearing up behind it, this record will surely be the band’s most successful yet. I still prefer their last album to this one, but THE END OF HEARTACHE is still a great CD that will please fans of ALIVE OR JUST BREATHING and surely bring many new ones into the fold, as well.
KILLER KUTS: “A Bid Farewell,” “Take This Oath,” “Rose of Sharyn,” “Breathe Life”