Killswitch Engage wsg Lamb of God, Testament, Huntress
The Orbit Room, Grand Rapids
Nov. 20, 6 p.m.
$35.50 advance, $39 day of show
orbitroom.com, (616) 942-1328
Since 1999, Killswitch Engage has been widely recognized as one of the bands that helped propel metalcore into the mainstream with its 2002 album, Alive or Just Breathing. That very same year, however, lead vocalist Jesse Leach decided to part ways with the group rather unexpectedly, leaving the rest of the band scratching their heads.
"At first it was very awkward when Jesse left," said Mike D'Antonio, who plays bass. "But we're pretty easygoing guys. We were going out to see his band, and he actually sang on a bunch of our records. There were no hard feelings."
The void was filled by Howard Jones, previously of Blood Has Been Shed, who laid down the vocals for the band's next three albums. But after the release of the band's second self-titled record in 2009, the momentum began to slow.
"We had taken a couple of years off and didn't really know what was going on with the band," D'Antonio said. "I was pretty bummed we were taking so much time off, but we were doing what we needed to do during that two years. It's really hard to not be on stage for that time. It's like the best drug in the world being on stage."
But as the band was in the process of working on its sixth studio album, there was need for a frontman yet again, as Jones stepped down from the position due to health reasons. So the search began and auditions were held. Eventually, they landed on a familiar candidate with the return of Jesse Leach.
"Jesse's grown up a lot since those days; you can really tell," D'Antonio said. "For us old guys who have been at it 14 years, it's good to have new blood."
While the music for Killswitch's newest album, Disarm the Decent, had already been written prior to Leach's rejoining, that renewed energy, coupled with the band's familiarity with one another, allowed him to lay down some of the best vocal tracks of his career.
"It feels like a real band all over again," he said. "It kind of hasn't in a while, and we owe it all to Jesse."