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Killswitch Engage - Garage, London - August 4 2013 (Live Review)

Thursday, 08 August 2013 Written by Alec Chillingworth

This gig should have been a crowning moment for Killswitch Engage. Having returned to action with original vocalist Jesse Leach, it seemed that the band's well-deserved headline slot at Hevy Fest was another step towards grander things. Alas, Hevy was then downgraded to a single day event at Brixton Academy. A bit of a blow, but still, so far, so good. Brixton's a colossal deal for most bands, especially ones within the heavier realms of music. It's not too shabby, let's put it that way.

Then, that was cancelled too. Luckily for their many fans, Killswitch arrived on these shores anyway, for a show at the minuscule Garage in Islington. The venue almost seems too weak to brace itself for the titanic slabs of metal coming its way but then, the news hits. The bands have been delayed due to a cycling event and a football game. Don't ask what football game it is - until last year David Seaman was a fictional character to this mind. 

Fans are kept waiting outside for what seems like forever, only to be hurried into a tiny holding area upstairs, where everyone proceeds to sweat on each other while trying (and failing) to stay alive via the medium of perilously expensive drinks.

Once finally inside the main hall, it doesn't seem to matter that the Garage's leather furniture and the crowd has melded into one mutated being. Hatebreed are on stage and they're absolutely killing it. Kicking things off with the monumental double assault of Everybody Bleeds Now and In Ashes They Shall Reap, the band are firing on all cylinders and pissing oil all over the joint.

Within the first few minutes of the show, frontman Jamey Jasta has the crowd whipped into a frenzy, even hopping onto the barrier and giving the front few rows a piece of the action. The man is a natural performer, cracking jokes about Killswitch being late because of their 'tight jeans' one minute and demanding circle pits the next. Even for Hatebreed-sceptics, their status in a live environment is unquestionable. Destroy Everything is such a massive tune that you would be a fool to think another act could follow it.

Except, of course, Killswitch Engage are headlining. Sauntering on stage and launching straight into New Awakening from this year's tremendous 'Disarm The Descent' album, it's plain to see that Killswitch are here to conquer. It doesn't matter that they're two hours late. It doesn't matter that the sound tech seems to have fallen asleep and drowned Leach’s vocals. This is a band in their element, and they don't let up for one second.

Songs are mainly plucked from the new album or Leach’s previous outing with the band, 'Alive Or Just Breathing'. The fact that the recent material sits so well with the classics proves just how relevant Killswitch still are in today's metal scene. Reactions to songs like Fixation On The Darkness are sometimes even overridden by the ravenous applause given to stuff like The Hell In Me, which pummels the crowd into the floor in a flurry of blast beats and throat-shredding screams. Hell, they even neglect My Last Serenade and Holy Diver. That's how strong these new songs are.

Throughout Killswitch Engage's lengthy career, the thing that seems to have garnered them the most criticism isn't anything to do with the actual music they produce. People just happen to get annoyed at their guitarist, Adam D. Some say he's obnoxious. Some say he's outspoken. Some say that he's just downright rude. Tonight, he is all of those things, but that's what makes this gig so damn special.

The man spews a fountain of verbal diarrhoea, “Fuck the trains! Sleep on the streets!”, but he then flips into 'guitar virtuoso mode', feverishly tapping the fretboard while covering his eyes, flexing his muscles, and generally being a bit of a show-off. He’s a real talent, and while his Please Don't Die, Jesse song grates a tiny bit, it's not really all that annoying. Plus, Leach's gone offstage (he's suffering from food poisoning and needs a minute to compose himself) and at least the band aren't just stood there. Adam D is a true entertainer, and he absolutely owned this show.

Killswitch Engage should have been catapulted into the next tier of touring bands with this show. Instead, what we've been given is something not as monumental, but possibly even more special. Killswitch are never going to play a venue like this again. Ending with an unbeatable duo of My Curse and The End Of Heartache, the band leave the stage victorious, despite the odds being stacked against them. If you were here, you were a part of history. If you weren't...well, tough luck.



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