Killswitch Engage – Live at the Palladium
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 03/06/2022
Running Time: 71:00
Review by Rory Bentley
Taken from their two livestream specials from earlier this year, “Live at the Palladium” sees Massachusetts Metalcore legends KIllswitch Engage take to the stage in a very different environment from their usual sweat-soaked singathons, where a baying crowd roar back every syllable. This new lockdown necessity has affected each artist differently and some have suited the format better than others, but it’s hard to see playing in front of a film crew as anything but a disadvantage for Killswitch, who thrive on creating a party environment and whipping up a crowd in a way that few other bands are capable of. I’m getting this negative out of the way because it’s nobody’s fault and there’s still more than enough across these two sets to please any hardcore KIllswitch fan, of which I am most certainly one of.
The decision to play their latest album “Atonement” and their self-titled debut in full gives everything a unique big-event feel that makes the experience worthwhile and allows deeper cuts to come to the fore. It’s a bold move by a band whose bread and butter is peeling out back to back anthems that have become staples within Metal, but it’s a gamble that really pays off and stops this being just another live album. I’ll never tire of “My Last Serenade” and “Rose of Sharon” but this band has so many hidden gems and lesser played classics that it’s a shame that they don’t always get the same shine as the tried and tested hits.
My earliest thought when spinning this for the first time was that we all did “Atonement” dirty when it came out in 2020. Despite being better received than the somewhat patchy predecessor “Incarnate”, the response was lukewarm at the time with a lot of criticism that the band had settled into their groove and it was ‘just another Killswitch album’. While this is not entirely inaccurate, I would posit this question- how many of their peers are capable of this level of songwriting on such a consistent basis? When “Unleashed” roars out the traps it feels like the kind of song most bands could only dream of opening their set with. To then follow it up with future set staple “The Signal Fire” is just plain rude, even without the towering baritone of former singer Howard Jones on guest vocals the song is pure serotonin distilled into a world class chorus and razor sharp riff work.
The heart wrenching “I Am Broken Too” is somehow delivered with more passion and power than on the album and offers a touching statement of solidarity to those suffering from mental health issues. Jesse Leach really pours everything into this performance, reaching out through the sterile prism of the empty stage and straight into the gut. Which is nothing less than one would expect from one of the great frontmen of our time. In fact this whole set shows how much he has grown as a singer and lyricist. There was a time when his raw emotion often came at the expense of his technical ability, and while this was a trade off I never had a problem accepting, his transformation into a master of his instrument is a wonderful thing to bear witness to. Where once he strained and his pitch wavered, his soulful tenor soars above the frenetic guitar work of his bandmates to create some truly spine tingling moments, as demonstrated on ‘As Sure as The Sun Will Rise’ where he hits you right in the feels and dovetails beautifully with Adam D’s fantastic counter vocals and butter-smooth harmonies.
It sort of goes without saying that the band are inhumanly tight and that famous guitar tone is loud and proud throughout, benefiting from a stellar mixing job that gives clarity without ever sacrificing the filthy chugging crunch that propels every song into an infinite circle pit. Justin Foley hits with weight and precision on the kit and Mike D is ever reliable holding down the low-end grooves. Just another day at the office for these guys.
As much as I enjoyed the first set, the grimy Hardcore kid in me was salivating at the prospect of that first album getting a run through and good lord was I not dissappointed! To hear the squealing harmonics and Melodeath riffs of ‘In The Unblind’ is always a treat and it’s great to hear that despite becoming Mr Slick on the clean vocals, Jesse still sounds absolutely feral on the old material. ‘Irreversal’ should be played at every Killswitch show forever despite the fact that I may die horribly when they kick into the final beatdown, and ‘Temple from Within’ into ‘Vide Infra’ is about as good as hardcore one-twos get! Yes I said hardcore, stop folding your tatooed arms and recognise that they’ve got riffs that Earth Crisis wish they could write!
The icing on the cake comes from the inspired idea to close with ‘Just Barely Breathing’ from “Alive of Just Breathing”, which is one of my favourite songs by any band ever and it’s blasted out so aggressively you’d think the band’s instruments owe them money!
“Live at the Palladium” is one of those rare live albums that is actually worth having in your collection. It paints the new album in a different and more favourable light while reminding everyone that underneath the festival-crushing singalong band lies a group of rabid hardcore kids that haven’t lost touch with their underground roots and can still fucking GO!
‘Temple From Within’ Live at the Palladium
02. The Signal Fire
03. Us Against The World
04. The Crownless King
05. I Am Broken Too
06. As Sure As The Sun Will Rise
07. Know Your Enemy
08. Take Control
10. I Can’t Be the Only One
11. Bite the Hand That Feeds
12. Temple from Within
13. Vide Infra
15. Rusted Embrace
18. Numb Sickened Eyes
19. In the Unblind
20. Just Barely Breathing
Adam Dutkiewicz – Lead guitar
Joel Stroetzel – Rhythm guitar
Mike D’Antonio – Bass
Justin Foley – Drums
Jesse Leach – Vocals
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