21 Best Metal Albums of the 21st Century... So Far

#6: KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – THE END OF HEARTACHE

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SPECIAL GUEST BLOGGER NICK GREEN OF DECIBEL MAGAZINE

21best1killswitch_engage_-_the_end_of_heartache

We recently polled a wide array of musicians, managers, publicists, label reps, and writers from within the world of metal to find out what they thought the 21 Best Metal Albums of the 21st Century So Far have been. Eligible albums were released between January 1, 2000 and  April 1, 2009. Each panelist turned in a ballot, with their #1 album worth 21 points, their #2 album worth 20 points, and so on and so forth. The ballots are now in and we’ll be counting down one album a day until we reach #1. Today we present the #6 album, coming in with a total of 179 points…

Killswitch Engage, The End of Heartache (Roadrunner, 2004)
Howard Jones – Vocals
Adam Dutkiewicz – Guitars
Joel Stroetzel – Guitars
Mike D’Antonio – Bass
Justin Foley – Drums
Produced by Adam Dutkiewicz

It’s worth noting that Howard Jones devoted almost all of his allotted space in the “thank you” section of the liner notes to apologizing to fans for changing the chemistry of Killswitch Engage on The End of Heartache. His note is sensitive, contrite and nearly as long as the lyrics of “Hope Is…,” which ironically conveys the exact same sentiment with a hint more poetry and obfuscation. Not that he really needed to say “sorry” for anything, since the group’s previous full-length, Alive or Just Breathing, benefited enormously from Jones vocals in a live setting. Still, sometimes it’s nice to have it all spelled out and entered into the ledger, so you can simultaneously focus on the present and shut the door on an uneasy chapter in your own band’s history. So, thanks for that.

Upon its release, The End of Heartache was promoted as the new face of metalcore, but Killswitch Engage hasn’t spawned as many imitators as originally predicted. This may have something to do with the fact that the band’s touring commitments kept them from returning to the studio to record a follow-up for two years and, more importantly, kept Adam D from reproducing the signature sound on other band’s records. The band’s sound isn’t exactly “timeless” – even if its pitch-perfect cover of “Holy Diver” certainly was – but the songs on The End of Heartache offered a perfect mix of technical prowess and emotional heft in a truly commercial vein. That’s no mean feat, considering Cave In tried something similar with Antenna and totally crapped the bed.

Of course, it’s not a perfect album. My own mixtape edit waves “buh-bye” to “A Bid Farewell” and omits “And Embers Rise” (which might as well be the theme for One Tree Hill). But everything else on The End of Heartache packs a punch, and as a song cycle about love, loss and redemption, it definitely tugs at the heartstrings. I guess I’m just a huge pussy for tearing up the last time I heard “Rose of Sharyn” played live, but that song never fails to transport me to a place where I was young and dumb and not even sure where I would wake up in the morning. The record’s charms are simple and supple. And for something that’s so poised on the axis of guilt and regret, it’s surprisingly easy to sit back and just be a “fan.” This was a career-defining moment; it won’t be easy to listen to anything else Killswitch Engage does without prejudice.

-Nick Green

THE LIST SO FAR:

#7 – Lamb of God, Ashes of the Wake

#8 – In Flames, Clayman

#9 – Gojira, From Mars to Sirius

#10 – Opeth, Ghost Reveries

#11 – Deftones, White Pony

#12 – Tool, Lateralus

#13 – Mastodon, Blood Mountain

#14 – System of a Down, Toxicity

#15 – Nachtmystium, Assassins: Black Meddle, Part 1

#16 – Machine Head, The Blackening

#17 – Hatebreed, Perseverance

#18 – Lamb of God, New American Gospel

#19 – Mastodon, Remission

#20 – Shadows Fall, The War Within

#21 – Slipknot, Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses

THE PANEL OF VOTERS

Chris Adler, Lamb of God
Dan And, Bison B.C.
Ben Apatoff, Apatoff for Destruction
/Metal Injection
Jason Bittner, Shadows Fall
Tim Brennan, Ferret Music/Channel Zero Entertainment
Freddy Cai, Painkiller Magazine
Ian Christe, Bazillion Points
Reverend David J. Ciancio, Yeah! Management
Betsey Cichoracki, Relapse Records
Paul Conroy, Ferret Music/Channel Zero Entertainment
J. Costa, Thy Will Be Done
Dallas Coyle, ex-God Forbid/Coyle Media
Doc Coyle, God Forbid
CT, Rwake
Anso DF, MetalSucks/Hipsters Out of Metal!
Vince Edwards, Metal Blade Records
Charles Elliott, Abysmal Dawn/Nuclear Blast Records
Brian Fair, Shadows Fall
Leo Ferrante, Warner Music Group
D.X. Ferris, author 33 1/3: Reign in Blood/Freelance Journalist
Mike Gitter, Roadrunner Records
Nick Green, Decibel
Matt Grenier, August Burns Red
Anthony Guzzardo, Earache Records
Kevin Hufnagel, Dysrhythmia
Mark Hunter, Chimaira
Steve Joh, Century Media
EJ Johantgen, Prosthetic Records
Kim Kelly, Metal Injection
/Hails & Horns/Freelance Journalist
Josh “The J” Key, Psychostick
Jason Lekberg, Epic Records
Eyal Levi, Daath
Bob Lugowe, Relapse Records
Matt McChesney, The Autumn Offering
Jake McReynolds,
Psychostick
Marc Meltzer, The Syndicate
Josh Middleton, Sylosis
Matt Moore, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder
Vince Neilstein, MetalSucks
Sammy O’Hagar, MetalSucks
Anton OyVey, MetalSucks/Bacon Jew
Rob Pasbani, Metal Injection

Alex Preiss, Psychostick
Carlos Ramirez, NoiseCreep/Universal Music Group
Brian Rocha, Fresno Media USA
Jeremy Rosen, Roadrunner Records
Axl Rosenberg, MetalSucks
Satan Rosenbloom, MetalSucks/Cerebral Metalhead
David Bee Roth, MetalSucks
Jason Rudolph, Heavy Hitter, Inc.

Amy Sciarretto, Roadrunner Records/NoiseCreep
Carl Severson, Ferret Music/Channel Zero Entertainment
Gary Suarez, MetalSucks/No Yoko No/Brainwashed
Geoff Summers, The End Records/Crustcake
Bram Teitelman, The Syndicate/Metal Insider
Alisha Turull, Heavy Hitter, Inc.
Christopher R. Weingarten, 1000TimesYes/Freelance Journalist

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