Killswitch EngageCalling Killswitch Engage “metalcore” is just unfair seeing as they helped pioneer this style of playing (in America, anyway), but it’s understandable that they sometimes get lumped into this category based on the fucktard kids that frequent their shows. To be fair, we can’t blame the band for their idiot fans. But am I crazy, or should the shit-for-brains fucks who started a moshpit in the center of the floor BEFORE THE SHOW EVEN STARTED all be dickslapped across the face? In any case, Killswitch Engage made a triumphant return to New York City tonight at the Roseland Ballroom, playing to a sold out crowd with fellow headbangers Chimaira and Dragonforce supporting. Throw all the blame you want at Howard Jones and co. for all the generic metalcore bands that followed, but the fact of the matter is that Killswitch is just such a good band, and no one does it better than they do; Killswitch is at the top of the modern metal heirarchy, and tonight they proved why, even with their eclectic guitarist Adam D sitting out this tour.

Axl and I arrived too late for He Is Legend, whose MySpace tunes I’ve been digging lately, but we did catch most of Chimaira’s set. To say that the Cleveland-based metallers were tight, polished, and insanely brutal would all be understatements. Chimaira overwhelmed. This band is just getting better and better with time, and I feel it’s only a matter of time before they are embraced by the metal community with the same warmth shown Lamb of God. Highlights included the anthemic “The Dehumanizing Process” and “Pure Hatred,” but the evening’s true standout was the live debut of the crushing new track “Empire,” a song so brutal the stage could barely contain it.

Dragonforce was exceptional as well; their musicianship is unmatched. But the problem with a band like this is that it DOES get old after a short while… the shredding and rock God poses are fun, sure. And if anyone appreciates great musicianship, it’s me. But after a while, you want a little dynamic. You can’t pound a girl doggy-style every time or you’ll get sick of it. Take note, Dragonforce; it’s the motion of the ocean, not the size of the wave.

The big talk before this concert of course was how the band would be without their guitarist Adam D., who is sitting out this leg of the tour with a back injury (See last week’s post about Adam D’s back injury and his love of beef jerky). Would his replacement, Halford / Diesel Machine guitarist and ex-Damageplan vocalist Patrick Lachman, be able to fill his shoes? The answer was as pretty much everyone expected; Lachman was certainly a fine fill-in on guitar and seemed to fit in well with the band, but no one can replace Adam D’s unique stage presence. Only one man can actually pull of the cape and daisy dukes look and get away with it. Lachman and guitarist Joel Stroetzel took turns singing Adam D’s vocal parts, neither particularly well, but just well enough. Also sorely lacking were Adam D’s ubiquitous poop/fart jokes and dude-love commentary in between songs. But life goes on. Interestly, Stroetzel took over at least 75% of Adam D’s lead licks while Lachman played mostly parts that Stroetzel had played live in the past.

The band was certainly still entertaining enough even without Adam D. Howard Jones was as pumped as I’ve seen him in my three times seeing this band live, fiercely running around the stage, jumping up and down, and alternating between his growl and his Mike Patton-esque singing voice. Stroetzel was in excellent form, waving his mop-top to and fro and wearing the same “Skid Row” t-shirt that I have seen him wear every single time I see this band (seriously). Mike D’Antonio is entertaining to watch for his theatric bass swings and his patented point-and-wink-to-a-member-of-the-audience stage moves. And Justin Foley… have you seen this dude’s beard lately?? So metal it puts the Mastodon boys to shame. (Not to mention his wicked drum chops).

Killswitch had a great mix of songs from all three of their full-length albums, nicely interweaving the more aggressive numbers with the slower ones. The band unexpectedly played the B-Side “This Fire Burns” in the middle of their set. For the perfect encore they chose “My Last Seranade” and then the VERY unexpected but amazingly excellent cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver” which made its way around the Internet last summer. Great choice playing that song live, guys, great choice. I highly approve, as did the dude behind me who kept screaming for you to play it. (“Yeah, right,” I thought. But he made me eat my words.)

Despite the karate chop morons in the pit, this show was solid. But I’ll definitely be waiting to see Killswitch again, with Adam D. next time around. My guess is that they’ll take an offer from a package tour this summer. Until then, send Adam D. your beef jerky; he needs it to get well.


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