After a successful run of shows with PARKWAY DRIVE earlier in the year, American metalcore band KILLSWITCH ENGAGE returned to the UK for a run of shows and took over London’s Brixton Academy on a Sunday night!
Before KILLSWITCH ENGAGE took to the stage, Boston death metal band REVOCATION got the crowd’s blood pumping with their metalcore breakdowns and heavy riffs, already having an enthusiastic response from the audience from the offset. REVOCATION brought a unique sound to the mix, vocalist David Davidson‘s vocals being consistently gritty & heavy whilst occupied by skilled fast paced guitars and unstoppable beats of the drums. The entire band make the most of the stage and allow the crowd to get a good look at their high energy performance from every side of the room.
Next up was the main event, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. This was my third time seeing them but my first with them as headliners, and I soon learnt this was long overdue. The packed out room seems restless as they await the band to take the stage, which had an intricate set up of a huge banner with their latest album’s, Atonement, artwork, three podiums at the back also adorning the artwork whilst drummer Justin Foley propped on the middle podium, looking over the stage as light flashes from behind, illuminating everything in it’s path. The set up is on the simpler side but it’s effective, and to top it off in the middle is a small platform, of which the members make the most of.
Kicking off the show with ‘Unleashed‘, the first track from their latest album, with vocalist Jesse Leach appearing on the back podium, before slowly ascending to the main stage with his powerful voice and demanding stage presence, the room is filled to the brim with fans, from the start singing along. The band as a whole put a lot of effort into making the most of the stage, especially lead guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz whose unique approach to performing in a metal band with an interesting headpiece and constant jumping around the stage means the crowd is entertained throughout.
One of the best aspects of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE is their passion, for both their music and advocating for mental health, not being afraid to highlight issues, Jesse Leach becoming especially political before The Signal Fire, another hit from their latest album. With over 20 years worth of material, they manage to bring a varied selection of songs throughout the years despite this being the Atonement tour, and although the crowd seems to sing along well to the newer songs, it’s hardly comparable to the reaction when they hear the first chords of classics such as ‘In Due Time‘, ‘My Last Serenade‘ and ‘My Curse‘ – each one performed immaculately. A personal highlight was ‘Always‘, a song that I still can’t believe a metal band created as it’s in the top 3 most beautiful songs out there. The tone is brought down as Leach hits every melodic note perfectly whilst still giving a powerful performance, each time I see this masterpiece live I am thankful this band acknowledges how important a song it is, despite not being their heaviest, it’s one of their best.
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE round off the Sunday, which Leach announces ‘Sundays are for roast dinners & handjobs’, thanking everyone for coming out to see them at the week’s end. All night the crowd will have anticipated this moment as they end the night on a high with their famous cover of DIO‘s ‘Holy Diver‘. Ending their 17 song strong set, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE proved they still have it twenty years on.