Killswitch Engage – Top 15 New Wave of American Heavy Metal Albums
Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:11:17
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These are the albums that defined the aughts.
The '00s were quite a fertile period for heavy music. So much so that the press and fans anointed the era "The New Wave of American Heavy Metal" or "The New Wave of American Metal." Same difference. MTV resurrected Headbanger's Ball, with Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed installed as the host. Late night TV shows, like Jimmy Kimmel Live!, were booking the bands of the era to perform with increasing frequency throughout the decade. Yes, those firebreathing noise merchants in The Dillinger Escape Plan played Conan and things were never, ever the same.
If you require more proof that the public and media hungered for metal equally, well, think about how Ozzfest ballooned, inviting heavier bands to play both the main and the side stages. The annual heavy metal summer camp was eventually immobilized and replaced by The Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, which also grew exponentially and played sheds.
Most impressive were the sales numbers of these bands. Albums repeatedly went platinum and gold, with the likes of Slipknot, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God and Atreyu notching RIAA certifications and awards for achieving monster sales. More notable was the fact that you could turn on the radio and hear these same bands on the dial and not always after midnight on specialty shows.
Do we even need to mention the Grammy nominations? It made us realize that people with their ears to the underground and in possession of a keen knowledge of the aggressive music scene were influencing the balloting, since extreme bands were notching noms. It wasn't as though this was further atonement for the Jethro Tull gaffe that still haunts the metal category today; it was an institution recognizing and supporting a movement!
Hands down—the '00s were a legit and rich era for heavy metal. These are the albums that defined the period.
3. Killswitch Engage – Alive Or Just Breathing
This album didn't only put Killswitch Engage on the map as one of the most important forces in heavy metal, but it also turned all eyes towards Massachusetts. The state hadn't been known for this kind of music up until the release of Alive Or Just Breathing in 2002. It's a special record for many reasons. The union of Jesse Leach [lead vocals], Joel Stroetzel [lead guitar, rhythm guitar], Mike D'Antonio [bass], Adam Dutkiewicz [guitars, piano, backing vocals, & even drums back then, yes drums!] yielded something different. The record stood alone. The deft fretwork made for a tight and taught musical backdrop for Leach to scream and sing, exorcising demons, while examining his own spiritual journey. Outside of Tool, metal rarely gets this thought-provoking. Simultaneously, the rhythmic patchwork merged metal and punk like no other.
The album reminded the world that metal didn't have to adhere to any guidelines or expectations. There was a musical unpredictability that felt so welcome, while Dutkiewicz donning a cape and all other kinds of amazing costumes on stage further fostered that feeling and sentiment. It felt like there were no rules again when Alive or Just Breathing dropped. Isn't that the point of heavy music in the first place? Should you be able to do whatever the hell you want?
That brings us to the music itself. The booming and bombastic opener "Numbered Days" felt wonderfully ominous, welcoming listeners into Killswitch's sphere before effectively bludgeoning them. "Self Revelation" felt like an encouragement for the genre itself, while "Fixation on the Darkness" remains one the group's thrashiest signature bruisers. The single "My Last Serenade" tempered melodies and metal so seamlessly, while allowing everything to converge on an appropriate instrumental explosion of force punctuated by Leach's delivery.
Watch the Music Video for "My Last Serenade" from Killswitch Engage:
See the other artists and albums on our Top Top 15 New Wave of American Heavy Metal Albums feature!