Killswitch Engage
Alive or Just Breathing


4.5
superb

Review

by Mark/Angel USER (7 Reviews)
July 11th, 2011 | 44 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Back with one final resounding metalcore punch after their debut and before the departure of vocalist Jesse Leach, Alive Or Just Breathing marks the peak before a long creative downfall which hasn't quite been recovered from yet.

Back in 2002, a relatively unknown metalcore band from Massachusetts released their sophomore album through RoadRunner Records. Unfortunately the band appear to have fallen from grace since. However, this album is still being quoted today as one of the finest moments in metal history, and rightly so. Whilst retaining the aggression from their first album, Killswitch Engage have also included more melodic elements and variety on this release, with some impressive results.

Comparing this band’s debut and sophomore album, it is astonishing how far this band has improved. Granted, there is still the pounding metalcore,but the band have tightened and branched out their sound. This diversity becomes evident in songs like “My Last Serenade” withits relaxing harp intro and “Just Barely Breathing” with its use of tremolo in the pre-chorus. The inclusion of acoustic interludes is used as an effective contrast, especially in the build-up to the rumbling anthem “Rise Inside”.

It is impossible to speak of Killswitch Engage without giving due attention to its vocalist, the versatile Jesse Leach. From just one man come the high-pitched shrieks, shouts, guttural growls, whispers, and clean vocals upon which the album rests. Leach is an incredibly passionate performer and lyricist; his lyrical topics cover life’s positive and negative aspects, ranging from unity and compassion to a wake-up call directed at those who are “just breathing” rather than truly living. The line “No-one is placed higher than another/No matter race or creed or gender” from Vide Infra is a personal favorite.

Despite diversifying their sound, Killswitch Engage have also tightened it as mentioned.The production has been kicked up a notch, and the muddy guitars of the debut now sound crisp and polished. Fans of the lo-fi production may not like this, but I believe it enhances the experience. Being able to hear the bass and drums accurately makes all the difference, and everything unites together in harmony. Even the songs taken from the debut have been given this makeover, and accurately show the transition that the band has made.

In short, Killswitch Engage have made an enormous leap from their debut to create an impressive lasting album that is well worth checking out. If you like groovy metalcore with tight musicianship and thought-provoking lyrics, then I highly recommend this release.

Rating: 9.5/10

Originally posted at http://www.mostlymetal.wordpress.com



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user ratings (1763)
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
BigHans
July 11th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good job, album rules. Fixation on the Darkness is my favorite Metalcore song.

Psychopathologist
July 11th 2011


1924 Comments


album sucks, learn2metalcore people

BigHans
July 11th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

shut up Fade

Psychopathologist
July 11th 2011


1924 Comments


who

KILL
July 11th 2011


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

true metal for true metal heads

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

PurpleDino
July 11th 2011


3076 Comments


album r00lz

Darkvoid67
July 11th 2011


383 Comments


Album sucks. I jest, never heard it but if I base my initial opinion of what I have heard from this band, its cheesy generic metalcore

Psychopathologist
July 11th 2011


1924 Comments


maybe this wasnt that generic back in 2002 but yea, album is bad

BigHans
July 11th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

not br00tal enough for ya Fade?

Psychopathologist
July 11th 2011


1924 Comments


stop trying so hard

Tyrael
July 11th 2011


20877 Comments


Hey Hans I didn't know you were into generic metalcore as well

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

KILL
July 11th 2011


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

my last serenade is so gay

PurpleDino
July 11th 2011


3076 Comments


darkvoid

this album is completely different to all of their new material, its not cheesy in the slightest
this album isn't really generic, it invented the generic we see today

krig9412
July 11th 2011


794 Comments


^No it did not.

Christ, has NO ONE heard of Poison the Well?

PurpleDino
July 11th 2011


3076 Comments


okay maybe Poison The Well were more influential on modern metalcore, but this album sounds nothing like PTW, so it still isn't generic

Ssssssss
July 11th 2011


683 Comments


Lol at Psychopathologist telling people not to try hard. Kinda ironic

FearThyEvil
July 11th 2011


12547 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's sad to see how bad this band fell apart when Howard jumped in.

bloc
July 11th 2011


34854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Beginning groove to My Last Serenade is classic

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 11th 2011


50380 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Their guitarists weren't good yet

Digging: Viper the Rapper - You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack

bloc
July 11th 2011


34854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

They never became that good tbh



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