KsE

This is one of the best reviews of a band that i have ever read, for once someone actually took the time to find out the truth about a band instead of making ignorant assumptions about a band… I really like this review, Killswitch isn’t a Christian band, but they have many lyrics that can not be considered anything other than Christian… I’ve read so many reviews that are biased and completely wrong, but this one uses many references directly from songs and quotes from the singers, Howard currently, and Jesse before Howard… But not all the members are Christian, and shouldn’t always be expected to act like Christians, because not all of them are… I got this review from http://www.pluggedinonline.com/thisweekonly/a0003026.cfm


You’d be forgiven for thinking that Massachusetts metalcore band Killswitch Engage is all about death. After all, one look at the band’s latest release, As Daylight Dies, seems to confirm the obvious. Just scan down the list and select the categories that fit. Embracing death in the band’s name? Check. Death in the album’s title? Check. Death in the cover’s artwork? A misshapen skull leering through broken glass? Check. Death in the songs’ lyrics?

Uncheck.

I can’t remember the last time the old saw, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” has been more applicable. Despite Killswitch Engage’s ominous moniker and aggressive sound—fast, precise and crushing guitar work blended with the primal shrieks of lead screamer, er, singer, Howard Jones—the band’s fourth studio album is remarkably positive and deeply theological in its assessment of our broken society’s need for redemption.

Stealth Theology
In 2006 I mentioned Killswitch in our Plugged In Online series on the state of heavy metal today. I noted that while the band isn’t a Christian act, three of its five members do hail from a Christian background.

Perhaps that’s why some Christian ideas seem to shape a number of tracks on As Daylight Dies. These guys see the world as damaged beyond repair, yet they repeatedly allude to the possibility of personal and societal transformation—not to mention several songs that talk about faith and eternal life.

The title track sets the thematic stage. The starting point? Humanity’s fallenness: “We watch the degradation of the civilization/The rise and fall of all we are/… This place is evil/… This world is vile.” In response to such a bleak reality, the band counsels listeners to open their eyes and confront injustice. Jones exhorts, “Come past the lies/We cannot be so blind/Hear their cries.”

Killswitch thinks individual involvement can make a difference and alleviate suffering—not a common metal message. Indeed, even the quintessential rock humanitarian Bono would be hard put, I think, to pen a more eloquent call to action on behalf of the vulnerable and needy than what appears here (on the track “Reject Yourself,” in particular).

“This Is Absolution,” meanwhile, seems to trade in Bono for the Apostle Paul, boldly proclaiming, “They cannot break these chains of faith/… Never slaves to iniquity.” Not only do these lyrics reject sin (“iniquity”), they also testify that “death claims us no more” and thus instruct, “Do not grieve, end the suffering/We will live, live eternal.” How did Paul put it in Romans 6:8-10 and 22? “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. … Death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. … Now you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God … and the result is eternal life” (emphasis mine).

Christ Allusions
More references to Christ turn up on succeeding tracks. “For You” could merely be a pledge of romantic love, as its chorus promises, “I pledge my devotion/There is no turning/This heart is yours/I sacrifice for you.” But the last verse sounds more like a description of Jesus (to me, at least) than an ideal lover: “This is the everlasting/This is immortal/Your words are my inspiration/Your life, and image of perfection/For all you are, for all you’ve done/I strive to be in your reflection.”

Likewise, “Still Beats Your Name” finds a desperate man declaring allegiance to someone, perhaps God (“My pledge remains faithful to you/And my heart still beats your name”). Scriptural language again surfaces as he ponders, “Who knows how long I’ve been lost in the dark,” then asks, “What can I do to alter my perception of the way and the truth?” And just as Scripture affirms every individual’s worth, so Killswitch believes each person’s life has value: “The cost of one life/The price of one’s soul/Is too much to bear.”

“Desperate Times” includes the most obvious spiritual references on the album, as a loner identifies with Jesus’ suffering (“This is my daily crucifixion/And these rusty nails leave scars/My jagged crown is at my side/Anguish is never far”) and makes the same request as the thief on the cross next to Him did: “When all else fails/Remember me.” Given that context, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s God whom Jones is speaking to when he says, “Your voice means more to me than you’ll ever know/There’s no question/You’re the answer.”

Daylight Surprise
It’s no exaggeration to say that As Daylight Dies was one of the biggest musical surprises I’ve had in some time. Because the metal genre is characteristically so dark, I kept expecting the band to turn a nasty corner somewhere. But Killswitch Engage, despite its death-dealing name, never does so. (One breakup song meanders into overly melancholy territory, but even that track ends on a positive note.) Instead of wallowing in despair or alienation, the title of this album turns itself inside out, and the band delivers a stirring—at times prophetic—call to embrace humanity in its brokenness.

Even compared to CDs produced by some metal bands that self-consciously label themselves as Christian acts, then, As Daylight Dies acquits itself admirably. The one place band members sometimes stray isn’t on the album itself, but in interviews talking about it. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz in particular has a reputation as a jester, and profanity pops up as he talks with journalists. Nor is he afraid to regale interviewers with crazy stories about life on the road, which can include references to alcohol. (That’s worth keeping in mind for anyone who would expect the band’s live shows to replicate this CD.)

Before leaving the band in 2002, original lead singer Jesse Leach described his songwriting philosophy (in an interview segment not tarnished with profanity or alcohol). “I’m a religious person, but my lyrics, if anything, are spiritual,” he said. “The overall aura of my lyrics [is] definitely positivity, and I want people to get that out of it, you know. Whether it be gathering up some sort of hope or confidence, or feeling they can press forward by listening to the music. … So when I’m writing, I am thinking about the people who would be reading the lyrics and hopefully giving them something to latch on to.” Current frontman Howard Jones recently echoed those sentiments when he said, “Some of [my] material is similar to the songs Jesse wrote. Me and Jesse [were] raised the same way, and we talked about it. … I stayed pretty much in the positive vein.”

Metalcore fans who care about what it is they’re listening to couldn’t be happier that Jones hasn’t abandoned Leach’s thoughtfulness. And considering the bleak landscape they traverse, they could hardly be better served by the message Killswitch consistently delivers on As Daylight Dies.

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~ by bharter on September 30, 2007.

One Response to “KsE”

  1. KSE!

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