Killswitch Engage live in Bristol 2019

Bristol, city of culture and anything art related, was the host of this massive show at the o2 Academy. Although on a Tuesday you’d normally expect to see a half-filled room, this was a sold out show and masses of metalheads from many different areas gathered up to see the band that changed many people’s lives. The last time Killswitch Engage toured the UK in February, Bristol was unfortunately not one of their destinations, so stopping here this time gave their fans the opportunity to see them closer to home.
Killswitch Engage EU Tour 2019 poster
The good thing about the o2 Academy is that if you are with the o2 network, you are able to skip the ridiculously long queues and be one of the first people inside the venue. In this case, anybody with this advantage should be thankful because of the absolute lack of space, trying to even see the stage, when everybody had finally made it inside.
The opening band, who are currently supporting these musical giants on tour across Europe until 10th November, is Tenside from Munchen, Germany. They didn’t hold back and leaped straight into their first song “This is What We Die For”, from their 2017 album “Convergence”. Even if the crowd was not familiar with this energy-bursting quadruple, it was very clear that they were accepted almost immediately and definitely had everything in them to successfully take up such a big task of opening for Killswitch Engage. Songs followed by “Eternal Contempt” and “Unbreakable”, from the same album which got more and more heads banging. Vocalist Daniel Kuhlemann managed to take the room from 0 to 100 within the short space of about 10 minutes, with his mighty roaring vocals, guiding the excited audience through their next songs “Reborn”, “As Above So Below” and “Iron Will & Golden Heart”. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and as Kuhlemann was introducing the last song of the set, “Faith Over Fears”, he requested: “Last song, nobody in this room is gonna stand fucking still”, which opened up a well sized mosh pit to finish off this fantastic starter.
Next on the bill were Boston, Massachusetts based Revocation bringing their aggressive yet very technical death metal melodies to the hungry, ravaged crowds. Stomping like a madman on the stage was David Davidson, one of the two vocalists/guitarists in this band. “The Outer Ones” was the first song, from their latest studio album released in 2018 and Davidson delivered the vocals with other guitarist and vocalist Dan Gargiulo in a both fantastic and powerful way, complementing each other and driving this machine of a band with force through the set list. The audience was reciprocating the band’s insane energy with the carried on mosh pits across the entire main venue floor, mainly to “one of the fastest ones” as stated by Davidson. “Of Unworldly Origin”, also from “The Outer Ones” album brought the roof down as one of the most brutal songs of the entire night. Ending their furious set with “Dismantle the Dictator”, Revocation have truly heated up the crowds and pits for the big dogs, who were on next.
If you are even slightly into metal, chances are you will have heard of Boston based 5-piece Killswitch Engage, which were the headliners of the night. With their 8th studio album, “Atonement”, having only been released in August, the band have been touring the USA, Europe and beyond almost continuously since last year and are currently supporting the release of the album in Europe. After getting their final checks done, the band wasted no time and jumped straight into their first song from the new album, as Jesse Leach screamed “Unleashed!” and the crowds went wild.
If you have never witnessed Killswitch Engage live before, you will get blown away by the sheer force of Jesse’s vocals, as you can feel the rawness of the energy taking over the entire room. Just in April, Jesse had to have a vocal surgery, which many singers undergo, leading the band to sadly needing to cancel some festival appearances. However, this has allowed him to have a stronger throat and voice, and hopefully will guide him to better health in the future.
The show carried on with some older songs, “Hate by Design” being the second song, followed by another new one “The Crownless King”, which features Chuck Billy from Testament on the recording. The well-known and loved “My Last Serenade” was next on the list which saw many people in the audience singing along with emotion. Next one was from the 2004 album “The End of Heartache”; “A Bid Farewell”, which many of the older fans treasure as a piece of nostalgia, and the pits of pure hell opened up right in the centre of the crowds, taking up roughly a colossal 1/3 of the entire main arena floor. “Beyond the Flames” was next, then Jesse took a moment to speak to the massively overcrowded, sweaty sold out arena “We have a new record out and if you didn’t know that you might be confused by all the new stuff we’ve just played. Now we’ll play some more new stuff…right now!”. The very lyrically emotional “I Am Broken Too” came on, of which Jesse has the title tattooed on his arm. In an interview Metal Wani (online heavy metal mag) had with guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, he revealed that this newest album is very personal to the band and that the title “Atonement” is a really good word that describes a lot of the lyrical content in the new music. More oldies “Rose of Sharyn”, “Self Revolution” and ‘In Due Time” were played before the brilliant new song “The Signal Fire” was performed. This one is a big one from the new album, which will stand out and mean a lot to the older Killswitch fans, because of the special guest vocals from ex-member Howard Jones, who left the band in 2011 due to health issues. Although there is an annoying never-ending online debate going on between fans about who the “better” vocalist is/was, it can be said that both vocalists absolutely crush this single with their incredible talent, and they both bring something different to the table, all of which should be appreciated by the fans. It’s a shame that Howard didn’t surprise the crowds with a guest appearance on this tour, but unfortunately, we can’t have it all.
The next song was also very emotional, “Always”, to which many people felt they had to get involved with too as it has the power to touch you on personal levels and make you weep an entire river, especially when you experience that raw energy live. “My Curse”, “This Is Absolution” and “The End of Heartache” were on next, the pits kept opening up with almost every song and some guy even lost a shoe. “Strength of the Mind” was second to last song, before the absolutely mighty Dio cover of “Holy Diver” made literally every single Killswitch fan’s night, so much so that it could be heard being spoken about outside the venue by numerous fans after the night had ended. This last song was the perfect cherry-on-top to finish the blindingly performed by all members, fantastic set. As much as everyone wanted one, there were no encores.
Killswitch Engage have now been going strong for 20 years this year, and mid-performance Jesse expressed how grateful the whole band is for the continued support over the decades. Judging by the insane performance, the energy, the genuineness of the members, the killer new album and the love they all have for their careers, it can easily be said that they have a much longer road ahead, and that Killswitch Engage are not stopping any time soon.