KILLSWITCH ENGAGE (1999–PRESENT). Mike D’Antonio (bass), Howard Jones (vocals), Justin Foley (drums), Adam Dutkiewicz (guitar), Joel Stroetzel (guitar).
Along with Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage are at the forefront of the New Wave of heavy metal metalcore movement. From Westfield, Massachusetts, the band is comprised of bassist Mike D’Antonio, vocalist Howard Jones, drummer Justin Foley, and guitarists Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel.
Initially organized by D’Antonio in 1999, formerly of hardcore stalwarts Overcast, the band was originally conceived of as a part-time side project, but eventually grew along with the band’s reputation. Originally a foursome, the band, comprising D’Antonio, Dutkiewicz (then on drums), Stroetzel, and vocalist Jesse Leach started gigging under the name Killswitch Engage, which was meant to signify a fresh new musical direction and a break with their collective musical pasts.
Signed to indie Ferret Records after impressive live shows, the band released Killswitch Engage in June 2000 and began to attract attention based on their unique take on metal, which included a more melodic approach combined with their heavy guitar and drum-based riffage that bristled with intensity.
Switching to the larger Roadrunner label, the band went into the studio and, with a larger recording budget, was able to spend more time crafting their sophomore album, the brutal Alive or Just Breathing. The album featured a fuller soni palette and multiple guitar parts (mixed by British wunderkind producer Andy Sneap) and prompted the band to expand to a five-piece as drummer Dutkiewicz move to guitar and new drummer Tom Gomes joined the fold. Alive was released in May 2002, to positive reviews and a new round of touring.
Singer Leach, however, shortly thereafter decided to leave the band for personal reasons. After a series of auditions, vocalist Howard Jones of the hardcore band Blood Has Been Shed joined as Leach’s replacement, and the band hit the road once more, with Jones’ charismatic stage presence and formidable vocals taking the band to another level.
When drummer Tom Gomes exited the group a year later, Jones’ former bandmate Justin Foley joined in time for the recording of the band’s third album, The End of Heartache. Released in the spring of 2004, Heartache entered the charts at 21 and earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. With their newfound notoriety, the band became ubiquitous on the concert trail and at metal festivals, performing at Ozzfest, the Warped Tour, and Britain’s Leeds and Reading Festivals. Their live DVD Set This World Ablaze was released in 2005.
Discography: Killswitch Engage (Ferret, 2000); Alive or Just Breathing (Roadrunner, 2002); The End of Heartache (Roadrunner, 2004); As Daylight Dies (Roadrunner, 2006); Killswitch Engage (Roadrunner, 2009).