EXIT 111 FESTIVAL 2019: Friday [Review & Photo Gallery]

One of the most anticipated music festivals of the summer and fall since its announcement in early April, the first ever Exit 111 Festival, planted its rock n’ roll roots deep in the farm that Bonnaroo made iconic just south of Nashville, Tennessee. The three-day experience which took place from Friday, October, 11th, through Sunday, October 13th at Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tennessee, featured a monster musical lineup including Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Slayer, Killswitch Engage, Anthrax, ZZ Top, Ghost, Mastodon, Deftones, Coheed and Cambria, Lamb of God, and many more. In addition to the top-notch musical roster, Exit 111 featured The Paranormal Cirque, a world of combined theatre, circus, and cabaret presented by Cirque Italia; The Red Bull Freestyle Motocross Experience, showcasing the insane talents of some of the best freestyle motocross riders in the world; the Mega Sports Bar, offering everything from college football and the NFL to baseball and hockey games in the biggest damn sports bar you’ve ever seen; and the Exit 111 Car Show, the first ever all makes, all models car show, free to all Exit 111 ticket-holders. Continue reading

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE & REVOCATION Inspire Headbanging In The U.K. [Review & Photo Gallery]

So on arrival to the Bristol o2 the queue was all the way up the hill next to the venue before the doors opened. I overheard fans chatting before the show and I heard them saying Howard Jones was there, but you hear that at every Killswitch Engage gig, and yes sometimes he does turn up. Also will Adam D wear a cape tonight, or will he go to the bar again and order shots mid set? It was bound to be an amazing night with not only Killswitch Engage taking the stage but also Boston, Massachusetts based band Revocation and the German metal band Tenside opening the show. What would be the stand out memories from tonight’s show? Let’s just wait and see. Continue reading

Blood Has Been Shed Guitarist On Unreleased Album “There’s Around 10 Tracks On It”

Blood Has Been Shed may not be a household name in the metalcore genre, but that’s not due to a lack in pedigree, with half the band going on to join Killswitch Engage (singer Howard Jones and drummer Justin Foley).  BHBS are one of those bands who’s mark is still felt almost 15 years after their last album.  With punishing off timed riffs and intricate drumming and Howard’s unmistakable vocals, Blood Has Been Shed were poised to be one of the stand out bands in a scene rife with talent. 3 albums was all we ever got from these guys, but one listen through their discography will prove why the music stands up and is held in high regard amongst some of the staunchest metal elitists.
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Howard Jones On New Blood Has Been Shed Music “I Don’t Know If It’ll Ever See The Light Of Day”

Howard Jones has long been one of metalcore’s stand out vocalists.  From fronting one of the pioneering bands in the genre in Blood Has Been Shed, who’s punishing down tuned odd time signature riffs and spastic delivery is something bands in the scene have long copied.  Jones would go on to replace Jesse Leach in Killswitch Engage and help take that band from the underground to the forefront of the genre with standout albums like Grammy nominated “The End Of Heartache” and “As Daylight Dies”. Mental health issues would see Jones step down from the KSE ranks, subsequently being replaced by the man he replaced in Leach.  Howard would reemerge with a new project in tow, Devil You Know, who would eventually become Light The Torch amid some legal issues with a former member. Light The Torch put out their debut, Revival, in 2018. Continue reading

Review: KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – ‘Atonement’ [Song Stream]

 

If you’ve not heard of Killswitch Engage by now, number one: you are severely missing out on some of the best music out there, and number two: you definitely live under a rock. Killswitch has been releasing perfect album after album since 1999; they hail from Massachusetts. They are credited as one of the most successful bands from the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement. They have continued to headline international tours and have massive festival appearances. “Atonement” will be their eight LP and the follow-up to the masterpiece, “Incarnate” from 2016. The aforementioned album will be their very first release via Metal Blade Records on August 16. Killswitch Engage is metalcore perfection. If it is not already obvious, KSE is one of my all time favorite bands and I may or may not have shed a tear whilst at their shows. 

As it should, “Atonement” begins with a roar- it really does! “Unleashed” is the opening track and the first single the band shared. The first thing that many Killswitch fans will recognize is how flawless singer, Jesse Leach’s vocals sound. Many know that he underwent vocal surgery last spring, and to say he’s made a recovery is an understatement. Perhaps some of his strongest recorded performances yet are found on the new album. “Unleashed” doesn’t particularly stray too far from the tried and true Killswitch Engage formula, but that’s okay because they do it so goddamn well. The song has a verse that sticks and a chorus that ends with a sick breakdown. What more could you need?

The second track is something that many KSE followers have dreamed about for years and it has finally happened. Jesse Leach and the band’s former frontman, Howard Jones (who should need no introduction at all, but it anyone was wondering, he currently fronts Light the Torch) on one song together. This, I believe, will solve all the worlds’ problems. “The Signal Fire” comes in hot, with a deathcore introduction and it’s thrashy in your face feel. The chorus is a total earworm with such conviction. Jesse and Howard together is every girls dream… or maybe it’s just mine? Regardless, these two sound perfect and this is a standout track. 

“The Crownless King,” is such a fist pumping pit starter. This one will go over extremely well live. A great mid tempo track with soaring vocals, “As Sure as the Sun Will Rise.” Of course it’s impossible to review “Atonement” without addressing the song with the first video from the record, “I Am Broken Too.” Leach has been very forthcoming with his personal struggles with mental health in past lyrics and this one is no acception. It’s stripped down and a little more simple and incredibly powerful. Killswitch Engage both on record and live, is a great balance. Songs like this one, and older tracks like “Arms of Sorrow” and “Rose of Sharyn” deal with heavy topics and then there are just some straight up bangers. The ever amusing guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz brings the comedic relief to their sets, dawning headbands that read, “TRASH” and spurting out lewd and insane remarks. Killswitch knows when it’s time to be serious and when it’s time to be Adam.  

Like every album before and like every album will be, “Atonement” is fantastic. Currently in first place for metalcore album of the year, curated by myself. It’s out August 16 on Metal Blade and currently up for preorder. A European tour is in order for the fall, but if you are in the states you can catch them (along with many others) at the first inaugural Exit 111 Festival in October, taking place in Tennessee. This record will not disappoint and if you haven’t seen Killswitch Engage live, you’re dead to me. 

 

Sonic Temple Saturday Review & Photo Gallery

Gojira

A hot Columbus morning greeted the concert goers as they arrived at Mapfre Stadium for Day 2 of the Sonic Temple Arts and Music Festival. The sun was beaming down and and there wasn’t much relief from the wind. There also wasn’t as many people lined up waiting to get in when the gates opened. Maybe it was the late first night that kept those numbers down.

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Howard Jones On Listening To Hip Hop “It’s A Way To Get Away From Heavier Music For A Little While”

Light The Torch

 

In 2012 left Killswitch Engage to gain control of his diabetes, which had been hard to control while on tour. There wasn’t much time off for him as he almost immediately formed Devil You Know. The original lineup of the band was Howard on vocals, Francesco Artusato (All Shall Perish, Hiss of Atrocities) – guitars, Ryan Wombacher  (Bleeding Through)– bass, backing vocals, Roy Lev-Ari (Hiss of Atrocities) – guitars and John Sankey (Divine Heresy, Fear Factory)– drums. Since then Roy Lev-Ari and John Sankey have left the band. The current drummer of the band is Mike Sciulara (Extinction A.D.). I was fortunate enough to see the band a couple times while on tour with Coal Chamber and on stage they put on an amazing show. Devil You Know released two albums ‘The Beauty of Destruction’ (2014) and ‘They Bleed Red’  (2015). Then on July 26, 2017, the band announced via social media that they have changed their name to Light the Torch. The band in a way wanted a fresh start, and I believe the name has a better ring to it. The band is now set to release their debut under the name Light The Torch with ‘Revival’ which released on March 30, 2018. Continue reading

IN FLAMES, NORMA JEAN & LIGHT THE TORCH At SWX Bristol [Review & Photo Gallery]

In Flames

On arrival to the SWX Bristol, UK, the queue was already around the block an hour before doors opened – wow! I’ve not seen this at the SWX for some time. Fans were keen to get in and watch this awesome lineup Continue reading

PARKWAY DRIVE, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, THY ART IS MURDER Dominate The UK [Review & Photo Gallery]

Parkway Drive may have only scheduled 4 dates for their UK tour but with the jaw dropping lineup of support acts they have bestowed upon us pure metal happiness. Kicking things off is Parkway Drive’s fellow Australian’s Thy Art Is Murder using their deathcore sound to get the crowd pumped right from the start, they are followed by metalcore royalty with Killswitch Engage who have been on a roll since original singer Jesse Leach re-joined the band. Then the proverbial cherry on top of course is Parkway Drive touring in support of their tremendous new record ‘Reverence.’ This tour February 1st stop in Cardiff at Motorpoint Arena was bound to be explosive.

Thy Art Is Murder

 

From the get go the lads in Thy Art Is Murder were not messing around whilst smashing straight in with “Dear Desolution” with its ultra fast double bass drum and fast runs and riffs on the guitars. Then CJ kicks in with his unique powerful screams, growls and shouts, the crowd went nuts. This is the first time I’ve witnessed them live and to see them grace a stage like this arena was amazing, they looked right at home. I can only imagine what a smaller show would be like (carnage) but then they played the fourth song on the setlist “Reign Of Darkness” and CJ asked the crowd to split for a wall of death. It was at least a 20 foot gap from the front of the arena to the back. Then bang the charge from the crowd and for the next two songs the crowd was going insane. Ending on “Puppet Master” was a great choice with that pounding snare hitting intro got the crowd banging their heads. As the momentum picked up they knew it was their last chance to dance so they went crazy for CJ and crew. I can’t wait to witness this again soon.

Killswitch Engage

Not gonna lie I’m a huge Killswitch Engage fan and have been since day one. Recently I witnessed them supporting Iron Maiden last year at the London o2 which was a phenomenal performance and to be fair it always is. Tonight people who had a ticket were in for a treat. They played 11 songs in total and a great mixture of old and new. You could tell they had a lot of fans in the audience due to the amount of singing going on and especially to “My Curse” and “My Last Serenade” the crowd were nearly drowning out the band they singing along so loud. I was hoping Guitarist Adam D was going to pop to the bar and order a couple shots mid song like he did at a recent show whilst still playing his guitar (We’ve all seen that video right?). I was waiting but sadly this didn’t happen (search for the video its awesome). Watching Adam’s quirky personality on stage is always amazing, the faces he pulls are great along with his jogging around the stage, he is in my eyes one of the best guitarists out there. Jesse Leach is just one of those flawless live vocalists, he sounded perfect in every way. I normally don’t say this but it was great vocal deliveries all night long. He delivers just as good as the album version live. He deserves a lot of respect, hats off to you sir! The pit was crazy from start to finish. I stood just out of the area and saw a random shoe on the ground and then another shoe made it to the stage. As Jesse asked who’s it was, well there was either one person with no shoes or two people with one shoe…ha ha ha. One more thing to look out for is a new album from Killswitch Engage this year and 2019 marks the 20 year anniversary of the band so I’m sure its going to be a banger of an album.

Parkway Drive

 

So the time has come for the Australian lads in Parkway Drive to hit the stage. The lights dimmed and the band appeared at the back of the venue with four of their crew surrounding them with flame torches. They walked through the crowd to the stage with the intro to “Wishing Wells” before gracing the stage and continuing to deliver the rest of this tune from ‘Reverence’. Lights dimmed to an almighty roar, Parkway Drive officially warmed the crowd up together with the amount of pyros, explosions and flame throwers from all sides of stage.

The stand out tunes for me were “Carrion,” “Vice Grip” and “Wild Eyes.” To hear everyone in the crowd chanting to the riff like on the album version was incredible and vocalist Winston McCall looked like that gets him amped every night. Drummer Ben Gordon is a beast on the kit, he’s a drummer I’ve liked for a while now. If you wanna be a hard hitting drummer just watch this guy. He didn’t let up all night and had 17 tunes to play, just wish he had his drum cradle tonight but unfortunately some venues can’t accommodate everything in a bands production. To be fair, it did not matter as Parkway Drive let the music and performance do the talking. Winston McCall did say it felt like last week they were playing Merthyr Tydfil to 10 people and he couldn’t sing ha ha.

Well I was there in the early days and not so long ago when people used to turn up with inflatable boats and crowd surf in them, amazing times. However, to see this band progress into what they are now and to be doing arena tours is well deserved. I hope the momentum for them keeps growing. If you manage to get to a show you can expect explosions, flames, fire balls from all directions, a string section joining them and Winston McCall going to a little stage at the sound desk to join a cello player to perform with elevating platforms which Luke Kilpatrick and Jeff Ling were lifted high up above the stage. I read an article saying there are no bands coming up to replace the legendary bands we are losing, well think again, they are here and they are called Parkway Drive. They have always been here and right now they are getting the recognition for their hard work over the last 16 years. So stadiums might be next on the agenda? I certainly hope so. I would like to wish every member of the band all the best for the future. We can only hope they help influence a new generation of bands that are even half as talented as they are.