A classic case of hindsight being 20/20, Killswitch Engage's eponymous debut is now viewed as a significant touchstone in the emergence of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, but it had only a limited impact upon the insular Northeastern hardcore scene when it was released through Ferret Records in 2000 (and that was mostly because its musicians had previously been involved with influential underground bands like Overcast and Aftershock). One listen is all that's required to understand why. Like many of their peers at the time, the musicians in Killswitch Engage were boldly testing the spartan limitations of hardcore songwriting -- coming out of their inherited hardcore shell, if you will -- by introducing heretical elements from heavy metal, elements which most genre purists would consider anathema. These included all manner of deathly Cookie Monster grunts and shrieks, fusillades of fast-picked notes, and intricate minor-key melodies, plus all manner of technical instrumental showboating (histrionic solos, double kick-drum blastbeats, unorthodox time signatures, etc.), which lifted album standouts like "Irreversal," "In the Unblind," and particularly "Temple from the Within" and "Vide Infra" beyond their more simplistic, hardcore-loyal counterparts. In fact, it wasn't at all surprising when these last two songs were re-recorded for the band's breakthrough second album, Alive or Just Breathing, by which time Killswitch Engage had symbolically swallowed the proverbial heavy metal bullet by signing with stalwart metal label Roadrunner. Compared to that sophomore effort, this eponymous first salvo can't help but sound formative, but it still contains plenty of exciting material for KE diehards, while embodying the curious conundrum of a transitory feel, despite there not being anything, technically speaking, for it to transition from! Told you it was a conundrum!
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
feat: Adam Dutkiewicz