The Massachusetts metalcore mob are joined by some noisy Northerners take to the main stage of Download festival for an hour of unadulterated heaviness and brutality.
We hate to sound like a broken record, because it’s been well documented from Metal Hammer and beyond that Killswitch Engage have been on blistering form since Jesse Leach’s return to the band, but today is THE day that the band re-cement their place as one of the most definitive bands in contemporary music.
With the sun out and one of the weekends biggest crowds, warmed up to a frenzy by huge sets by While She Sleeps and Bury Tomorrow before them, KSE absolutely bludgeon the crowd into submission. Not only do songs from latest album Disarm The Descent sit comfortably amongst the big hitters but you are left in no doubt that this is a band with a seemingly endless plethora of some of modern rocks most recognisable songs.
They sound tight and focussed, even Adam D’s rig failing on a number of occasions can’t knock the rest of the band off guard for a second, and possess one of the finest frontmen and vocalists on the planet. Leach is the sprinkle of magic that turns Killswitch Engage from a very good band into a jaw dropping one. Where Howard Jones cut a pale and distracted version of himself at the end of him tenure in the band Jesse has grown into the mould of the perfect face of the band. He barely misses a note, speaks between songs with a humility and passion that is often lacking from so many bands and rouses the thousands crammed at the front of Download’s main stage into losing their minds.
From This Is Absolution to the closing End Of Heartache via Numbered Days and Rose Of Sharyn this feels like a greatest hits show performed by a band at the peak of their career. There may be many cooler and more hyped bands playing this weekend, but all of them would do well to take a leaf from this book. Killswitch Engage are the undisputed people’s champions of metal. (9) (SH)
Following the powerhouse of Killswitch are the brightest stars in British metal today - Bring Me The Horizon. Having played the festival numerous times in the past and with the majority resulting in a bottling from the crowd, today is their’s for the taking. There’s no denying that their latest LP Sempiternal gave British metalcore a much needed kick up the arse and won over the legions of haters.
Seeing such a polarising band draw the biggest crowd of the day proves that BMTH have become a genuine force to be reckoned with. And with more than enough solid anthems now in their arsenal, nobody can disagree with their position on the bill.
Sticking almost exclusively to Sempiternal material, Oli Sykes and co. have brought one of the most ambitious stage sets they’ve ever used - full of fireworks, steam and fire bursts. From the off the crowd are bouncing and throwing down to Shadow Moses and Diamonds Aren’t Forever, but the carnage still isn’t enough for the Steel City bruisers who won’t be happy until you’re bleeding.
And it’s that desire for the crowd to have a good time that keeps coming back as Oli (also the most Northern sounding man on the planet) reminds everyone that “the pit is your friend” before stirring up more chaos down front. Never one to mince words, Sykes’ outcry of “Punch someone in the cunt!” for Chelsea Smile is met with violence and admittedly laughter from those further back.
The pits are silenced for the ‘ballad’ And The Snakes Start To Sing (which is apparently about “bastards”), but the final two battering rams of the swear-along Anti-Vist and the mammoth choruses of Sleepwalking hammer home just how much BMTH have improved. They’ve stayed at it all these years despite the thousands of negative comments online, and have now won over an audience. And that audience is massive. Bigger things are surely to come in the very near future. (9) (LM)