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killswitch engage  Live Music Hall, Cologne, Germany
9th August 2023
Killswitch Engage - European Tour 2023 - Special guests: Heretoir, Bossk

24 years ago, in a tiny town of Westfield, Massachusetts, the seed was planted for what become a long-lasting and innovative music genre: Metalcore. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE can certainly be attributed to be the godfathers of this explosive fusion of heavy metal and hardcore punk, and even though the band underwent quite a few line-up changes, they still continue to shape the evolution of this genre. So, squeezed in between their upcoming summer festival appearances, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE managed to delight fans by setting a gig in the relatively small Live Music Hall.


Opening the evening were BOSSK, which are a British quintet from Ashford, named after the feared bounty hunter from Star Wars. They have formed in 2005 and their debut album ‘Audio Noir’ was released in 2016.

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Music & Performance
Shortly before 8pm, the lights went low, and BOSSK kicked off their set, while a lot of concertgoers still enjoyed the sun outside the venue. Their mélange of post-metal, stoner rock, and sludge metal managed to draw a sizeable portion of the audience into the venue. Singer Sam Marsh delivered an energetic performance, and the instrumental fraction excelled in performing the sometimes-complex arrangements, interlaced with electronic parts. However, the only word the singer ever uttered to the audience, was the parting word “Auf Wiedersehen” when they left the stage after their 30 minutes were over, leaving the spectators confused, which band they even had seen.

Music: 7
Sound: 7
Light: 5
Total: 6 / 10

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Second on the line-up were HERETOIR, a German Metal band from Augsburg. HERETOIR were originally founded back in 2006 as a solo project of the singer David “Eklatanz” C. Over the years, band members were added to the line-up, and their latest album release is ‘The Circle’ from 2017.

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Music & Performance
Shortly before 9pm, the lights went low again, and HERETOIR entered the stage to mystical sounding intro, during which the four musicians stood with their backs towards the audience, turning around simultaneously at the start of the song. Frontman David knew how to stir up excitement for the main act they were opening for and thanked everyone for coming out to witness their special brand of Ambient metal which they themselves call ‘Blackgaze’, due to the addition of Shoegazing influences. This saw a lot of hair moshing and insanely fast “sewing-machine” parts combined with more, melodic atmospheric passages, with singer David’s voice alternating between growling and singing, although both sounded rather hoarse. All in all, it was an entertaining gig, which probably caused many spectators to make a mental note to check out HERETOIR further.

Music: 7
Sound: 7
Light: 5
Total: 6.5 / 10

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Killswitch Engage

In 1999, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE was founded in the US state of Massachusetts. The band already caused a sensation with their self-titled debut, before their final breakthrough came with the 2002 album ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’. Today, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE are the driving force of the modern Heavy Metal scene in the USA and are officially considered the founders of Metalcore. The CD ‘The End of Heartache’, released in 2004, reached number 21 on the Billboard charts. A little later they even received a Grammy nomination. With their fourth album ‘As Daylight Dies’, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE reached another peak of their creativity two years later. Rarely has the mélange of hardness and melody been put to music so intensively. The album stayed in the American charts for 22 weeks.

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At the beginning of work on their sixth album, ‘Disarm the Descent’ (2013), a drastic change occurred: Howard Jones, frontman of the band since 2002, announced his departure for health reasons. After testing numerous new shouters, the remaining members recalled Jesse Leach, who had presided over them for the first three years of their career. Already the first concerts in the old line-up were euphorically received. With the re-entry of Leach, the band returned to their musical roots, which was also proven by their latest album ‘Incarnate’: It came out so oppressive, powerful and mighty, as if a young, fresh band was at work here, which had to get rid of all its anger.

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Music & Performance
Shortly before 10pm, the anticipation levels were sky high in the now packed Live Music Hall. Frenetic cheers greeted the band, as they entered the stage to the clean guitar intro of the first song ‘My Curse’, and the band really hit it out of the park when they kicked off the song. Without hesitation, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE turned the venue into a packed, sweaty pool of bodies moving to the music. Lead Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz - one of the two original members of the band - greeted the audience with his charismatic robotic voice and acted like a whirlwind on stage. Dressed in his on-brand “Florida man”-style green headband, sleeveless Hawaiian shirt and shorts, his signature riffing and background vocals made him the cornerstone of the remarkable band performance. And the audience was so here for it.

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During the ‘The End of Heartache’ the audience almost sang louder than the band, which left singer Jesse Leach visibly moved and thankful. Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel, the guitar duo responsible for the band's muscular riffs and intricate melodies, were equally exceptional. They delivered each song with precision and passion. Whether it was the crushing breakdowns or the soaring solos, their guitar work was a testament to their undeniable talent and chemistry. After 70 minutes of playtime, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE closed their set with their cover version of Ronny James Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’, turning the concert into a communal celebration of metalcore. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's performance at the Live Music Hall was a masterclass in metalcore. They proved once again why they have been at the forefront of the genre for over two decades. With their raw energy, precise musicianship, and a setlist that left no fan wanting, they showed that they still have plenty of fire left in them.

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01. I Got A War
02. My Curse
03. Rise Inside
04. This Fire
05. Reckoning
06. The Arms of Sorrow
07. In Due Time
08. Beyond the Flames
09. The Signal Fire
10. Unleashed
11. Hate by Design
12. The Crownless King
13. Rose of Sharyn
14. Strength of the Mind
15. This Is Absolution
16. The End of Heartache
17. My Last Serenade
18. Holy Diver (Dio cover)

Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8 / 10

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All Pictures by Andreas Klüppelberg

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