Their new album “Atonement” has made the metalcore pioneer KILLSWITCH ENGAGE busy on the stages of Europe again. As my personal last live experience of the band dates from Tuska Festival 2008 with Howard Jones still onboard, it felt like a good time to have an updated view on their performance. Fortunately, the Atonement tour reached Finland as well, so I knew The Circus would be my place to be that evening.
The band to kickstart the evening was the German modern metal band TENSIDE. Regardless of the still ongoing background music, the band was ready to start with “This Is What We Die For” and the massive guitar riffs were ready to roll, and they rolled really well indeed. One could actually say that TENSIDE sounds heavier than the upcoming headline band of the night. The first spot is never easy and only a handful of people had shown up to the venue, but the band definitely gave them what they came for. As vocalist Daniel Kuhlemann said, it was a concert and not a funeral. TENSIDE kept up the great energy and showed us what the attitude on stage should be like. If you recognize yourself as a person who could enjoy groovy metalcore music go ahead and check the band out, but at least for me, the live experience opened the band up much more.
If TENSIDE possibly felt a bit heavier than KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, the second warmup opening act was straight-up technical death metal. The American REVOCATION has been active already for almost 20 years, but when David Davidson asked how many had just heard about the band for the first time ever – many hands rose up, including mine. You could see this wasn’t exactly their first time on stage, the riffs and the music, in general, required quite a bit of technical skills. I mean, who isn’t impressed when you see a bass player using a tapping technique? Anyway, even if the music wasn’t the easiest one to digest, it didn’t keep heads from banging. The vocals of David were fierce and convincing enough to have a circle pit appear in the middle of The Circus a couple of times. Overall, REVOCATION delivered a really tight gig, and I have to delve deeper into their music.
As the intro tape “Final Countdown” – yep, you read it right – was playing, the rest of the people for the sold-out event managed to make it there. No question here which of the bands was the focus of interest tonight. The actual show started with “Unleashed”, which is also the opening song for the new album. Jesse Leach didn’t keep the audience waiting for a build-up of energy and dynamically made his way across the stage and even beyond, going in the photo pit to embrace the fans on the front row a few times. Definitely a good way to show how the band has deserved the headlining status over the years.
Even if the tour was meant to support the recently released “Atonement”, the actual setlist consisted of a variety of songs from different albums from their long musical careers. The melodic elements with clean vocals provided plenty of chances for the people to practice their sing-along skills, from which “In Due Time” probably stood out most for me. That riff is one of my favorite ones from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and creates a great contrast with the chorus. Other than that the classic songs such as “My Curse” and “The End of Heartache” gave us chills and are prime examples of their expertise.
In addition to the regular speeches, Jesse remembered to tell us how cold they felt outside. Before it was time to end the show and for us to keep experiencing the wonderful cold weather, the closing song for the show was the classic cover of DIO’s “Holy Diver”. I’m not sure if the audience was already too familiar with the song or what, but the second they started to play the cover song, a stream of people started to exit the venue. Fortunately, the band didn’t seem to pay too much attention to the ones leaving the place but kept delivering the experience the remaining fans had come for. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE played a strong, secure set of metal music and certainly made the attendees satisfied with their performance.
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