Following the recent release of their latest album, “Disarm the Descent,” American metalcore band KILLSWITCH ENGAGE passed through The Circus in Helsinki on April 16th, 2013. The venue was packed full of the drunk and sober alike, ready to pound their fists and mosh until their brains rattled.
The gig got going right on time with the band starting the show out with “The Hell in Me,” the opening track off their latest album. Vocalist Jesse Leach was a new face in Helsinki, having recently replaced long-time vocalist, Howard Jones, who left the band in early 2012. Leach was the original vocalist for KILLSWITCH, singing on their first two albums, but with Jones having been in the band during their rise to fame, Leach hadn’t been to Finland before and the crowd was treated to a first-time experience with his vocals.
The show got off to a fist-pounding start, with the first few songs spanning all the way back to their second release. After three tracks, Leach stopped to thank all the beautiful people for coming out to the show. They introduced a new song with a strange spoken “hello” introduction, before playing “The New Awakening,” also from “Disarm the Descent.”
Leach was an energetic and enthusiastic vocalist, making sure to traverse the stage to ensure he got a good look at everyone in the crowd, doing his part to headbang and rev everyone up. Bearded guitarist, Joel Stroetzel, was more interested in shredding than showing off, and Mike D’Antonio on bass mostly stayed in one place rock out. However, bandana-clad Andrew “Big Dude” Dutkiewicz was the real showman on stage. He spent the majority of the show goofing off, kissing his muscles, one-leg hopping across stage, scampering about, and doing crazy one-handed taps while using his other hand to cover his eyes, all without missing a beat. He alone was worth it to see, making the whole thing lighthearted and entertaining.
The band only stopped to speak to the crowd every three songs or so, and for the rest of the time, there wasn’t more than half a second between songs. When they did pause, however, it consisted mainly of strange discussions or appreciative chatting with the crowd. Dutkiewicz said that he was thrilled to be back in Helsinki and wanted to give everyone in the crowd a big hug, and was so happy that one of his all-time best friends (Leach) was getting to experience such an awesome city for the first time. He also dedicated “The Arms of Sorrow” to all the hot Finnish girls in the crowd.
Later on, he also dubbed the crowd to be sexy, and said that he wanted to hang out with everyone. He said that one of their songs (I didn’t catch the name) was written about circle pits in Helsinki, and called on “the dickweed in the cape” to come stand in the center of the floor so they could do a circle pit around him. While setting up the pit, he also asked what was up with a guy in a weird hat, unsure of what his “deal” was. The pit was enormous, taking up pretty much the entire floor (excluding the fenced-off bar area).
As the show neared an end, the band began to make some very impassioned thank-yous to the crowd for coming out on a Tuesday night. Dutkiewicz asked what the crowd was doing after the show, asking if they wanted to do push-ups and have power drinks. Somehow, he managed to be silly and sincere all at once, and before ending the show with “The End of Heartache,” he gave a very heartfelt speech of gratitude, stating that without the love and support of the fans, they wouldn’t be able to do what they love. Then, as they played the last song, he flashed a pocket flashlight at the crowd. The whole crowd seemed to be singing along with the chorus, and the band couldn’t have looked happier to be where they were.
When they were summoned back for an encore, Dutkiewicz claimed that they’d love to play more songs, but those were all the songs they knew, and there wasn’t anything else they could play. After he finished teasing the fans, they finished the set off with “My Last Serenade.” Though the encore was only one song, they put their all into it, leaving the crowd with a sense of satisfaction as they left the stage.
All-in-all, it was an entertaining and energetic show, fun even for those who might not know the music that well. Leach’s growls were nicely balanced with the quality Jones had gotten fans familiar with, though his cleaner vocals don’t quite have the same power and “oomph.” It seemed to work to their advantage then, that the set was comprised mostly of the more growl-focused songs.
In the end, the show was a blast to watch. They really gave the impression of guys who loved what they were doing, but not only that, appreciated that they wouldn’t be where they were without their fans. There was a lot of love coming off the stage, and in the end, everyone left the venue feeling like they were friends with the band, and that’s a great way to feel after a show.
1. The Hell in Me
2. A Bid Farewell
3. Fixation on the Darkness
4. The New Awakening
5. Life to Lifeless
6. Take this Oath
7. The Arms of Sorrow
8. This is Absolution
9. No End in Sight
10. Rose of Sharyn
11. Numbered Days
12. Self Revolution
13. In Due Time
14. My Curse
15. The End of Heartache
16. My Last Serenade (encore)
Written by Bear Wiseman