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Killswitch Engage - May 20, 2010 - Ches-Arena, Cheswick, PA

By: David E. Gehlke

Quite the ongoing discussion around the state of Killswitch Engage at the moment, with singer Howard Jones taking an unexpected leave of absence earlier this year. All That Remains throat Phil Labonte filled in admirably, but questions persist about Jones' whereabouts and subsequent time away from the band. In an effort to quell matters, the band scheduled a run of East Coast dates with Jones back at the helm, with this particular stop hitting the spacious, family-friendly (as in, take your Cub Scout troop here) confines of the Ches-Arena, roughly 20 minutes outside of Pittsburgh.

Last time Blistering visited the Ches-Arena, Christmas decorations adorned the perimeter of the floor, killing the vibe at a Vader show.Thankfully, none of that was to be found, but still, this venue is barely suited to hold shows, with visible cracks in the ceiling making some in the crowd (i.e. this scribe) a bit nervous. Nevertheless, we caught the back-end of Once Beloved's set (who feature the younger brother of KSE guitarist Joel Stroetzel in the ranks) which turned out to be a blessing. The band's stale and predictable foray into metal and deathcore weren't exactly the best way to kick off the evening, but luckily a friend of yours truly fetched some pizza, so all was not lost.

The Acacia Strain were clearly in the wrong setting, as their beatdown-laden brand of hardcore belongs in sweaty basements or small clubs, not an oversized roller-skating rink. Suitably, the crowd wasn't quite feeling it, as singer Vincent Bennett tried to rile 'em up after ranting how negative he is, how he hates life, etc., etc. Talk about sunshine on a cloudy day. Culling largely from their Continent effort, AC sound too thin in this setting. At least the hardcore kids got to bust out their dance moves. Always fun to see that.

Silverstein played. More pizza was consumed. Can't believe EMO is still popular.

Expecting a packed house, KSE were greeted by roughly 800-900 patrons, who became rabid once "Rose of Sharyn" kicked in. Enjoying the best sound of the night, KSE managed to roll out the usual hits ("My Curse," "My Last Serenade," "Starting Over") along with lesser-known cuts like "Self Revolution" and "Reckoning." Of course, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz was his animated self, bipping and bopping across the stage, providing the crowd with plenty of interesting visuals and artificial guitar harmonics. Jones looked assured, almost as if he never left, something D acknowledged by strumming the chords to AC/DC's "Back In Black" during the early moments of the set.

The encore included a touching tribute to Ronnie James Dio via "Holy Diver," a song KSE has re-popularized. A fitting moment for a band that is so seemingly so unaware of itself (read: Dutkiewicz). For now, Killswitch appears to be all systems go, which makes a lot of segments of metal fans happy. Even you, you crazy hardcore kids.


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