Sound — 10
They are simply Metalcore. I am a big fan of Metalcore. I'm not here to say that this band is extremely unique or innovative. I'm not here to say that they're the "heaviest band around," or that their heaviness even compares to the likes of Cannibal Corpse or Pantera. I just simply love this CD. From the basic pinch harmonics that are usually present in most metalcore and nu-metal bands, to the drum beats that just make you want to bang your head relentlessly. Ultimately their sound isn't what impresses me, but it's definitely an important piece to the puzzle which makes this band work well.
Lyrics — 10
Jesse Leach inspires me. This is where Killswitch Engage puts on a clinic. If you could find a better scream/sing combination than the stuff put out by Jesse Leach on this album, then I'd love to hear it. Most of his talent relies on his transitions from screaming to singing, which is done more smoothly than anything I've ever heard. There are plenty of vocalists that are talented (Howard Jones being one of them), but none as important to me as Jesse. This album saved my life from spiraling downhill all thanks to the inspirational lyrics Leach writes (and no, I'm not Christian or Catholic). The headbanging feel only makes it better by making you get on your feet and do something with your life, other than just sitting and crying it away. There's no way I could thank Jesse Leach properly.
Overall Impression — 10
This album isn't for close-minded metalheads who are obsessed with crappy lyrics and horrible cookie monster vocals. It especially isn't for the people who constantly rip on Metalcore. This album would only give them more fuel for their fire. If you think Jesse's singing voice is whiny, then go ahead and call me "emo." I'd be the only emo kid that doesn't cut, have a comb-over, wears tight pants or listens to Atreyu, Bullet For My Valentine or My Chemical Romance. I happen to also like plenty of metal bands (including Metallica, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Slayer, Sepultura etc), but I tend to lean more towards bands that have lyrics that I can relate with more (like Between The Buried And Me and Tool). The End Of Heartache was also a strong album with the lyrics and vocals as the focal point, but I still prefer Jesse Leach. My favorite songs on "Alive Or Just Breathing" are all of them. There isn't one that's better than the other. They're all equally good and it makes it impossible for me to choose one. This album is incredibly addicting, and no matter what, it has to be in one of my CD cases so that I can conveniently listen to it after a bad day. Alive Or Just Breathing is definitely one of my top 5 favorite albums.