Alive Or Just Breathing review by Killswitch Engage

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  • Released: May 21, 2002
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.2 (68 votes)
Killswitch Engage: Alive Or Just Breathing
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Sound — 10
This is almost undeniably Killswitch Engage's best ever album, and in my humble opinion, the greatest album ever to grace the genre of metal - or indeed music in itself. The first Killswitch Engage song I ever heard was The End of Heartache, and I was instantly blown away by the passion, the excellent guitarwork, the pounding energy flowing through the drummer and how it worked in general. Up until this point I hadn't really embraced metal and/or screaming: now I can barely listen to anything else. I have heard most of The End of Heartache, and I'm sure all of As Daylight Dies, and upon searching through Killswitch Engage's more recent songs on Youtube, I stumbled across My Last Serenade... of course, I gave it a listen. The first thing I noticed was that it was heavier, but I loved that. The men I had grown to love - Joel Stroetzel and my hero Adam Dutkiewicz - hit you with one of the simplest, yet most intense riffs my ears had encountered, and the bass player Mike D'Antonio was noticeably clearer and louder: played loudly he nearly knocked you over. The drumming was excellent also, the double bass worked perfectly with the other instruments; and was played by Adam D, interestingly. And suddenly, it hit me: Jesse Leach bellowing the words "This revelation is the death of ignorance" at me, and I realised this is it. I highly doubt I'll ever hear better metal than this, the Jesse days of Killswitch Engage are simply amazing.

Lyrics — 10
I wrote an essay based on a quote from the song Vide Infra by this band, with the lyric: "I will stand up for who I am; never moved by condemnation. No one is placed higher than another, no matter race or creed or gender". It was about individuality, and received an A. With no disrespect to Howard Jones, I have to say that Jesse Leach is just better. Incredibly deep, intricate lyrics, with many interpretations: a lot have been skillfully written so that they could be read with religious connotations, and yet can also be heard as just a positive message which we should all adapt. Every single song is excellently written and performed by Jesse Leach on the vocal front, from the very first words "the time approaches", to the final words "to rise inside" which both start and end the album perfectly. Some of the best lyrics were from the song Vide Infra, which I have dwelled upon already, Life to Lifeless, The incredibly powerful Just Barely Breathing and some other classics such as Fixation on the Darkness and My Last Serenade. This is one of the only metal albums I have ever heard with such positive messages: the album itself asks us if we are truly alive and salient, or just merely taking in the air. Vide Infra is all about being yourself, and saving yourself from following the crowd - a message I wish every damn ned/chav would understand and heed. I could easily describe the entire album, but Jesse Leach has said it himself, and who could say it better? I also cannot forget other vocal contributors to this album, Adam D was an excellent screamer and singer even back in the glory days (I think he could do a better job than Howard himself just now, but that's just me) and Phil Labonte of All That Remains contributes on a few tracks, I believe they were To The Sons of Man and Self Revolution. Excellent delivery, I've never heard a more emphatic, passionate, powerful screamer than Jesse David Leach.

Overall Impression — 10
I have never heard a better album, this is simply incredible. Go and listen to Vide Infra, The Element of One, To the Sons of Man and My Last Serenade to get an idea of the versatile yet familiar feel of this album - there is absolutely nothing bad about this. I can guarantee if you like metal/metalcore, you will like this album. Buy it.

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