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“AAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!”

That three-second-long shrill shriek at the beginning of “The Hell In Me” marks the very first sound of Killswitch Engage’s sixth album, Disarm The Descent.  There’s no volume fading or short instrumental intro to set the scene, just pure volatility cranked up to 11 from the moment you hit play.  It’s an entirely appropriate introduction to the record since it announces the return of KsE’s original singer, Jesse Leach, to the fold after a ten year absence and last year’s departure of Howard Jones.

I hope you weren’t expecting a gentle reentry for Leach.  Instead of testing the waters or coasting smoothly onto the airstrip, Leach pilots a crash landing on the tarmac, sans landing gear.  And while it’s an explosive reintroduction, I think Leach’s return has unfairly pigeonholed the expectations for this record.  Now that the original lineup (plus drummer Justin Foley, who joined in 2003) is back together, a lot of fans want, need and expect this record to sound like 2000′s self-titled or 2002′s Alive or Just Breathing — the latter of which is held up by many fans as the best album KsE has ever made and which, not coincidentally, was Leach’s last with the band…until now, of course.

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Adam Dutkiewicz must be capable of only writing and producing a single narrowly defined genre of music – that being metalcore.

A founding member of the metalcore blueprint band and flag bearers Killswitch Engage, Adam D. has also staked his claim as the producer du jour of any metalcore act on the scene (for reals, check out that discography).  And now he’s back with a new side project called Times of Grace.  To no one’s surprise, it sounds just like KsE – and that’s before you are even made aware of the fact that his partner in the project is Jesse Leach, the original singer for KsE.

So while Leach and Adam D. might be calling Times of Grace a project, it’d be more apt to call it a reunion.

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All That Remains remind me a lot of Killswitch Engage, and that’s even more true on their latest album, For We Are Many.

Maybe it’s because vocalist Phil Labonte was the one tasked with filling in for Killswitch on their tour last year when Howard Jones had to sit out due to allegedly knocking up a porn star despite being married.  Or maybe it’s because Killswitch mastermind Adam Dutkiewicz held down the production and engineering duties for this record.  Isn’t that nice – two Massachusetts metalcore bands helping each other out?  How sweet.

There’s two sides to this coin, though.  On the one hand, Killswitch Engage is awesome and they are the definition of what good metalcore should be.  On the other hand, when you invite comparisons to the gold standard, you put yourself in the position of likely coming up short.

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At one point, metalcore was a fresh genre.  It even managed to evolve for a while on the merits of adding melodic elements to a sound that had been predicated on the manic ethos of hardcore.

But even the bands that managed to ascend the metalcore mountain, like Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, and Hatebreed, have recently seen their sound stagnate like so many other lesser bands.  The whole situation smells of a genre that may have reached its spoiling point, with countless younger bands trying to rip off the sounds of their musical forefathers before the genre itself fades in popularity.

The result has been that the past five years has seen the metalcore genre devolve into an amorphous pool of uninspired and unexciting bands all seemingly playing the same tired songs as everyone else.  Norma Jean, while not the worst of the bunch, certainly don’t manage to escape this swirling riptide with their fifth studio album, Meridional.

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The real reason why Howard Jones had to leave KsE’s tour may now be coming to light – and it is tabloid worthy.

Quick recap before I get to the real news so that everyone is caught up.

I went to Killswitch Engage’s first show of their headlining tour this winter back on February 4th.  After just five days, lead singer Howard Jones suddenly dropped off the tour due to “unforeseen circumstances” as the band’s official press release put it.  That led to much speculation about Jones leaving the band.

But replacement singer Phil Labonte said that he was just filling in until Howard “gets better,” leading most people to believe that he was just hurt or sick.  It was then reported that Jones had fallen on some stairs and hurt his back and that was why he left the tour.  OK, that’s understandable.  Still, if that was the case, the band should have come out and said that instead of letting damaging rumors swirl.

But now ThePRP has exclusively learned the alleged real reason as to why Jones left the tour:

IMPREGNATING A PORNSTAR!

Hahaha, who says they don’t make rockstar debauchery like they used to?

The pornstar in question is Allie Foster (pictured), who took to Twitter yesterday to announce:

Howard Jones of Killswitch engage, meet TMZ and your bitter baby momma coming with sweet sweet fuckin revenge you dirtbag.

Hmm, that sounds like good inspiration for a Killswitch song, but I digress.

She then goes on to Tweet that Howard is married and that he has been pressuring her to get an abortion.  Of course, there is a post on her Twitter today which claims that her account was hacked and that she did not post any of that.  So who the eff really knows?  I mean she did post a picture of her baby bump.

I doubt this is the end of what has become a wildly interesting story of cover-up and deception.  But come on Howard, bag it up next time!

-Sam

Here’s a sampling of some interesting stuff going on in the world of metal:

* Mudvayne has debuted their new video for the song “Beautiful and Strange.”  It’s the second video in a three part series.  And it didn’t take long for the video to be banned from all major outlets.  One viewing and you’ll understand why.  Censors don’t usually take kindly to buried-alive fallen angels digging up the graves of surprisingly full-chested naked, dead women and then proceeding to mount them and bang them silly all while images of torture and a girl actually getting her lips sewed together flash on screen.  But hey, that’s fuckin’ metal!  Go watch the necrophiliac’s dream over on VampireFreaks.com.

* Killswitch Engage have a new song, “My Obsession,” on the new God of War video game.  Stream it at Noisecreep.  (It’s really good.)

* Check out the cover art for Sevendust’s new album, Cold Day Memory, and prepare to be severely underwhelmed.  Seriously, that’s the best you could come up with?

* Deftones have released the track list for their new album, Diamond Eyes.

* If anyone (like me) was hoping Limp Bizkit might return to the sound of their first album and/or their last album (aka more emphasis on the band, less on Fred Durst and rapping) this news should dash those hopes: Rappers Raekwon and Paul Wall will both have guest appearances on Gold Cobra.

* Dutch violin player, Karianne Brouwer, has a really cool cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”:

-Sam

[UPDATE: So it seems like Howard Jones is simply hurt and/or sick.  Fill-in singer Phil Labonte had this to say on Twitter: "Yep, I'm singing for KsE until HoJo gets better. Not sure how long it'll be but I'm here till they don't need me anymore."  If that is indeed the case, the band should have just come out said that in the first place instead of allowing some of these rumors to swirl.  In any case, check out this awesome fan-filmed clip of the band playing "My Curse" during the first sans-Howard show.  Labonte didn't know the lyrics yet to this song so he sat it out and the whole crowd just took over.  So cool.  Original story below.]

Whoa.

So I got to go see Killswitch Engage kick off their new tour in Boston last week, and as I wrote, they put on one hell of a show.

Well, the band announced yesterday that lead singer Howard Jones has left the tour “due to unforeseen circumstances.”  Here’s the entire press release:

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE vocalist Howard Jones is leaving the band’s current headlining tour with The Devil Wears Prada and Dark Tranquility due to unforeseen circumstances.  All That Remains vocalist Phil Labonte will be filling in for Jones for a few shows in the interim, until the KsE guys can determine what the plan will be for the remaining tour dates, which are currently scheduled to run through the end of March.

No one knows why Jones has dropped off the tour after just five days.  Speculation ranges from personal/family issues to Jones potentially leaving the band for good.  But again, that’s just all speculation.

The ironic aspect is that he’s being replaced on the tour by Phil Labonte of All That Remains.  You see, when KsE were looking for a new vocalist after the departure of Jesse Leach, it came down to Jones and Labonte, and Jones eventually beat him out for the job.  That in itself is what’s driving the speculation about Jones being gone for good, but realistically, Labonte is probably just the guy the band is most familiar with and who is most familiar with the band’s songs.

Of course, the dark horse explanation for why Jones left the tour is that he couldn’t live with listening to The Devil Wears Prada open for him every night. (Rimshot!)

-Sam

Killswitch Engage, those dyed-in-the-wool metalcore practitioners, began their first U.S. headlining trek behind their latest album on Thursday night in their hometown of Boston at the House of Blues.

And as any frequent concert-goer can tell you, the combination of starting off a tour and playing in one’s hometown generally combine to bring out the best in a band (if not some technical difficulties along the way).

KSE are a band particularly known for their live show due in large part to singer Howard Jones and guitarist/general goofball Adam Dutkiewicz.  They understand that they are there to entertain and they usually seem genuinely stoked to be on stage performing.  Of course, if you aren’t prepared to see a tall, gangly guitarist wearing a cape and headband running back and forth across the stage while jump-kicking and simultaneously shredding all while playing songs of a decidedly more serious nature, it can be a bit disconcerting.  That’s just how KSE rolls; as far as live performances go, fun comes before all else.  I know some people who strongly dislike that choice, but I don’t have a problem with it.  After all, there’s always the album itself to go back to if you don’t like the band’s stage antics.

Anyways, the show started off with a bang as the band hurried on stage and dove immediately into one of their hits, “Rose of Sharyn”.  Throughout the rest of the set they liberally incorporated cuts off their latest record, playing almost half of the songs from that disc.  The new material is not drastically different from their back catalog so it fit in seamlessly.

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