Today was a weird day for me. My workplace got evacuated because there was a fire in a shop downstairs. So I guess you could say that their sales were lit.
But after that had all simmered down, I excitedly made my way across the city to what ashamedly feels like my second home these days – 170 Russell – for a show that I have been waiting on for months now; Killswitch Engage playing ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’ in full with US heavyweights, Fallujah and Perth’s very own crushers, Cursed Earth in support. Oh, boy.
So, let’s get into it!
Hitting the stage first tonight was Perth’s Cursed Earth. And holy shit, Batman, the riffs here! THE RIFFS HERE!
This heavy as fuck Aussie quintet has been making waves over the past 18 months, chalking up some great national tours with the likes of Code Orange and much more recently Graves, Kublai Khan and Justice For The Damned, acquiring a very dedicated fan base along the way.
Opening up for a band like Killswitch Engage is not an easy feat, especially playing a style of music that is on the other end of the heavy music spectrum to a predominately older and more “metal” crowd. But Cursed Earth did it with not only great ease but they also looked incredibly comfortable on the big stage; making everyone in the room shut up and direct their attention to the stage and appreciate their style.
Vocalist Jazmine Luders did a great job at getting the slowly building crowd interested in her band’s set, displaying a massive presence up on stage in which she always held your attention, with it never wavering.
The band powered through a superbly strong 20-minuteute set, smashing out their huge riff driven sound to help them execute one of the tightest and most entertaining sets that I’ve seen a hardcore band play in recent memory.
Now, I’m one of those people who, if I haven’t listened to a band before, likes to listen to a band for the first time live, just so I can experience them in a live setting as I feel I appreciate them more by witnessing a band’s talent (or lack thereof) right in-the-moment. As such, I appreciated the hell out of Fallujah!
This band has combined every aspect of bullshit heavy riffs and beautiful soaring melodies to create this incredible concoction of progressive metal and brutal death metal. Instrumentally this band is mind blowing. Guitarists Scott Carstairs and Brian James are impeccable and watching them play is mesmerising. They shred through their riffs and licks like no tomorrow but they do it oh so effortlessly, with their hands looking like they are glued to the guitar’s fretboard, but really they are playing (what feels like) a million notes a second.
To me, it did seem that it took vocalist Alex Hoffmann one or two songs to warm up, sounding quite soft in the opening tracks (though, this could’ve just been a mic or mixing issue) but once his vocals were audible, I appreciated his unique style of screams, with his high screams sounding like a pterodactyl that is about to fuck your shit right up.
Truly devastating stuff.
All in all, this is a band that I will actually listen to again when I tell my mates “Yeah, I’ll listen to them again” (but I never do).
With the call out of “THE TIME APPROACHES!”, 170 Russell exploded as Killswitch Engage began their massive ‘Alive Or Just Breathing‘ set.
Honestly, I have never seen a crowd at this particular venue lose their minds at the opening line of a set quite like tonight’s crowd did. You can tell that ‘Numbered Days‘ was definitely the soundtrack to a majority of this crowd’s youth, as they joined their teenage heroes in pouring their hearts and emotions out during this opening track of what was going to become a set to remember. ‘Fixation On The Darkness‘ saw the crowd’s choir levels at full voice during the song’s iconic Killswitch chorus, which was the perfect warm up to what is arguably THE essential KSE – ‘My Last Serenade‘. With the band well and truly warmed up, they smashed through this monster of an anthem with all guns blazing, with Jesse Leach’s incredible vocal versatility on display as he pulled out his wicked mid-range screams in the verses and then serenading us all (ha-ha-ha) with his angelic clean singing in those huge choruses.
Look, I am a huge fan of this current trend of bands playing albums cover-to-cover live. It means that you get to hear your favourite tracks that aren’t necessarily the popular songs or singles, and that everyone knows what songs are coming. Ergo, ‘Life To Lifeless‘ was up next, with another batch of crushing riffs supplied by everyone’s favourite The Price Is Right winner, Adam Dutkiewicz. This man has to be one of the most charismatic musicians you’ll ever see on stage, chugging put punishing riffs and ear-piercing pinch harmonics as he lankily trots around the entire stage in his above knee shorts, cut-off T and signature Terry Towling headband.
The man is clearly loving life and fans love watching him do his thang
Even though I’ve been re-listening to the album the past few days, I forget just how good the last five songs are. The album’s guitar work is impeccable and the overall musicianship and songwriting were definitely ahead of its time. ‘Alive Or Just Breathing‘ was released in 2002, a time where metalcore was barely a thing yet and out comes this bloody record that’s combined the technicality and harmonious sounds of melodic metal and the huge breakdowns of hardcore into a great boiling pot of sounds.
In saying this, the band then hits the album closer, ‘Rise Inside‘ and the song’s relentless breakdown is just so gut-busting it feels like a UFC fighter is kicking you directly in the stomach for a full hour. But you love it, all the same.
With the celebration of ‘Alive Or Just Breathing‘ finished, the boys launch into an onslaught of assorted greatest hits, spanning the rest of their impressive back catalogue, with long time fan favourite ‘A Bid Farewell‘ giving the crowd their second wind after the previous cover-to-cover performance.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Killswitch show without ‘My Curse‘. I’ve always said that “if you took Howard Jones’ cleans and put them with Jesse Leach’s screams, you would have the perfect vocalist”, and I still think that that would be an amazing combination. Even so, tonight Leach proved to me – and many others, I’m sure – that he can sing the Jones songs just as good, if not better, all while adding his own stamp to those iconic songs and choruses.
Overall, this show was easily one of the best shows that I’ve been too that had had such a diverse lineup such as this. For real.
The crowd inside 170 Russell this night was treated to a grand evening of bone crushing cross-over hardcore with Cursed Earth, mesmerising progressive death metal in the form of Fallujah, and then a terrific set from metalcore titans Killswitch Engage, and it was clear that a vast majority of punters enjoyed each of the three bands that hit the stage hard!
PC: Bree Wallace, who took this gig very last minute – thank you!
Check out her other work here and suss out a few more of her shots from the night below.