In the music world, there are metal bands and then there are metal bands, groups responsible for defining the genre and essentially helping make it into what it is. And while metal bands are relatively a dime a dozen, there are very few metal bands, maybe enough to count on one hand. Unfortunately genre defining bands are for the most part a dying breed. Luckily, they haven’t all come and gone as evidenced by the resurgence of one of the top metal acts of the last ten years, Killswitch Engage. Over the course of the last decade, Killswitch (or KsE) has played a crucial role in popularizing metalcore music and in turn spawned dozens of acts who have garnered much critical and commercial success. Fortunately enough for fans of the genre, KsE has not faded into the sunset just quite yet as evidenced by a summer tour and the release of the band’s fifth studio record.

Unlike most bands who take a break in between albums and tours, KsE has been working at a torrid pace over the last few years. The group’s last album As Daylight Dies came out at the end of 2006 and was met with positivity for the most part from both fans and critics. After the release of As Daylight Dies, the band somehow managed to tour throughout most of the next two years and still find time to also write and record a new album. From the Warped Tour to a Canadian tour to several stops at various festivals around the world, the guys practically lived on the road for an entire two years. Somehow during and at the end of all of this, the members decided that they felt like writing a new album. Workaholics anyone?

The brand new self-titled record, the second self-titled offering from the band, combines all of the great metalcore elements we’ve come to expect over the years from Killswitch Engage. The guys entered the studio to begin work on the record in October, 2008 with an ambition to change things up a little bit. One of the most significant changes of pace was the fact that for the first time, Killswitch opted to work with a big-time rock producer in Brendan O’Brien rather than self-produce it under the guise of lead guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz. O’Brien had been a fan of the band for years and since they were looking to reinvent elements of their sound, the collaboration made perfect sense for both parties.

With such a seasoned professional such as O’Brien handling the production duties, the band members were able to focus solely on writing as good of material as they possibly could. To achieve this, the members decided to change things up a bit and redefine how they write and record their music. Instead of writing individually and putting parts together in the studio, KsE for the first time wrote together for the most part in a much more collaborative way. Everyone had equal say and contributed songs and song ideas, something that hasn’t always happened with Dutkiewicz and lead singer Howard Jones usually taking charge. The change of pace seems to have worked out just fine based on the mostly positive feedback the record has been receiving since its release and the fact that it debuted at number seven on the charts, Killswitch’s highest debut ever. To coincide with the release of the new album, look out for the band on tour all through the summer and into the fall, including a cross-Canada tour in early September.