Release Date: May 11, 2004
Reviewed by Scott Olivenbaum

There are few bands in the loud music scene right now as popular as Killswitch Engage. Their Roadrunner Records debut, Alive Or Just Breathing, was hugely successful and the band’s persistent touring has built up a powerful fanbase. The true test, as always, in finding a way to follow up a big seller. The shadow that is cast is one that many, many bands find unable to crawl out from under.

Somehow the Massachusetts group didn’t crawl out … they obliterated it with a sophomore album that matches, if not surpasses, their 2002 release. The End of Heartache emphasizes all of the best qualities of Killswitch. It has powerful guitars, moving melodies and emotional lyrics and booming vocals that range from throaty screams to crooning.

Where many albums nowadays are released with perhaps one worthwhile, standout track (and thus the promiscuous mp3 downloading) The End Of Heartache demands purchase as there are no less than six amazing songs. From “When Darkness Falls” (from the Freddy vs. Jason soundtrack) to the first single “Rose of Sharyn” to the heart wrenching title track, Killswitch takes the listener on an emotional journey into the perils of relationships.

Considering that The End Of Heartache is first studio album with Howard Jones on vocals and drummer Justin Foley behind the kit, Killswitch is remarkably tight and focused. Perhaps that is due to the band’s near-constant touring since their last release, or perhaps it is the drive of the original members (guitarist/album producer Adam Dutkiewicz, lead guitarist Joel Stroetzel and bassist Mike D’Antonio), but the end result is a must buy for the metal fan.

The combination of metal and hardcore is something that has begun to proliferate in the music world and Killswitch Engage is at the forefront of the movement, setting the benchmark that all bands of this ilk will forever have to follow.

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