Killswitch Engage: Fifth Dimension

Originally published in Guitar World, June 2009

Killswitch Engage enter new realms with their upcoming album.

For the past decade, metalcore pioneers Killswitch Engage have repeatedly scrutinized and tweaked their sound to remain ahead of the curve. So when they listened back to their 2006 album Daylight Dies and determined it was a bit too structurally similar to 2004’s The End of Heartache, they decided to make some changes for their upcoming, and as yet untitled, fifth record.

For starters, guitarists Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel added an array of spacious arpeggios, slow, sludgy stoner riffs and syncopated technical death metal passages to their trademark blend of chug-and-stomp rhythms and twin-guitar harmonies. Then they diversified their sound by dialing up new tones for different songs on a variety of amps, including Splawns, Diezels, Fuchs and Oranges, and plugging in an array of overdrive and delay pedals.

Says Stroetzel “We wanted to have lots of textures and sounds going on so that everything is big and harmonically rich. We played guitars through a Leslie speaker and added tons of overdubs of octaves and feedback.”

Killswitch Engage wrote 16 new songs for the album between September and December 2008, then entered the studio with veteran producer Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Mastodon), who they hoped would help further diversify their songs. But in late January, after Justin Foley tracked his drums, Dutkiewicz and Stroetzel decided they weren’t comfortable in O’Brien’s deluxe Atlanta studio, so they returned to their Westfield, Massachusetts, studio, Zing, where Dutkiewicz had produced the group’s previous albums. Dutkiewicz says, “It blew my mind that Brendan trusted me to go back there and record the guitars. But it was cool to have his input because that guy makes Platinum records in his sleep.”

The record should be out in time for the band’s appearance on this summer’s Rockstar Mayhem festival. But Dutkiewicz is concerned about playing the material live. “A lot of it is really difficult to play,” he gripes. “There’s no way I’m gonna be able to pull it off live when I’m drunk as crap, so that means I can’t get tossed until after the show. But I guess anybody else would be fired for showing up to their job wasted, so it’s only fair.”

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