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When it comes to the topic of ‘metalcore’ bands, you go one way or the other. You either embrace whole-heartedly their propensity for soaring choruses and love of Gothenburgian guitar tones (as opposed to nu-metal ‘riffs’), or you despise the very sound of another band trying to make a career out of ripping off ‘Slaughter Of The Soul.’ Killswitch Engage have been dividing metalheads between the two, and barring a few exceptional songs, I would fall into the latter camp.
However, I took it upon myself to try and enjoy the DVD, considering some of the raving reviews in magazines (not Kerrap!, mind you, publications of a respectable ilk), and watched it within an hour of buying it. And did the latest output of Roadrunner’s darlings convert me to the way of KsE?
Maybe I was wrong to start off with the live show, because while the DVD is a million miles from terrible, the gig is… Well, watching the live performance is exactly the same as putting ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’ or ‘The End Of Heartache’ onto the stereo. Here and there you will find some truly shining gems, but for the most part the action chunders along with next to nothing worthy of mention, let alone praise. ‘(Set This) World Ablaze’ follows precisely that pattern, with the obvious exception of performances being far less professional than anything you’ll hear on record – this is of course down to Adam D, a man who has no doubt won prizes for sheer idiotic dickheaded-ness in his lifetime. Dancing around the stage in short shorts and a cape in the name of entertainment and showmanship is one thing; forgetting to play your guitar because you’re waving your crotch in every direction possible is another thing entirely (funny as hell of course, just makes your sound suck, fuckface).
Like another reviewer has already said, it’s damn near impossible to watch the entire gig in one go – you WILL end up skipping to songs like ‘When Darkness Falls’ ‘My Last Serenade’ and the truly immense ‘Rose Of Sharyn’, which thankfully offer up some form of excitement to redeem the show. It is a shame to put KsE down this way, because when you discard Adam’s occasional sloppiness and Howard Jones’ tendency to let the crowd do his singing for him (those fuckers were damn loud that night!), the band is a fantastically tight unit, and there’s no doubt that they look like they’re having the time of their lives onstage. Damn shame.
However, the real gold can be found if you dig into the mammoth documentary ‘From The Bedroom To The Basement.’ By Satan this was fun to watch. Charting the bands rise from bands like Aftershock and Overcast, through underground tours with Soilwork and Kittie, detailing former singer Jesse Leach’s departure in a frank and honest manner, right up to their performance on the Download 04 main stage (that show, on a personal note, was actually rather good), the entire documentary is edited and embellished with loving attention to detail – the band certainly didn’t fuck around when creating this. And barring the ass-kissing Century Media A&R man, it’s great to see such a massive plethora of guests come on to talk up (and rip the piss out of) KsE.
So while the live show will offer little in the way of memorable moments, the documentary is more than worthy of the retail price alone. All in all, perhaps this DVD is a little more worthwhile than it appears at face value – but if you ain’t a fan you may be advised to be cautious with your ill-gotten money. But either way, always remember: “This song is about God Forbid riding a skateboard! It’s called: ‘When Darkness Falls!!!’”
I'm sure a lot of people are having doubts right now about KsE. AoJB was absolutely awesome, but TEOH was fairly emo-ish, and the vocals weren't as good etc. This is good proof that KsE are still a kick ass band.
It doesn't start off too promisingly though. Bid Farewell always had a fairly lame intro, and it sounds ten times worse live. Sounds like something Limp Bizkit would do. But after that serious misstep, the live show is a cracker. Howard Jones hasn't mastered the art of talking to the crowd yet, but he has a good stage presence and is a much, much better singer live. His screams are still good, but his clean voice is far better then it was in the studio.
The guitars, bass and drums are all super awesome too. Adam D adds a few cool little extra licks in Breathe Life and a few other songs. For the most part, he's content to run around like Angus Young in dodgy Denim cut offs and a Vampire cloak (WTF Mate?). Joel and Mike for the most part are content to head bang all the time, it's pretty good stuff. Also the drummer, Justin Foley. He sounded fairly generic on the album, but like Howard, he's much, much better live, doing a few cool fills and putting a lot more personality into the drums.
The setlist is definetly worth mentioning, it's really good. Lots of stuff of AoJB, a bit off TEOH and even a song of their debut album. It seems like Howard isn't as enthusiatic with the earlier stuff, but it still all sounds super good. I just wish they'd played Just Barely Breathing.. Oh well. HIghlights of the set would be Temple from the Within, Numbered Days and Take this Oath.
The extras are pretty good too. It's a fairly in-depth history of KsE, complete with some pretty cool old home videos from their early days, their days in Overcast/Aftershock etc. Lots of interviews from band members, former band members, other metalcore bands etc.
So it's a pretty solid dvd, I guess the one whinge I have is that it sounds like the live mix was really, really screwed with in the studio. The guitars and bass are all super chunky, and I have no problem with Adam D adding a bit more chunk and definition, but come on, is the crowd really that loud? Maybe they are just rabid fans. But it's only a minor complaint. I'd say this is a must buy for KsE fans, there's some real good stuff here.
Edit: Dropping it down by ten percent. It's a good DVD, but there are quite a few better ones out there, so, only 82% for this one now.
Edit Edit: Sorry Mr.Mod, forgot to actually drop it by 10%.