Overall Score: 9/10 performance: 9/10 replay value : 9/10 production: 8/10 Pros: A unique live album from a band on the form of their lives Cons: Over produced in places
For the last two years Live Music has been a scarce luxury, one that many of us had possibly taken for granted, but when it was taken away from us, many felt lost. A lot of bands & artists tried many different avenues to be able to perform for fans, whether it was lower capacity gigs, stripped back sets, or the most popular and reliable, the live stream.
A live stream into your home will never compensate for or replicate the feeling of being at a gig in the flesh. With that said, for those of us craving some semblance of normalcy and missing our favourite artists the live stream shows became a vital lifeline.
Let’s be frank here, Killswitch Engage are one of the best live bands of the planet from any era and any genre. Their shows are always electric and there is an energy exchange between band and fans live that is simply euphoric. Seeing & hearing the band perform in an empty arena provides a unique insight into the bands live experience then.
Live at the Palladium brings together the bands Vaccinated & Intoxicated sets from their 2021 livestream together in a special package, as they perform 2019’s Atonement and their 2000 Self titled albums in full.
Let’s get the obvious bit out of the way first. This is a very odd listening experience to the ear, the lack of crowd noise and the smooth production, adds a studio sounding air to proceedings giving both performances a vibe that is more akin to a band jamming demoes in a studio than playing a live show. This is not a criticism, as much as it is an observation, this was always going to be the case given the circumstances. It also helps that Killswitch Engage are tighter than tight live, so the margin for any live goofs is also going to be minimal.
With that out of the way, the performances themselves are nothing but spellbinding. It’s hard to believe that KSE are now considered elder statesmen of Metalcore. Having been in the scene for over 20 years, but playing with the vigor and intensity of bands half their age. The songs from Atonement sound absolutely ferocious here, an album that was already a career highlight truly comes alive here. Every lyric spat with defiant rage, despite the situation we were all in at the time and in some cases in spite of it.
Some bands could only wish to write songs as good as This Signal Fire, I am Broken Too and The Crownless King, and even less bands could ever perform them the way they are delivered here. Time away from each other and playing music turned KSE into caged animals and this live recording is the sound of that animal rampaging through the streets.
The second disc comprises the full playthrough of their self titled, self funded 2000 album. It’s incredible to think that the songs on display are 22 years old. It’s a testament to not only how ahead of their peers the band were at the time, but also how far they have come as a band. You could have told me this album was released as the follow up to Atonement and I’d have believed you.
Time has been kind to these songs, and it’s interesting to hear the band return to them now as the battle hardened road warriors they have become over the last 20 years. The closing 3 tracks alone Soilborn, Numb Sick Eyes, In the Unblind all come ripping out of the speakers with the frenzied intensity of a gremlin who has just been given a meal after midnight. Ending the performance on a colossal rendition of Just Barely Breathing ensures that the album ends on a high that you won’t soon come down from, and seems extremely poignant given what we have all gone through in recent times.
I have always been a Killswitch Engage fan, I believe the correct terminology would be “fanboy” so it was with trepidation that I approached this release. I know they can bring it live, but I feared this would be a sterile somewhat hollow representation of their live abilities given the circumstances surrounding it’s creation. While there are moments where obviously it does across a little bit too polished and as previously mentioned the lack of crowd involvement gives it a studio feel (obviously) that is not involved in other live releases. It is also a unique snapshot from a moment in time that is now a life affirming momento that we can carry with us, as a reminder that even in the hardest of times, the strongest wills can prevail, and I can’t think of a better way to honour Killswitch Engage’s legacy and mission statement than that.
Live at the Palladium will be released on June 3rd via Metal Blade Records