Metal bands seldom claim they've gone soft when they have fresh material coming down the pipe. Whatever they've been working on recently is always, without fail, the "heaviest thing" they've ever had a hand in.
And sure, New England metallers Killswitch Engage are no different — but at least they've got a sense of humor about it.
"It's the softest thing we've ever done," teased bassist Mike D'Antonio from a cell phone in England, where this weekend, the Ozzfest veterans will be taking the stages of the Reading and Leeds festivals. "They were calling us metalcore for a long time, and now we're going to have to add another word — like emo metalcore. We'll need to create yet another genre, and people will start wearing dresses after listening to this thing."
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
Killswitch's forthcoming album, As Daylight Dies, is going to be, according to D'Antonio, "f---ing metal in full force." But the band didn't head into the studio with any specific intentions to turn up the heavy meter and churn out an LP that'd make 2004's The End of Heartache seem like a walk through the daisies.
"There was really hardly any thought put into it at all," he recalled. "It just came out and we hadn't written in so long that everyone had a lot to contribute. It felt more like the sessions for [2002's] Alive or Just Breathing, where everyone was contributing, and everyone had a say. That is more, to me, what the Killswitch style is. But, it is the typical line that everyone gives you — that this is a heavier album — but it kind of is. It's definitely way heavier. There are still the melodic choruses here and there, and there's a lot to latch onto. But it's heavy."
As Daylight Dies is the result of more than a month and a half in the studio with Killswitch guitarist and one of metal's "it" producers, Adam Dutkiewicz (Underoath, All That Remains). Dutkiewicz will also be mixing the record, which is due November 21. D'Antonio said the disc will feature a dozen songs, including "This Is Absolution," "For You" and the title track, which kicks things off.
D'Antonio says he doesn't have any expectations for the album, but As Daylight Dies could end up propelling Killswitch into the mainstream. "We shall see," he said. "It's time to buy a house."
Fans won't find any special guests on As Daylight Dies; Heartache, which has sold more than 410,000 copies, featured an appearance by erstwhile frontman Jesse Leach, who left the band in 2002. "With that, we really just wanted to show everybody that there were no hard feelings and we still love the guy," D'Antonio explained. "On this one, we didn't want to use anybody else. We wanted it to be just us — a stripped-down Killswitch. And, that's what we did: We stuck to our guns." D'Antonio, who designs the band's album art, said several picture frames met their demise for As Daylight Dies, all in the name of Killswitch.
"There's going to be a lot of shattered glass on the cover," he said. "I bought a ton of frames, glued them to a blackboard and smashed them all over my apartment. There are still glass shards all over the rug. The cover's kind of a dark and light idea — the real dark side of life and the real light side. It's sort of a face on one side, with the other half being the Killswitch skull."
D'Antonio said the band plans to spend the rest of the year touring, and hopes to be on the road for much of '07. "We've got several places that we've never been to before coming up," he explained. "We're going to do an Alaska date for the first time ever, and we're really excited for that — we're totally going to go on a polar-bear-riding trip. We'll be heading over to Japan and then Australia and New Zealand, and on the way back we're hitting Hawaii. So life is pretty rough."
And in November, Killswitch will step out for a U.S. headlining run, but exact dates are still being hammered out for that trek.
D'Antonio also recently finished working on Reborn to Kill Again, the forthcoming album from the reunited Overcast, featuring himself and Shadows Fall frontman Brian Fair (see "Metal File: Overcast, Black Dahlia Murder, Nevermore, D.R.I. & More News That Rules"). He said the band has signed a deal, but that he can't reveal with which label yet. The Dutkiewicz-produced LP, which is due in May, "came out way better than anyone had anticipated," D'Antonio said.
"Adam just did the most amazing job with Brian's vocals, with the thick guitars," he said. "The songs just have this whole new life to them and everyone who's heard it has really, really loved it and actual Overcast fans will really appreciate some of the little intros that we do and different intricacies here and there. I think our fans are going to dig it a lot."