NEPA Scene Staff

Metal bands Killswitch Engage and Anthrax shred at Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Jan. 27

Metal bands Killswitch Engage and Anthrax shred at Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Jan. 27
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From a press release:

It was announced today that gold-selling Massachusetts metalcore outfit Killswitch Engage and legendary Big Four thrash metal band Anthrax will bring The Killthrax Tour to the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. with special guests Havok.

Tickets, which are $35 in advance, go on sale this Friday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. and will be available through the Sherman Theater box office (524 Main St., Stroudsburg), online at shermantheater.com and ticketfly.com, and all Ticketmaster outlets. VIP boxes and sky boxes are available for this show and include eight tickets (VIP box) or 12 tickets (sky box), a fruit and cheese platter, and waitstaff. To purchase box seats, call the theater at 570-420-2808.

Within every musical movement of any importance, there are those few whose monikers are synonymous with specific strains of artistic achievement. It is from the creative leadership of these trailblazers that dozens of descendants have undeniably drawn inspiration. To mention one of these bands in conversation is to mentally conjure a musical identity, a fellowship of fans and of multiple inspired acts.

Killswitch Engage has become one such entity. Built organically from the most potent components of melodic, heavy, and catchy-as-hell European death metal and the almost spiritual essence of the most grimy, urgent, and forever yearning American hardcore, the brilliantly individual and self-described “Massholes” in Killswitch (as fans often abbreviate it) have come to define a generational shift equal parts inevitable and by design, as cultural earthquakes and uprisings often are.

The arrival of their self-titled debut and their Roadrunner-released follow-up, the Decibel Magazine “Hall of Fame” classic “Alive or Just Breathing,” heralded the dawn of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal and introduced the world to the soulful declarations-against-the-darkness of pensive, uplifting singer Jesse Leach. The singer’s thoughtful lyrics were paired with the dynamic, fluid, and unstoppable riffing of drummer-turned-guitarist/producer and on-stage madman Adam Dutkiewicz. Joel Stroetzel’s guitar sound, tone, and technique remain driving, persistent, and immediate, laying the foundation for the band’s dueling guitar style. Co-founding member and illustrative architect Mike D’Antonio has long served as an anchor personally, professionally, and rhythmically and has designed the band’s cover and album art from the beginning. He has been backed, for most of the band’s career, by drummer Justin Foley, whose polyrhythms drove Blood Has Been Shed for years and whose command behind the kit in Killswitch is undeniable.

The decade that followed after Kerrang! promised that Killswitch’s fresh reinvigoration of the genre would “kill nu-metal dead” saw the band sell millions across the globe, including two certified gold albums in the United States: “The End of Heartache” (the first following Leach’s departure) and “As Daylight Dies.” From Ozzfest to Warped Tour to the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, from the cover of Revolver to their first Grammy nomination, to headlining slots at major international festivals and beyond, Killswitch Engage has maintained a high-minded artistic standard of achievement even as their stage show has offered enthusiastic positivity alongside the histrionics.

“My Last Serenade,” “Fixation on the Darkness,” “The End of Heartache,” “My Curse,” “Rose of Sharyn,” and “When Darkness Falls” are just the beginning of a mammoth list of anthems imprinted upon the collective psyche of an underground generation. They’re embedded through participatory singing at festivals, theater performances, and solitary drives to work, school, and to visit long distance loved ones fueled by the crackle of Killswitch on rock radio, specialty stations, and all over SiriusXM.

When Killswitch Engage found themselves singerless for a second time in 2012, Leach was gunning to reclaim his old spot. His passion was renewed for the songs he wrote with the band, and he connected with the stuff that had come after as he explored it.

“That was the big thing for me. Could I handle [the later stuff]? Could I live in the music?” he recalls. “I’m not the type of singer to just go up there and run through the motions. So when I started to fall in love with those songs, it all became really clear.”

Learning to enjoy the road again while supporting the album he and Dutkiewicz had made as members of Times of Grace helped as well. The remaining Killswitch members saw the fire and passion Leach brought to his auditions, making the decision to invite him back a no-brainer.

“Jesse had come in with so much passion and fire, he said, ‘I’m ready, man. I’m ready to do this. Hire me!’” Dutkiewicz recalls. “He had an advantage, of course, with his own songs. And he did the newer songs justice, which was very important. So even after trying a couple people out, the choice was obvious to us.”

Leach’s homecoming with Killswitch Engage coincided with the band’s definitive work. Killswitch’s sixth studio album, “Disarm the Descent,” was their first with Leach behind the mic in over 10 years, an accomplished, versatile, and electric contribution to an already historic discography that will remain forever etched in the annals of heavy metal.

As Metallica once took a hold of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and punk to create thrash, Killswitch Engage have reclaimed the combustible fire of that explosively experimental moment when they first combined the seemingly disparate energy of At The Gates and Carcass with the art-noise of Bloodlet and Deadguy. The middle ground where irresistible force meets immovable object has always been the name of the KsE game. They’ve once again harnessed the past for a momentous future, making the best of the rest their own with unrivaled catchiness and songcraft.

“It’s extremely different. We’re talking a decade of growth, a decade of change, and a decade of ups and downs,” says Leach. “My confidence is intact; I know what to do with my instrument. I feel a lot more comfortable on stage; it just seems like a natural fit now. 10 years ago, I was a very different person. We’ve all been through enough life to know how to communicate better. That really helps with the vibe and overall scenery of the band. Coming back has been extremely easy. Communication is at an all-time high right now, and I think that’s a great way to start, starting fresh.”

That feeling of renewal continues with their latest album, “Incarnate,” released in March of 2016. They continue to do what they do best and the fans continue to respond, as “Incarnate” debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, with 34,709 in total activity, as well as at No. 3 on the New Music Chart and at No. 1 on both the Rock Chart and the Hard Music Chart. On the international front, the album debuted at No. 1 overall in Canada, at No. 5 in Australia, and at No. 10 in both the United Kingdom and in Germany. These mark the band’s highest debuts ever.

From the lyrics, to the tones, to the overall passion and commitment behind the Killswitch sound and vision, this is a band whose legacy is assured. Across seven albums, a DVD, countless tours, and whatever the future holds, Killswitch Engage will remain one of those names that immediately conjures a specific sound, a particular community of fans, and a well-balanced ethos of seriousness and levity.

Dutkiewicz boils down the Killswitch mission thusly: “I want people to go to the shows and have a great time. Party, feel the music, also maybe have a chuckle. It’s the entertainment business, man. We’re supposed to feel something. We’re supposed to enjoy it. That’s all there is to it, I think. If we can do that and make people enjoy what we’re doing, that’s all I ever wanted to do.”