Well-established metal label Roadrunner might be best known in recent years for unleashing fiercely modern metal behemoths like Slipknot
upon the modern rock consciousness, but Alive or Just Breathing
, the second album from Killswitch Engage, finds the company reaffirming its vows to the spirit of extreme thrash that it was founded in. In truth, Alive or Just Breathing
is not a pure thrash metal statement--this Massachusetts five-piece have the modern rock nous to add hefty slabs of accessible stadium rock to their frantic assault.
Mind you, that's certainly a good thing: "Numbered Days" might rock awful hard, but it still has time to squeeze in a memorable chorus (albeit, one about the disintegration of civilisation as we know it). Frontman Jesse David Leach's excellent vocals are strongly influenced by religion, philosophy and mythology: the likes of "Temple from the Within" and "Self Revolution" find him wrestling with an ideology that falls somewhere between the serene meditative state of Buddhism and a brooding sense of Nietzschean self-belief. The closing "Rise Inside" even holds a positive message behind its brutal hardcore exterior, Leach shrieking "I believe love will overcome" as the album grinds to a rocky end. This is a quality example of metal done the old way. --Louis Pattison