We’ve all been there. Tensions are high in some packed, sweaty venue, sparked by feverish excitement and the potential for violence. These people paid good money to enjoy some type of cathartic release. The frontman for whatever hard-nu-death-crab-metal-core outfit is brazen and demanding. Can you believe this shit? You PAID to be entertained, and this guy is telling YOU what to do! The speech goes something like this: “I want everybody in this room moving! Front to back, side to side, NO ONE STANDS STILL! When this part kicks in, I want total [Insert destructive word here like “chaos,” “mayhem,” or “bedlam” if you’re witty]. If the person next to you isn’t moving, MAKE THEM MOVE!” Than, if the action is not adequate, this screamer/pep rally organizer calls YOU some variation of “pussy” or “faggot” or really anything to make you feel like a soft, womanly bitch of a man in order to get in that pit and kick another grown man in the face, all in the spirit of making this band look like they are awesome. But then something happens, as if the air is sucked out of the room at the moment of impact – when those glorious staccato chugs kick in, the crowd is almost always powerless to its charms regardless of the obvious lack of substance. Like junk food and reality TV, we have a love affair with breakdowns.
Last week, during one of my daily perusals of this very blog, I came across a rather scathing recounting of Killswitch Engage’s self-titled album, which came out earlier this year. This caught me a bit off guard, as I considered it to be one of my favorite albums of the year and a step in the right direction from Daylights Dies, which was at first very disappointing but grew on me after some time. I was even more surprised when I saw that most user comments tended to agree with the blog entry.
Most of the criticism seemed to center around Killswitch’s supposed inability to stray from their winning formula. People seemed to think that their sound had become stagnant, and that there wasn’t enough variety between albums and songs. Now I don’t disagree that KSE has a pretty standard formula for their songs and a definitive sound that really hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years, but I am disagreeing that this is necessarily a bad thing. I want to ask you guys if you think it’s better for a band to stick to a relatively confined style through their career like Hatebreed, Cannibal Corpse, or Motorhead, or is it better to expand and experiment like Mastodon, The Haunted, or Cave In.