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Jesse Leach Makes A Comeback

The vocalist returns to American metalcore band, Killswitch Engage and delivers a notable album

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Bobin James Jun 27, 2013
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Killswitch Engage. Photo: EMI Music

Killswitch Engage. Photo: EMI Music

In early April, Massachusetts metalcore band Killswitch Engage released their sixth studio album, Disarm the Descent, marking the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach after close to a decade. Just when Killswitch Engage was on the verge of their big breakthrough, Leach quit the band after Alive Or Just Breathing released in 2002. Leach was replaced by Howard Jones who got behind the microphone for the band’s next three career-defining albums. Jones then quit early 2012 to be replaced by the man he originally replaced ”“ Leach. Explaining his decision to leave the band in 2002, he says, “Obviously, being just a kid had a huge influence on me leaving and not being prepared for my career to take off and all the other things I was dealing with, including depression.”

Killswitch Engage’s new album Disarm the Descent is everything one would expect from the metalcore band, and then some more, especially in the speed department. “Yeah, it definitely is much faster. There’s more aggression,” says Leach. “I also think there is a good balance of emotion coming through in the melody as well. But definitely the speed is there, which I really like. It really makes for a better listen in my opinion. Especially since it’s my first record after coming back into the band, it’s a really nice way to jump back in and pick up the pace, especially from the last record.”

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Leach informs us that the music for Disarm the Descent was written before he rejoined the band, which meant he had a set of tracks (minus vocals) to write lyrics to. “So when I listened to the record, I just did the best I could to get influenced by the sound and the noises that I was hearing. I would write down words that came to my mind and then work off of that,” says Leach. “So, it was really influenced by the music, first and foremost.” The vocalist says that he’s also been working on honing his own skills as a songwriter and be able to incorporate different approaches to songwriting. “As I grow older, I am striving to broaden my style to incorporate storytelling as well as autobiographical material. So when you are reading the lyrics, there could be three or four topics that I am addressing within that one lyric. So I think it’s really me sort of pushing my writing to the next level where I can write a song that had a lot to do with me personally but as a listener, you could probably draw your own conclusion about what I am writing,” says Leach, who prefers to take off on a long ride on his mountain bike when struck by the dreaded writer’s block. “Movement in general, whether it’s on my bicycle or in my car, movement is one way that always helps me to write,” he says. “I think it might have to do with me traveling a lot as a child. It’s that gypsy life that’s in my blood. When I am in a tour bus watching the world go by, it’s very easy for me to write stuff down.”

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When news broke about Leach’s return to the band, expectedly a lot of comparisons cropped up between his style and that of his successor, Jones. While Leach was well aware of these expectations, he says he tried not to think about the pressures or expectations of fans and critics once he was back. “For me, it’s just a matter of getting back in there, hanging out with my friends and doing the best job that I can do. For me, the bottomline letting fans know that I am reconnecting with my friends, but also honoring the tradition of a band that I was not part of, for a good nine years,” he says. For the first time in his life, has to sing songs he hasn’t written, but Leach is confident about doing justice to those songs too. “When I get on stage to sing the songs that I did not write, I am really conscious of the fact that I’ve gotta embody them, I gotta live within them to be genuine and not just go through the motions and be a cover singer,” says Leach. “But the expectations and pressures are only there if you allow them to be.” 

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