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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aliver or just amazed?
All I have to say about this album is....well no words can describe it. This is one of the finest albums RoadRunner Records have released in a long while. The vocals range from angry screams and growls to amazing singing. Jesse (vocals) has got the voice to take this band far...but its a shame that he couldn't. the new singer Howard...yea hes good .... but hes no...
Published on 23 Sep 2004

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good metal album but a step backwards
I know 3 stars sounds harsh because this is a really good metal album, but once you've heard the first album it really pales in comparison and you realise this could have been so much better. In the move to roadrunner and the move from 4 to 5 piece they seem to have lost the essence of what made them so great in the first place...hardcore. The new drummer has none of the...
Published on 10 Jun 2002 by Andrew Selvage


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aliver or just amazed?, 23 Sep 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Alive Or Just Breathing (Audio CD)
All I have to say about this album is....well no words can describe it. This is one of the finest albums RoadRunner Records have released in a long while. The vocals range from angry screams and growls to amazing singing. Jesse (vocals) has got the voice to take this band far...but its a shame that he couldn't. the new singer Howard...yea hes good .... but hes no Jesse.
The guitars on this album are very good, thrashing out all sorts of riffs and squeels. The drumming goes so well with the whole sound, offbeat sumtimes and pure speed at other times. A real great blend.
Stand out tracks are, well....all of them, i realy can't say what my favourites are, all the songs are amazing in their own way. You must buy this album to agree with me, if u already have it then you must know what Im goin on about. I cant give 6 stars tho so im havin to give 5. BUY IT !!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entered Into A New Religion, 6 Mar 2003
By 
S. Wheeler (North Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alive Or Just Breathing (Audio CD)
Once you really get into Killswitch Engage it's kinda hard to turn back. I bought this album on the strength of just one song, but find myself now loving all of them. With this album I taught myself to thrash and roar, and I'm better for it.
Alive or Just Breathing is on of those albums you'll either love or hate, but if you love it it's because you hear the guitar sequences and the lyrics and feel something powerful like I have. As someone who listens to this album, and only this album, when I walk to work at 7am, it certainly can wake you up! There's more energy to this effort than the first album, which was evident when I saw them live at Rock City.
Adam Dutkiewski is a magician who can do anything, and he's pulled a black metal rabbit out of his hat. You won't be disappointed if you turn the volume up loud and get your mates round for a thrashing session with a few brewskis inside you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic : Metallalica with more melodic parts!, 23 Aug 2002
This review is from: Alive Or Just Breathing (Audio CD)
On the first listen to this album you can tell that Killswitch Engage definately have a Metallica influence which is good but with this they combine amazingly catchy choruses and melodic parts like on the intro to "my last serenade" and "the element of one" and on "without a name". I reccomend this album if you like any type of metal from the Deftones to Slayer it is a great record you must buy it. Frontman Jesse's voice is amazing going from screaming to singing in a second. Album of the year for me. BUY THIS NOW!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal, heavy but damn melodic, 25 Jun 2002
This review is from: Alive Or Just Breathing (Audio CD)
Suprisingly a guitar band out of the States who don't do the 'Nu-metal' thing. Which is great, in fact. Killswitch combine Fear Factory, Slipknot, Machine Head and Metallica. Ok, that's quite a few bands but these guys can play. The songs do tend to follow a similar pattern; pounding riffs followed by a beautifully observed melodic chorus or bridge section; but that's not a bad thing. In other words they strip paint yet soar to highs which are extremely uncommon in most of todays metal outfits. Jesse D. Leach's vocal are pretty damn good; think Corey from Slipknot then Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. This guy has range, and then some. Naturally there are fillers on the album but if you're kinda bored with the Limp Bizkits of this world then Killswitch will blow your socks off. Special mention to band member Adam Dutkiewicz who produced and engineered the album, and I daresay wrote a good deal of the music too. Great stuff.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transfiguration of the Soul, 19 Feb 2008
By 
J. Clarke "Alright Sally" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
2 years after their self titled album, Killswitch Engage gained some prestige with 2002's 'Alive Or Just Breathing' and lead single 'My Last Serenade'. Buoyed by favourable reviews, strong writing abilities and a human swiss army knife in Adam Dutkiewicz (a guitarist, drummer, backing vocalist, recording engineer and producer) KsE grasped the opportunity to put together an album worthy of defining the metal-core genre. AOJB is 45 minutes of brutally delivered philosophy, spread out across 12 tracks each averaging 3 and half minutes, 2 of which are found on the previous album, with stronger guitar work and smoother vocals. With the Roadrunner Records 25th anniversary edition (20 tracks, 1 hour & 13 minutes long), you get a thick recyclable case with the original album, a lyric booklet and a second disc with demos, B-sides, outtakes and official music videos. After hearing the single, buying the album was essential, making this my first real introduction to heavy metal music, pushed straight into the deep end, only to find sparkling gems below the surface. As intense as it may seem, its not just solid screaming, double bass pedal and thrashing guitars, thrown into the mix are clean vocals, uplifting chords and acoustic interludes.

"The time approaches. Fall. This is the voice of the voiceless, we have learned by making choices. After persecution and dilution, we have severed a solution - To build our foundation on natural elements to preserve life, we will rise, this babylon, fall." an epic speech tears into the first song 'Numbered Days'. Behind the words are tuning guitars and patient percussion all waiting to crash into life, with chugging rhythm leading the way. 'The ashes of the dead will be a sign, the time approaches' is an almighty cry from lead vocalist Jesse Leach, over vicious upstroke guitars until the chorus sheds light on the albums song structures, going for cleaner vocals. "Arms raised, eyes gaze. Tongues of fire whisper this life will soon slip away" is sang is such a pure manner even with the ferocious backing, a ray of light in a damned song. 'Self Revolution' starts in a similar way, this time wis a chunky bass interlude and sliding guitar scratches. Soaring chorus lines of "In this search for I & I. The truth is always deep inside" and "Rehearsal of oneself, finding the truth" beautifully echo and harmonize in preparation for an angrier song to come. The 3rd song 'Fixation on the Darkness' initially a snarling riff driven, pinch harmonic beast follows the path of the past songs with another melodic chorus. The lyrics are barely a paragraph but are ripe with angst fueled rage, demanding 'Its time for change'. The best technically and catchiest guitar work on the album.

Then comes one of my all time favourite songs - 'My Last Serenade' a superb offering of head bobbing brilliance, gut busting growls and the sweetest sounding chorus' ever known. The verses shine with powerful life changing lyrics, mentioning ignorance, self righteousness and serenity. The steady drum patterns and simplistic riff make it instantly memorable, besides the heavenly intro & outro, and builds up the chorus for a splendid sing along, deserving of being the single track that fired KsE to fame in the first place - as you can imagine, I recommend you hear this before considering the album. 'Life to Lifeless' however, sounds like the gates of hell have been opened and let loose screeching demons upon your soul with equally dark words - "Death unfolds itself painfully, to unmask how fragile we are/teacher of sanity". One of the few songs that is constantly down cast and perhaps a bit depressing and repetitious. The next song 'Just Barely Breathing' based on the albums title, takes its time until it kickstarts, with a dawdling beginning that sounds like a theme for a haunted house with ghostly tones and faint piano keys. When it does get going, the riff is a complex resurgence met by a long scream and double bass. It continues with horrid notes and an evil theme while the the title is desperately shouted in the chorus and broken down with a lethargic "The sky weeps tonight, out bodies washed away. I am waiting for you, deliverance. The sun falls through the clouds, hear my cry".

'To the Sons of Man' is a 2 minute short burst of energy that could possibly get away with being longer if calmed down a tad. Its here that the screaming defines the word demonic, so much so that its obviously an effect sparingly thrown in during "The flesh is temporary, the soul is eternal". Memories of 2000's self titled debut album flood back in 'Temple From The Within'. It was the lead track then and still packs a big punch here with a fantastic chorus that demands grooving along. Its packed with sharp chord progression, breakdowns, squealy pinches and of course the ever potent lyric, "You teach me to inscribe these words upon my heart". The 9th song 'Element of One' is in a similar vain to 'My Last Serenade' with a weepy acoustic introduction, sturdy verses and a melodic, holy chorus. The most 'pleasant' song on the album, one to hear should you be wanting a little taste of metal and screaming. The basic lyrics consist of "Breathe me in, I am forever. Deep within, I am eternal" sang in a mantra like way with pitch perfect delivery and acts as relief from all the hostile growling. The ending is particularly well done as the drums pick up the pace, doubling the tempo and demanding more from everyone else.

Some of the strongest lyrics I've heard are in 'Vide Infra' ('See Below') another track from KsE's debut effort. "No one is placed higher than another - no matter race or creed or gender. We must teach forgiveness and compassion for-all-life". Preachy? Perhaps, but its a positive message and one that all the radio friendly superstarts tend to ignore in their jingles about money, sex and drugs. Brisling with more upstrokes and vocal chord scraped singing, the lyrics are just stunning - "I am not afraid to speak my mind. No matter the consequences, stay true to yourself. Through the humble eyes of a child we will realize true equality. They cannot take me from me". I've never heard anything as passionate and honest as this. After such a brutal awakening of reality, an angelic instrumental acts as a moment of tranquility, as two acoustic guitars gently ring out notes and chords, while an electric riff delicately chimes in over the top. I recall my own mother strolling into my room and hearing this, debating why all the songs couldn't be like this.. Its barely 2 minutes of peace, the calm before the final storm.

"Rise Inside! Free your mind, raise your fist! To signify, we stand in defiance of hatred and deception!" the shaking guitars and weakened symbols play along in verses and afterwards, get to terminal velocity, drums guitars and bass all go incredibly fast and cut out for one last interlude which bursts into more resistance. It poetically ends the way it began, slowly closing out the song with more fat chords and loud symbols. Mind blown, neck and voice weakened by singing along and head-banging, the album comes to strong end, or at least it would do on the original. With the 2 disc anniversary edition, you get 2 songs that missed the final cut in 'Untitled & Unloved' - a cowboy like western instrumental, like 'Without a Name' just longer and sadder, then the quality track 'When the Balance is Broken'. This song really made my day as it hadn't been heard before and after 3 years, were well worth the wait, making this version feel fresh. It starts with long held notes then goes crazy with all the things that made the album work. "Through the loneliness, depression - this is not in vain. Through the tribulation, find redemption - this is not in vain" again the lyrics are empowering and sang with real spirit. A reworking of 'In The Unblind' was also apparently prepared for inclusion with this album but left over as 3 used songs may have been a too much. It still a blisteringly quick song that gallops throughout and the vocals are just as incredible as always, while the ending is even better with more substance and powerful vibes.

Also included on the 2nd disc are 3 demos of 'Numbered Days', 'Just Barely Breathing' and 'Transfiguration' (aka Fixation on the Darkness), all being supreme quality just unmastered. Unfortunately, a Howard Jones (singer for 2003-2012) version on 'Fixation on the Darkness' was thrown in.. I have nothing against the singer as he provided 3 albums with the band, 2 of which were decent, but since this is a classic KsE album, his voice is rather unnecessary and sounds rushed for inclusion. The conclusion track 'AOJB Studio Outtakes' is over a minute of silly messing about, with hilarious improvisation, mistakes and a japanese fish salesman song... Pop the disc in a video player and you'll find three music videos, for 'My Last Serenade', 'Fixation on the Darkness' and 'Life to Lifeless'. Inside the lyric booklet (filled with personal photographs on tour, on stage and on shoots) you'll find lyrics to every song, band member insight to the bonus tracks and interview exerts with the following topics:

Killswitch: From weekend warriors to Fulltime band
Cold feet and nervous talks: Signing to Roadrunner
The writing of 'Alive or Just Breathing'
The making of 'Alive or Just Breathing' (the music)
The making of 'Alive or Just Breathing' (the vocals)
World: Meet 'Alive or Just Breathing'
The first tour: Soilwork, Hypocrisy, and KSE
Exit: Jesse Leach
Enter: Howard Jones
The Killswitch phenomenon

In my opinion, this album is the best way to introduce yourself to the heavy metal genre, as its screams may put you off at first, the melodies will keep you listening long enough to eventually embrace the harder elements. Anyone who claims its 'just a bunch of shouting' doesn't know what they're talking about and is being extremely close minded, although I can understand the mindset for new listeners. Absolutely worth the listen as it can become a real favourite and open your ears to honest music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building a revolution to heal nations..., 1 Dec 2009
By 
Gentlegiantprog "Kingcrimsonprog" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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When you look back at 2002's Alive or Just Breathing it's difficult to believe just how well this seminal and genre defining album has aged. Even now the music is just so fresh and exciting, who can listen to the crushing `Self Revolution,' without judging it an absolute genre classic ? Great music, great vocals and great production, the song is absolutely huge in every way, from the battery of the kick drum patterns to the very heavy riffs then the emotional impact of the well thought out and interesting lyrics. The whole album is so clever, balancing between light and shade in a way that no other band even gets close to.
Chugging riffs, uplifting guitar harmonies, catchy choruses and heavy double kick drum filled verses have always been the Killswitch sound, but this album is heavier and harsher than the bands later work, with songs like `Just Barely Breathing,' and especially `To The Sons Of Man,' having a much more aggressive and brasher sound than you may be expecting . The music is so well written, thoughtful and just plain good that it's not hard to see why the band eventually became so successful. The production is also amazing, the guitar sound is gigantic and the kick drum beaters absolutely pound your speakers, which is especially impressive when you think that it was self produced, with current guitarist (then drummer) Adam D handling a lot of the responsibilities in the studio as well as musically.
Adam is responsible for touches of piano, the superb heavy hitting and kick pedal abusing drum performance as well as a number of guitar riffs that would hint at his future position. On top of all that you still get Adam D's excellent backing vocals which are so good they always become a real highlight of any Killswitch song.
Pete Cortese, Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroezel have a distinctive playing style which mixes Fear Factory influenced staccato rhythms with quick twin guitar harmonies in a very particular fashion that is laced with both melody and agression. The album contains a lot of the finest work Killswitch have ever done, which still grace Killswitch concerts to this day such as the singles `Fixation of Darkness' and `My Last Serenade.'
Standout tracks include the brilliant fan favourite `Life To Lifeless,' the unique and ever enjoyable opener `Numbered Days' and the previously mentioned ` Just Barely Breathing,' which remains to this day one of the heaviest songs in the Killswitch catalougue.
Alive or Just Breathing is a undeniably classic album, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It hasnt left my cd player for a month!, 4 Sep 2002
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Alive Or Just Breathing (Audio CD)
The last time I remember enjoying an album this much was Ride the Lightening in '84. It has everything, the songs twist and turn, awesome riffing, melodic choruses, fantastic songwriting, great musicianship....and I love this guys voice.....no bad songs either....and if uve heard the single 'My Serenade', what a great song, but personally I think ine of the weakest on the CD....so that should tell you just how great this CD is. I;ve just started buying CD's regularly after some time out, and have Tool, Ill Nino, Korn (ooppss!), SOAD, Linkin Park, Pantera, Maralyn Manson and a few others....and this beats everything hands down.... Ill Nino coming in a close 2nd
You will never, ever regret buying this album....Im off to get the first one
:o)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Essential Metal...That Is Far From Pretty, 9 Jun 2003
By 
S. Wright (Sheffield, England.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alive Or Just Breathing (Audio CD)
The world of Thrash and Metal have been waiting for something like this for a long time...
Killswitch Engage are, for once, a band that are everything they're cracked up to be. They display signs of the legendary, Slayer, Metallica, and incorporate it into their own black-metal sound, that strangely, your Sevendust loving little brother could enjoy...
The songs at first seem odd...quite a few are surging slabs of metal, which are not only neck breaking, but have a vocalist that, as I read it, ''spits lava'' and he does. It's that vicious. But what makes them more interesting, is that unlike their contemporaries, they do show signs of hope lyrically, such as ''fulfilling your destiny'' as such like. And it actually sounds refreshingly...fresh. Sure, it has that old school metal way about it, but there's a lot new to hear here. It's also interesting how when you think they couldn't get any more brutal, the chorus kicks in, and on many songs that means a melodic break, which enthralls you all the more. Big hit, ''My Last Serenade'' is the finest example of big, big riffs with a melody filled chorus.
So for old school metal there is still life in the old dog, and Killswitch Engage are it. They might not be convincing to look at, but they have Pantera's intensity, Slayer's huge riffs, and Metallica's sheer blood pumping exhileration. It's an essential purchase for any metal enthusiast, or for anyone who has a hole in their hard rock collection under 'H'. 'H' for Heavy as Hell.
5 Stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant, 15 Dec 2007
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This review is from: Alive Or Just Breathing (Audio CD)
I only recently started listening to Killswitch Engage when I saw them on Rockworld TV a few weeks ago. I saw Howard Jones belting out a live version of `The End of Heartache' (from the album of the same name) and thought that it was worth a closer listen.

Bought the album and liked all the tracks on it. Very impressed - but I could also understand why they weren't more widely know or more successful.

Anyway, I did like `The End of Heartache' and also bought `As Daylight Dies', which again is a good album. However, I was aware of the earlier work (and the previous front-man Jesse Leach) as I had read reviews by fellow fans on Amazon, with titles such as: `The death of Killswitch..."

After having listened to this album, I can only say that I whole heatedly agree with that assessment.

This album is so much more emotive, angry, brutal and engaging than the latest offerings. There are some true classics tracks contained on this CD, whereas I think the only classic on `The End of Heartache' is the track with the same name.

This is without doubt a `must have' in anyone's metal collection.

The differences between `Alive or just Breathing' and `The End of Heartache' are quite stark when you listen to them back-to-back.
`The End of Heartache' is more guitar rift driven than `Alive or just Breathing', and it is done in such a way that the rifts are the main focal point of the music and the drumming/beat are inconsequential. This gives the whole album a very `tame' feeling, despite Howard Jones' brilliant vocal work.
(Side Note: I was listening to `The End of Heartache' and my girlfriend commented "... isn't that a bit commercial?" - which says it all. Normally her ears bleed if I ever play anything `un-commercial'!!).

In contrast, `Alive or just Breathing' has much more dominant drumming, the vocals are more screaming than signing, and the rifts less dominant - which gives the album a rawer, harder - brutal feel to it.
I tend to nod my head listening to `Alive or just Breathing' much more than I would to `The End of Heartache'.

I can't even count the number of times I have listened to this album since I bought it (about a week ago). I am, at the moment, listening to it repeatedly (whilst trying to fix my bloody IPod) and it just gets better and better.

If you are a fan of metal, buy this album and enjoy every minute of it.
Albums like this don't come up very often.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars legendary, 7 Mar 2007
By 
Hedon (Eternal Night) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alive Or Just Breathing (Audio CD)
Dear me. I got their self titled debut before this and really loved it, but nothing could have prepared me for this. Quite possibly one of the best metal/metalcore releases ever. seriously, believe the hype this album is not over rated!

A synthesis of the melody and technicality of euro-metal with the crunch of classic american thrash and a smattering of harcore and death. This album has a real sense of groove too. Killswitch prooved on this album that you can combine real brutality and melody without softening the music, just as Fear Factory did for the previous generation. And when you remember that A) this came out when nu-metal was at its peak and B) this album still stands head and shoulders above most of their peers you can't help but call this album a classic.

while everyone goes on about the popular singles such as 'my last serenade' or fixation on the darkness' this cd has some real gems in the often over-looked greats like brutal opener 'numbered days' or the incrediable 'self revolution' or the At the Gates style 'to the sons of man' . And old favourties 'temple from within' and 'vida infra' (which needs to be heard) make welcome returns. Jesse's screams and roars are as inhumanly abrasive as ever, while his sung vocals have improved alot since the first album. And his lyrics, as always are very spiritual, uplifting and insightful. Easily a contender for best metal vocalist

its only now five years on that we can really appreciate the tremendous influence this album had. the downside is that i often feel a bit sad listening to it as it all seemed to go downhill for the band after this.
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