"I wanted to write some more aggressive songs..." Killswitch Engage's Adam Dutkiewicz opens up about making new LP Atonement
When Massachusetts metalcore Killswitch Engage announced in 2012 that they had parted ways with singer Howard Jones and would be welcoming back Jesse Leach, their original vocalist, it would have seemed pretty unlikely that you'd ever find the two singers sharing a track.
But now, seven years later, that's exactly what has happened.
Jones is one of two guests on the band's new album Atonement, their eighth, with the other being Testament vocalist Chuck Billy.
The LP is the follow-up to 2016's Incarnate and sees the band streamlining their sound into something leaner and much, much angrier.
With the new album out in stores today (August 16th), we spoke to guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz about how it came together...
Did you have an idea of what direction you wanted to take after Incarnate? Were there things you wanted to do differently?
"I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but for myself, I wanted to write some more aggressive songs for the newest record. I feel like it’s easy for us to get into the mode of writing mid-tempo heavy songs, so I wanted to try and push some more thrash into our record."
You’ve recorded ‘The Signal Fire’ with your former vocalist Howard Jones, how was that experience?
"It was easy. I remained friends with Howard after he left the band, so it was not such a strange thing. Once Jesse got to know Howard better, he actually suggested that he do a guest vocal spot on the new record. I think it’s a good message to show fans that there are no hard feelings and no dramas with this band."
There’s a track with Chuck Billy too, what was he like to work with?
"I think Chuck is one of the best metal singers out there, so it was a huge honour for us to have him on the record. We asked him if he’d want to do a guest spot, he said yes, then he tracked his parts on his own. I think they sound great."
You self-produced the album again, were you ever tempted to bring in an outside voice? Or is there just no need?
"We like having control of our own music. But personally, I got burnt out on the record after working on it for about two years since I had the most to do with it. I felt it was a good idea to bring in someone else to mix the record to get a fresh perspective on it, which is why we got Andy Sneap to do it."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"There are lots of different topics all over the record, ranging from dealing with personal issues, to issues within society and relationships."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"'The Crownless King' took the longest vocally. I felt Jesse’s initial lyric ideas really weren’t good enough, so I had him re-write the song a few times. Once we got a good idea together, I then had to wait for Chuck Billy to find time to track his parts."
And which came together most quickly? How come?
"Seeing how we live so far away from each other, nothing really came together quickly, but we had a much easier time with a few of them. Jesse’s initial ideas for 'Unleashed', 'Us Against The World', 'I Am Broken Too' and 'I Can't Be The Only One' came together a bit easier than the others, as did the music."
When did you decide on Atonement for the album title and why that? Were any other titles in contention?
"The original title was 'Fire Of The Lions Mane', but a few of us thought it was a bit wordy. We decided on Atonement because we felt the word represented all of the songs well, seeing how they are mostly about coming to terms with something within your life."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"We plan on hitting Europe in October and November of this year, then the US next year. The UK shows are October 14th - 20th. Excited to play some new stuff, mostly because I’m so sick of playing the old stuff!"
You’ve got eight records now, how will you decide what makes it into your live set?
"We always try to play a set that will make everyone happy. We stick with a lot of our most popular tunes because, let’s face it, with eight records, they’re not all winners..."
What can we expect when we see you back in the UK?
"A bunch of drunk Americans playing new music, along with some old music I assume!"
Killswitch Engage's new album Atonement is out now in hmv stores.