Mandatory Metal: 5 Essential Killswitch Engage Songs

Killswitch Engage's Jesse Leach, 2018; photo by Avalon/PYMCA/Gonzales Photo/Terje Dokken/UIG via Getty Images

Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Killswitch Engage, those New England metalcore pioneers with their Swedish melodic death-metal riffs and hooky yet heavy good cop/bad cop vocals. Back with original singer Jesse Leach, who rejoined the fold in 2012, KsE are gearing up to release their highly anticipated eighth album, so we’re highlighting some choice cuts from across their catalog, both with Leach and his longtime frontman Howard Jones. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page.

“MY LAST SERENADE”
ALBUM: ALIVE OR JUST BREATHING

Arguably Killswitch Engage’s most famous song, “My Last Serenade” virtually defines a generation of metalcore.
Sample lyrics: “Your destination is a choice within yourself/Will you rise or become a slave/To self righteousness/Open up your heart and gaze within.”

“ROSE OF SHARYN”
ALBUM: THE END OF HEARTACHE

Howard Jones proved his place in Killswitch with his first album with the group, The End of Heartache, care of dynamic cuts like this inspirational eulogy, which puts his vocal range on full display.
Sample lyrics: “Numb/We’re broken/Here I stand alone.”

“MY CURSE”
ALBUM: AS DAYLIGHT DIES

One of Killswitch’s most popular songs, this Jones-sung cut may reflect on grief and loss, but it sounds positively triumphant.
Sample lyrics: “This is my curse, time/This is my curse, the yearning.”

“HATE BY DESIGN”
ALBUM: INCARNATE

On this ferocious song off Incarnate, Leach’s second comeback album with Killswitch, the singer calls for fans to unite against racism — or should we say, he commands it.
Sample lyrics: “A reason why, a state of mind/There’s a disconnection/A judgement made/Fueled by hate, it’s your mistake/It’s a choice you made/It’s tearing us apart.”

“THE END OF HEARTACHE”
ALBUM: THE END OF HEARTACHE

This Grammy-nominated cut — which appeared on the soundtrack to 2004’s Resident Evil: Apocalypse — may have marked Killswitch’s big commercial breakthrough, but between Jones’ emotive croons and the band’s vicious riffwork, there’s nothing watered down or compromised about it.
Sample lyrics: “Surrender I give in/Another moment is another eternity.”