A few years ago I discovered Killswitch Engage. I think it was some time in mid-2007. Of course I had heard of them well before then, but it wasn’t until 2007 that I made the effort to listen to them. By that time original frontman Jesse Leach had been out of the picture for a good five years and former Blood Has Been Shed singer Howard Jones had recorded The End Of heartache and As Daylight Dies with them and had solidified himself within the bands’ sound.
Although my favorite album from the band is their second album, Alive or Just Breathing, I always thought that Howard Jones brought a bigger sound to their music with his much more powerful vocals in the next two albums. The [second] self-titled album in 2009 felt very weak in my opinion and didn’t bring much to the table that made me want to listen to it often, if not at all. I found it incredibly forgettable. In early 2010 we saw some drama that announced that HoJo would not be able to tour with the band due to some personal reason and fellow Masshole metalcore singer Phil Labonte of All That Remains fame would be filling in for him on very short notice. We also saw some guest appearances from former frontman Jesse Leach, which was well received by long time fans.
2011 saw the release of Times Of Grace’ debut album Hymns Of A Broken Man. This was a collaboration between Jesse Leach and current KsE guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz that also included KsE’s Joel Stroetzel on guitars, Matt Bachand of Shadows Fall on Bass and Dan Gluszak of defunct Long Island band, Envy On The Coast. This project sounded like the early Killswitch Engage mainly due to Dutkiewicz’ signature sound and Leach’s vocals. I really enjoyed this album and it even made my Top 10 of 2011.
Now, fast Forward to today. Today Killswitch announced that Howard Jones was no longer with the band. Choosing not to add to the drama from 2 years ago, the band released a statement simply saying that they have decided to go on without HoJo and did no give specific reasoning for his departure. You can read the official statement below. There is no news or rumors of who will be filling HoJo’s shoes, but Phil Labonte has already announced via his Facebook that he will not be taking on the task. Why would he? He already has his own very successful band in ATR and frankly, I don’t think he quite fits the part. it would simply sound like KsE featuring Phil Labonte.
Of course every KsE fan of old and new is screaming “Bring Jesse back”, so we will have to wait and see if that happens. I can only think that it would be the right idea if Leach was willing to return, but I’m not holding my breath. Jesse has is own things going on and he may not be willing to commit to a full time gig with his former band. So, if you are a KsE fan of old, then cross your fingers and hope for the best. Farewell, Howard Jones…
“To our family, friends and fans: We have decided to continue on without Howard Jones as the singer of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. We love Howard and are thankful for the nine years that we’ve had him in the band. Out of respect for everyone involved, we will not be discussing the specific reasons behind this decision. Howard is a part of our family and always will be, and we wish him well. He has left big shoes to fill, so we certainly have our work cut out for us to find the next singer of KILLSWITCH, something we plan on making priority #1 going forward. Most importantly, thanks to all of you for all the support throughout the years and for sticking by us for all this time. We really do appreciate it and we very much look forward to having a new record for all of you in the not too distant future that we can all be proud of.”