JOEL STROETZEL Says There Are' A Lot Of Fast Songs' On Upcoming KILLSWITCH ENGAGE Album

March 2, 2024

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE guitarist Joel Stroetzel spoke to Mathias Henrixon of A Swedish Fika With… about the progress of the recording sessions for the follow-up to 2019's "Atonement" album. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We just finished all the final bits of tracking over the last couple of weeks. So the guitars are done, all the vocals are now done. Everything's there. So Adam's [Dutkiewicz, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE guitarist and producer] just kind of piecing things together. So, if there needs to be any edits, he's gonna do those. And then we'll just figure out if he wants to mix it or if we wanna send it off to some fresh ears. We haven't decided. But everything sounds good so far, I think — at least we think. We hope."

Joel went on to say that he and his KILLSWITCH ENGAGE bandmates recorded "too many" songs for the new LP. "[It's a] good problem to have," he added. "That'll be the tricky part, is once they're all mixed, we'll have to decide what's gonna be on the record and what we can maybe save or B-sides or special things. We'll figure that out. At least it's done being recorded. That's the big thing for us."

Asked about KILLSWITCH ENGAGE frontman Jesse Leach's recent comment that the band's upcoming LP has been the most difficult KILLSWITCH album for the singer to make, Joel said: "Yeah. He came back and retracked a lot of stuff because he had… Over the past few years, he's kind of trained his voice to do the fry technique live, which, it's been great. It's been kind of a godsend for him live, because he never blows his voice out anymore. But I think him and Adam were finding when he was tracking, using that technique, he wasn't getting all the different growls and things he used to get. So, he decided to go back and kind of revisit things, maybe swallow some glass and go for it. [Laughs] He's been doing great."

Stroetzel continued: "So we're all really excited about it. They went back and kind of retracked a few things here and there, just to beef it up. And things are sounding really good — at least we hope so. Hopefully people like it when it comes out… I think it's good. I think it could potentially be a strong record. At least we hope. Yeah. All we can do is do the best we can and hope that other people like it. Step one, I guess — make sure we like it [laughs] and hope that other people like it. We'll see what happens."

Regarding the musical direction of the new KILLSWITCH material, Joel said: "It definitely sounds like a KILLSWITCH record. I think a lot of the songs are on the heavier side. A lot of fast songs. There's still all the melody and stuff that we normally do, but there's a lot of aggressive stuff on this one."

Last month, Leach wrote in an online post about KILLSWITCH's upcoming LP: "This album has been a great challenge for me. Now that it's almost complete I can say I wouldn't change a thing! All the trials, difficulties and deep anxieties were all worth what this record is shaping up to be.

"I don't ever half ass anything in my creative life. I can say this with the utmost confidence, I gave this my everything and it will show.

"I've said it before and I'll say it until the day I die, Adam D is my musical soulmate and a FORCE in my life as an artist, writer and musician," he continued. "His role in my growth as a writer can't be overstated. The man just knows how to get that performance out of me. I just don't think I'll ever have the synergy with anyone else in my life as a musician.

"Also the lessons, insights and support of [renowned vocal coach Melissa Cross] saved me and continue to guide me. I've learned new techniques (fry) that I use here and there but more importantly I've been able to really rediscovered my original style (false chord) on a whole other level because of her. The blend and the knowledge of the over all inner workings of the voice have empowered me to do things I didn't think I could still do. I've also really learned to sing with more ease and confidence and it's been super liberating to me. Pure POWER, grit, intensity and smooth big Melodie's are the result of all of it. I pulled out all of my arsenal of vocal weapons and left it all on this recording. Even if people don't like or naysay what we've done I could die happy knowing I gave this shit my ALL.

"I feel a true sense of satisfaction," Jesse added. "I stood my ground when I needed to and I acquiesced and changed when it was needed. The end result is the culmination of 2 years of hardcore work."

In January, Leach wrote in an Instagram post that the upcoming KILLSWITCH ENGAGE record had "taken its toll" on him. "It is by far the most difficult album I've ever worked on for various reasons," he said. "That being said as I see the distant light at the end of this long tunnel. I can truly say it has all been a much needed growing experience. When I say that I mean it personally, lyrically and vocally. I've been able to take any criticism from my dudes and separate it from my being to push through and rise to the occasion.

"This has been a work in progress as everything I write is always deeply personal and for the most part difficult to write," he continued. "It's always hard to let go of my work. I'm very pleased I've learned to separate my emotions from the work. It's been liberating! I've also been able to stretch the limits of my voice mixing techniques and hues of sound (still working on this as a full time student of the voice via @zenofscreaming).

"Lastly, lyrically I've crafted some songs to feel more like a story, which I believe makes the material more interesting," he added. "Adam has helped a great deal as usual being a great producer and a good friend throughout. Talking me off the cliff and making me laugh when need be. It can't be overstated how crucial he is (even when I can get thrown sideways at times). He always sees the bigger picture and pushes me to my limit for better or worse. The outcome however is always far better than I imagined."

"Atonement" was released in August 2019 via Metal Blade Records in the U.S. and Sony Music Entertainment in the rest of the world. The disc featured guest appearances by former KILLSWITCH ENGAGE singer Howard Jones and TESTAMENT frontman Chuck Billy. It marked the band's third full-length release since the return of Leach, who rejoined the group in 2012.

In July 2021, Leach and Dutkiewicz released the second album from their TIMES OF GRACE project, "Songs Of Loss And Separation", via the band's own imprint label, Wicked Good Records, distributed by ADA Worldwide.

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