On Sunday evening, March 6th, a couple of thousand metal fans poured into the Fillmore in Minneapolis to watch the epic tour featuring some of the finest of the genre: Killswitch Engage, August Burns Red, and Light the Torch. The tour was supposed to happen a couple of years ago, but unfortunately, the pandemic caused the bands to postpone. It was worth the wait though- it was an incredible evening. For several hours, everyone in the venue forgot all about the issues that divide us and bonded over our common love of heavy music.
The first act to open the night was Light the Torch (Howard Jones- vocals, Ryan Wombacher-bass, Alex Rudinger-drums, Francesco Artusato- guitar). With such intensity, this Los Angeles-based band started playing “More Than Dreaming,” from their latest album “You Will Be The Death Of Me.” The popular frontman hyped up the crowd as he screamed out the lyrics to “Calm Before the Storm” and “Let Me Fall Apart.”
Light the Torch, formerly called Devil You Know, has been a band for a decade now, but only played from their albums that were recorded under their current name. From 2018’s “Revival,” they played “The Bitter End,” and “The Safety of Disbelief.” From their latest album, they played Living With a Ghost,” Become the Martyr,” and “Wilting in the Light.” To close their set, Howard and company performed their first single, “Die Alone.” If you’ve never seen Light the Torch before, you need to. Howard is a beast- jumping and running around on stage. The band is sounding great on their albums, but it is a total experience to see them live.
Next on the stage was the metalcore kings, August Burns Red (Jake Luhrs- vocals, JB Brubaker-guitar, Brent Rambler- guitarist, Dustin Davidson- bass, and Matt Greiner-drums). This quintet might be one of the most underrated metal bands of the last two decades. They have wowed the masses with their extensive touring and incredible live performances. The band opened their set with the heavy hit, “The Truth of a Liar,” and continued with “Meddler.” Two years ago, the band released their ninth studio album, “Guardians.” Since they weren’t able to tour in 2020, it was nice to finally hear some of the songs from that album- “Paramount,” “Defender,” and their heaviest song, “Bloodletter.”
The band also played “Provision” and “Invisible Enemy” and the crowd continued to roar. August Burns Red has been known to do songs that would never typically be done by metal bands- Christmas albums and shows, cover songs outside of their genre, and covers of video game themes- and that’s exactly what they did Sunday night. Every gamer in the room immediately recognized The Legend of Zelda theme song and erupted in cheer. Unfortunately, the band had to limit their setlist to eleven songs, but they finished strong with “Composure” and their incredibly popular hit “White Washed.”
Everyone waited for the headliner to take the stage, and it was worth the wait. A recording of “Jump Around” played and the metalcore giants, Killswitch Engage (Jesse Leach-vocals, Mike D’Antonio- bass, Adam Dutkiewicz- lead guitar/backing vocals, Joel Stroetzel- rhythm guitar/backing vocals, Justin Foley- drums) took the stage opening with their ferocious hit, “The Crownless King.”
Killswitch Engage has now been a band for over two decades and to date, has released twenty-four singles. I was pleasantly surprised that they played such a diverse setlist!. They played “My Last Serenade” and “Rise Inside” from their 2002 album, “Alive or Just Breathing,” “This Fire” from 2006’s “As Daylight Dies,” and “In Due Time” and “Always” from their 2013 album “Disarm the Descent.” The oldest fans went absolutely berserk when this Massachusetts quintet busted out “In the Unblind” from their original self-titled album. Some of the newer fans didn’t latch on to the nostalgia, but got back into the show when they played “Strength of the Mind” from their popular album “Incarnate.”
As the night was coming to a close, Leach left to go “enjoy some tequilas,” and let his beloved friend, (and the band’s past frontman) Howard Jones take over on vocal duties! Howard brought the crowd back to 2004 and ripped through “Rose of Sharyn.” Jesse emerged from backstage and joined Howard on “The End of Heartache.” I’m not sure who was louder- Jones and Leach or the entire theater singing along. To finish in the most epic way possible, Leach and Jones closed the night screaming “The Signal Fire” together. It was truly a stunning night.