In the fishwrap this week, James Parker resurrects the legacy of Only Living Witness, the band that Shadows Fall, Converge, and Killswitch Engage credit with having sparked Massachusetts' now-burgeoning metalcore economy. Century Media is now reissuing the OLW back catalogue, Shadows Fall big-up the band with a cover on their new Fallout from the War, and OLW singer Jonah J. Jenkins is now in-demand again, as a new generation of kids like 36 Crazyfists re-discover the Witness catalogue. It's awesome to see Jonah finally getting the recognition he deserves: We got to know him just as Witness was breaking up, and we've been big fans of his ensuing bands -- first with Miltown, his brush with pop, then his about-face back to vintage SST-style hardcore with Milligram and now Raw Radar War. He'll also appear on the upcoming Converge album No Heroes, singing lyrics written by Jake Bannon on a track called "Grim Heart/Black Rose."
Listening back now to Only Living Witness's Prone Metal Form, we realize with new clarity what attracted us to them in the first place: the title track did a damn fine job of adapting to metal's new post-Black Album economy, while "Twitching Tongues" quoted from mid-'80s thrash (it's easier now to hear how much the riff of that song was indebted to Megadeth's "Wake Up Dead"). The undisputed jewel in their crown, though, is "December" -- which is, not coincidentally, the track that Shadows Fall chose to cover. "Just — dude! It’s such a sick, heavy riff!" says SF's Brian Fair. "What a way to end an album . . . it’s got that very evil vibe, but the vocals are so powerful and melodic. Plus Killswitch Engage always soundchecks with 'Prone Mortal Form' — Joel does his line check with that every single time. So we had to choose another one."
DOWNLOAD: Only Living Witness, "December" (mp3)DOWNLOAD: Shadows Fall, "December" (mp3)