2016: The Year in Charts

Exclusive Premiere: Brothers Born's 'Knife Wounds'

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Brothers Born

Killswitch Engage's Joel Stroetzel and Storm the Ohio's Michael Wyzik to release debut album on Feb. 24.

Killswitch Engage fans who are used to seeing guitarist Joel Stroetzel tear through ferocious chords on songs like "In Due Time" and "Starting Over" may expect his new side project, Brothers Born, to sound the same way -- especially if they go by the title of its debut album, Knife Wounds (Feb. 24, Nine Mile Records). But that would be way off base: His album with fellow six-stringer Michael Wyzik of Storm the Ohio is, in Stroetzel's words, "folk/indie rock with a bit of an '80s twist." 

He's not kidding. If you slipped in tracks from Knife Wounds alongside the likes of The Lumineers or Bon Iver on a playlist, you'd never suspect that half of the duo spends much of his time playing very aggro fare. But while the album is decidedly quieter than Killswitch Engage's metalcore output, it's no less compelling. Listen to an exclusive premiere of their album's title track below.

"Brothers Born is very different that anything either of us have done in the past," acknowledges Stroetzel in an email to Billboard. "Our influences come from very different places but all seem to land on common ground. Writing and recording songs together just feels natural and fun. We get really psyched about it and are constantly demoing new ideas." 

Stroetzel cites a number of acts that influenced the writing and recording Knife Wounds, calling it "kind of an interesting mix, really: The Sheila Divine and Dear Leader, Ryan Adams, Tom Waits, Greg Brown, Nick Cave. Also bands like The Waterboys, The Church, Blue Nile and Prefab Sprout."

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The title track shows that the album's lyrical content is similar to KsE's sphere, though: enormous conflict, passionate declarations and bursting emotions.

"Knife Wounds came about during a time when Mike, myself and a number of our friends were all sort of going through some tough times, be it relationships, job issues, health issues," writes Stroetzel. "I know Mike drew from a lot of these themes when writing the lyrics for the song. It's ultimately about owning the decisions we make, and perseverance in the hardest of times."