Late Monday night, Killswitch Engage took fans by surprised when a photo of them posing with a familiar face appeared on their website. The picture seemed to confirm that after much speculation following Howard Jones’ departure, Killswitch Engage have indeed reunited with former singer Jesse Leach. And now, for those who were hesitant to rely on only an image, the band and Leach have released a statement confirming the news.

Killswitch Engage had the following to say about Leach’s return to the lineup:

“After much deliberation and careful consideration, we are pleased to announce that Jesse Leach has rejoined Killswitch Engage. Our job was to find the best person to fill Howard’s shoes: a decision based on talent and not familiarity. Truth be told, Jesse blew us away in auditions. The room seemed charged with electricity. He commanded both new and old material, and proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he wanted to do this. The choice became very clear and apparent.

This change is very exciting. We know you’re going to love it. This is truly a new era in Killswitch Engage history and it is ready to shred your face off. So, please help us in welcoming Jesse back into the Killswitch Engage family; he is a rare and great talent, a fact that older Killswitch Engage fans have known for years. Here is to a killer new record and a bright future. The five of us cannot wait to write this record and play shows together and bring that feeling to our fans. It’s been far too long.”

Leach shared a similar excitement via his own statement:

“It is a great honor to rejoin my brothers after all of these years. After some discussion and much reflection, it was obvious to me this was the path I was meant to take. We got together and jammed on the ‘Howard-era songs,’ as well as some Alive Or Just Breathing-era songs and we all felt the synergy.

I look forward to writing the new record, since the demos sound absolutely amazing, as well as breathing new life and getting comfortable with the soulful songs Howard has written. It is a new chapter of my life filled with new and exciting challenges. I will give all that I can to honor the position I have been given and take nothing for granted. I will sing every note with all of my soul. I am very blessed and very thankful to be back in the Killswitch Engage family! All things happen in their due time and now is the time for this reunion and new direction.”

It’s a little surprising to hear that Leach actually auditioned for his old role, especially since he was the most obviously choice for replacing Jones in many fans’ eyes. However, it’s pretty cool to hear that he’ll be singing material the band recorded with him and after his departure in 2002. It’ll definitely be interesting to hear his take on Jones-era songs, as well as the new music they’re currently working on.

Technically, the Alive Or Just Breathing-era lineup first reunited for a few encore sets during KSE’s 2010 tour. However, the band’s first performance since Leach’s official return (and since Jones’ departure) is still slated to take place at this year’s New England Metal & Hardcore Festival. In case you plan to be outside of the country this Summer, you can check out a rundown of European festivals the band will be playing after the jump.

6/1-6/3 Rock Am Ring/Rock Im Park

6/8 Nickelsdorf, Austria @ Pannonia Fields II (Nova Rock)

6/15 Copenhagen, Denmark (Copenhell)

6/16 Gothenburg, Sweden (Metaltown)

6/22 Milan, Italy @ Arena Fiera Milano (Gods Of Metal)

6/24 Dessel, Belgium @ Festival Park ‘Stenehel’ (Grasspop)