Released: January 18, 2011
Killswitch Engage fans have grand expectations of greatness from Times of Grace. The project is the child of former KsE frontman Jesse Leach and current KsE guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz. But that is where any comparison or expectation should end. Times of Grace is it’s own entity in sound and style.
Adam wrote the majority of the material on the album while hospitalized, healing from emergency back surgery. When he got home he demoed the songs, but clearly felt they were not Killswitch Engage material. There was a different, more personal feel to the songs. So Adam reached out to Jesse about doing the project together, and that’s exactly who is on this record. Jesse sings, and Adam does everything else, including production of the album. From the beginning their connection was symbiotic, and the energy and cohesion carries through the record.
The album has the requisite heaviness you might have expected, but significantly more melody. The lyrical themes are wrapped around overcoming pain, surviving, hope, and living in the moment. This is perhaps the deepest either has dug emotionally on an album.
The Hymn of a Broken Man is loaded with jackhammer drumming, brutal yet delicious fretwork, crisp production, and incredible vocal arrangements, both clean and harsh. Adam’s guitar work is tight and engaging, while his drumming is solid and fitting. His bass work is a bit wanting, and I would have liked to have seen these guys bring in others to help bring the overall musicianship to the same level as the songwriting. It’s hard to be the master of so many elements without losing some of your edge. Never-the-less, Adam does a more than adequate job in all departments.
The album opens with “Strength In Numbers,” which the band has already released a video for. Rather than describe, listen for yourselves…
The albums second track, “Fight For Life,” is a dark and moody song, that feels like the musical equivalent of poet Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight.” There is a pleading in Leach’s delivery that screams “rage against the dying of the light.”
“Willing” draws you in and digs at your soul. We have all been where these guys have been, and we can relate to what they are singing about, and the music is the perfect compliment to their message.
“Where The Spirit Leads Me,” ratchets up the grinding riffage again, with growling vocals from Leach, overlaid on top of Adam’s D’s clean background vox. Their two voices blend quite well. The duo have made a video for this one as well.
The melancholy “Until The End of Days,” is an emotional bleeder that feels raw and angry, while “Live In Love” pumps out with an almost power metal guitar riff, providing some of Adam’s tastiest guitar work. The signature changes pull the song back to their metalcore base.
“In The Arms of Mercy” is a sweet and moving instrumental which sets up and paves the way for the face-ripping title track.
In all, the album is a fantastic blend of rage, angst, and hope. The Hymn of a Broken Man provides a debut of high quality melodic metalcore. While they are not doing anything overly original, what they give is a pleasurable and lasting listening experience that’ll you’ll return to frequently. One can only hope this is the stepping stone to more from these guys.
If there is a draw back to this record it is that many of the songs tend to blend together in style, with few breaks in between to set them apart.
Stand out tracks include: the title track, Fight For Life, Willing, Live In Love, The End of Eternity and Fall From Grace.