Review Summary: Two men that contributed into making one of the most memorable metal core albums ever come back 8 years later with memorable old and fresh new tricksI
t should be no surprise to anyone on this website what has been brewing behind the brain child of Adam Dutkiewics. Some of the biggest news in 2010 was what seemed to be the announcement of Times of Grace highly anticipated debut album. I am one who personally always preferred Howard Jones to Jesse Leach in the Killswitch Engage endless vocalist debate but I always loved Jesse Leach for what he contributed with in “Alive or Just Breathing”. Jesse Leach is back (with a beard) with Adam D. (no beard I think) to provide what is known as “The Hymn of a Broken Man”. For many fans they will accept this album as gold with abundance of bias. While “The Hymn of a Broken Man” provides a lot of redeeming qualities to why fans love Killswitch Engage it is more than apparent that this band isn’t just a reunion by the two Killswitch Engage accomplices. Jesse Leach comes back into the spotlight with the obvious sign to the listener that he has not lost a step in stride. As his voice will be familiar to his KSE fans it also possesses more soul, more feeling, and quality rawness to his repertoire. Adam D brings to the table a lot of trademark tones and riffs that could be called out on the “next” Killswitch Engage album but also incorporates a lot more progressive work than ever before in his career. Call it a more melodic side of things which definitely experiments into an artful substance but only takes a few small steps instead of one giant jump. Still with this being said it would be an injustice to compare or expect this album to being “Alive or Just Breathing part 2”.
The Hymn of a Broken Man
The album starts off with Strength In Numbers
which was a single that was released months ago along with a video. This song fades in with the sound of marching of what seems like an army and plays appropriate to the song title. Throughout the whole song I found the vibe of it to be pressing on the Killswitch Engage train. Quite a catchy chorus is exhibited no matter how simple the lyrics may seem. The screaming and clean vocals are very reminiscent of the older style that Jesse Leach had while in Killswitch Engage and will prove to be a treat to those who were looking for that. During the chorus the double bass drumming follows the introducing song marching and creates a sense of solid execution within the song as a whole. This song has been heard by many and might have a stale feeling existing on the album that was released a week ago (because it’s been floating around for months) but… Fight For Life
is a real treat. It’s one of my favorite songs off of the album as it takes the best of Killswitch Engage’s signature sound and expands upon it.
During the verses Jesse Leach just blows away the listener with the monstrous impact he carries in his voice. The dark introduction of feedback swelling and fuzz distorted bass really creates a sense of mood through the whole song which really opens up through the vocal performance given. During this song it’s more than apparent that you should approach Adam D when it comes to guitar tones as he seems to make subtle differences to create and accompany a song pretty much perfectly.
comes in with a more melodic and open guitar introduction and quickly spirals into a fast attacking guitar lead with double bass implemented as hooks. Harmonizing and vocalizations really sweep through this song by the chorus and leading verses and the overall feeling is concrete. As it still wholly follows the song construction of many KSE songs it exhibits a lot of differences and feels like a breath of fresh air with Jesse’s unique tones. With all of this being said you can still find flaws especially when they advertised how this wasn’t going to be just another KSE album. For one you get the anticipation that a song is going to take a huge twist and go totally experimental but instead only dips its foot cautiously into the water. With Where The Spirit Leads Me
the album continues on a similar pace as the first three tracks. It comes with a build up but I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. Every build up, breakdown, and climax during these songs feel sincere and meant to be. By now Jesse Leach’s trademark dissonant vocals that feel like a spoken spirit within pre-choruses will either accommodate the listener or bother his ears. As much as it’s been a trademark in his repertoire I can’t also help to feel that it makes me forget what I’m listening too and wondering if I turned on some nu-metal by accident. For me this feeling quickly subsides because the formulated strain and power in his voice during a lot of chorus’s just feels extremely epic.
It’s raw but not as raw in his older days but definitely has more soul in his pronunciations and style. For me this can be the difference maker in what’s average and uninspired to something that’s great yet simple.
Until The End Of Days
is the first track that really slows up its pace and makes a timely build up which ultimately works in the albums favor. A lot of previous songs were caution in experimenting too far outside the spectrum and this song takes a step closer to what seems like the goal of the creation in this album. I feel that the guitar tone with its harmonics and delay paints a picture of a winter setting which is perfect for the weather that is occurring right now. Adam D takes his vocals in the introduction verse and he comes with no surprises. It’s exactly what he’s been doing for all of these years now and as it might seem refined they really aren’t my cup of tea in all situations. I say that his vocal prowess is refined but he would probably be the first to admit that it is perfect. It’s almost as if it seems that he tries to hard but it overall isn’t a factor to distract by the atmosphere. Where this song really flourishes is with Jesse Leaches screamed vocals that come in through the soft introduction and build up in the duration. It’s very Underoath like and I love it. With the instrumentation and tremolo picked octaves running behind the screamed voice- just sounds enormous.It’s obvious that if they were going to as soft and melodic to as crushing and hard that it creates a parallel image and just fits so well.
It would only be fitting for Adam D. to contribute to the mutual vocalization that is exhibited in this song since both vocalists’ voices are so different and unique.
Live In Love
returns to the hard hitting pace with little lead in to build up. This song for me is weird in the sense that I can’t help but to think of Howard Jones. It’s the first time I ever felt that his style and voice would have been a better suit in this song but this song just has a post Jesse Leach Killswitch Engage feel to it from the instrumentation to the harmonies. Consider this the secret gift that could’ve been if he never left the band in the first place and for this it’s overall not a bad thing. With that being said though I do feel like that the song is one of the more mediocre one’s on album recording but will probably be a great live song to hear and appreciate. In the Arms of Mercy
is the unsung hero of this album. It’s an instrumental track that spans 1 minute and 45 seconds and might be considered a filler but the instrumentation is just breathe taking. This is where they could’ve looked at each other in the studio and figured they needed a filler track or this could’ve been planned all along to capture the atmosphere and beauty that this album truly has. The song starts off with what seems like an old record or scratchy tape recording and spans out into a beautiful soundstage with piano and acoustic instruments. When the song takes mold it sounds crystal clear as if the band is playing right in front of you in your basement. I’m not going to say it has the most elaborate or complex chord progressions or keys but I also wouldn’t be writing so much about an instrumental track if it didn’t mesh and mold into something astonishingly beautiful.
It would only be fitting that the title track is the best on the album. In my eyes it’s also the track that should be presented to your friends, family, and gerbil if they are unsure about venturing into Times Of Grace and somehow have been living under a rock and don’t know any Killswitch Engage. It exhibits a great summary of all of the things you’ll ultimately find in this album and band’s sound. Adam D’s imperfect voice, Jesse Leach’s epic one, moments of raw aggression, and mesmerizing melodies. How a song could be so soft and slow and speed up in such a short transitions really makes me proud to be a musician and admire the work of others. Moments where it seems like the clean guitar chords will just unwind into a generic soft interlude turn into raw distorted fast paced palm muted with thunderous double bass. I’m not talking about the random triggered double bass that death metal bands do for the sake of being death metal but appropriate and intelligent spots for the listener to really feel the chaos surrounding in the atmosphere. It would be only fitting that the lyrics in this song would be a cut above the rest of the songs as well. As simple as they might seem the message they imply is easily obtainable and relating. The Forgotten One
will probably be another overlooked gem as the instrumental track that was exhibited. This track is an acoustic one with a very bluesy like feel to it. I wouldn’t doubt if the song was written on improvisation and it comes off as a very free sounding song. It’s soothing to hear the singing and harmonizing by the two members who adapt to the songs atmosphere instantly. It’s quite a weird feeling at first but once you give it a chance you can find yourself in awe in how they can change styles so subtly. Still with the change in style the song the entire album has this very spiritual feeling to it which should and can be displayed in different lights and patterns.
is a slow progression that really is starting to put the listener in the feeling that the end of the album is coming near. As the song spirals out of control it shakes the listener up in a second wind since. It turns fast and aggressive and seems like once again is a song better suited for a live environment then it came out on recording. The End Of Eternity
comes in some eerie and I honestly reminisced of Tool when listening to it. I liked the dark setting that the instruments presented along with the monotone vocals. The song eventually starts to brighten up and spans into an awesome sounding jam session. I really enjoyed how the chemistry between the band felt so perfect in this song while being free. The bass line is audible with hooks that play off with the drums and interact with each other. The interlude of the song turns into this dark chaotic space where the band piles on the noise with that epic sounding tone from Jesse Leaches screams. The combination just packs such a hard punch that it’s really amazing how well it was thought of and recorded. For fans of the faster edge and simpler song constructions might be falling asleep anyone who can appreciate a song that seems like it never ends and always adds fresh parts this is a true treat. Worlds Apart
rejuvenates the listener after a long inspectful listen to The End Of Eternity
. It comes out fast and is no stranger to a guitar solo effort that spirals into the melody of the song. As the song pulls out little tricks that haven’t been shown off before it feels more focused on the guitars and exhibits excellent soloing that makes it a memorable experience. Fall From Grace
puts through a last hurrah to an excellent album but fails to be as memorable as possible. For one I think that between the time of “The Forgotten One” which really slowed things down and never really built up to full pace could’ve exhausted the listener in the fact that it’s 13 track album and the last 3 tracks are some of the longest ones on the entire album. The harmonies here are haunting yet soothing to the ears in the bands bow out.
Strength In Numbers
I know in the introduction of this review I said a line that it would be an injustice that if anyone compared old/new Killswitch Engage to Times of Grace – Hymn of a Broken Man. I did this a lot in this review to make the point no matter what anyone says or tries and prove that this comparison is inevitable. As most of the songs don’t confuse you in thinking that you’re listening to different bands at once- they refrain from falling into the metal core plague of all sounding the same. It’s strange to know that Adam D wrote all of these songs recovering from back surgery and that Leach always seems to be battling demons of his own putting a highly emotive punch to the album. With both of these situations combined “The Hymn of a Broken Man” is an extremely satisfying album for which every fan that’s even remotely interested in this genre should have. Call it a debut, a reunion amongst friends, or a super group, it really doesn't matter. What Adam and Jesse have given their fans is the equivalent to a wet dream in their collaboration. This is a dark, furious and beautiful record about adversity, despair and the power of redemption. Times Of Grace has set the bar really high as we enter the New Year and makes its best impression in not falling behind times when we reach next winter. I've been going through some very dark times myself recently but this album has really affected me in ways more then I could ever comprehend. I can't remember the last time, if ever, that a metal album moved me to tears. And I hope to say never peacefully, never again.
Original Release Date:
January 12, 2011