Review Summary: I hope that Jesse Leach rejoining Killswitch Engage doesn't mean the end of Times of Grace.
After the enjoyable but quite disappointing Killswitch Engage II, most Killswitch Engage fans got really excited about a project that would reunite Guitarist/Vocalist Adam Dutkiewicz with former KSE vocalist Jesse Leach. Prior to the album’s release, Adam D stated that Times of Grace didn’t sound one bit like KSE. While that’s not really true, it isn’t a complete lie either.
Why? Because this album is (in my humble opinion) the best Melodic Metalcore album ever put on disc. It takes just enough of what makes Killswitch Engage work, but adds other elements to it also. You still get the fast melodic riffs and epic 6/8 choruses you would expect, but also get ambient segments, acoustic guitars and plenty of vocal harmonies.
This brings me to what makes this album truly special, the vocals. Jesse Leach inevitably took vocal lessons, because his voice here is just as powerful as it was back in 2002, yet much more convincing from a singing perspective (must be the beard). The same could be said about Adam D., who sings a lot more than expected here and complements Jesse’s vocal range perfectly. Instead of taking the lazy way out and layering vocal tracks to no end, they tried to make every vocal line the best way it could be by adding interesting vocal harmonies or backing vocals whenever possible. There are so many examples of this that naming a specific song is rather pointless. The lyrics aren’t exactly the most well-written lyrics out there, but they’re passionate, optimistic and fit well with the music.
On a musical level, Adam D. (who does everything including the production) knows his strengths and makes the most out of them. The level of guitar layers on almost every song is immense, but it’s always done in a tasteful way. He also doesn’t overuse solos, and each one fits perfectly. The drum playing rarely is anything spectacular, but the songs never really call for it. Also, the bass does a few well-done appearances once in a while and his a bit higher in the mix than in most Metalcore bands. Overall, never once does it feel like a wall of self-indulgence.
While it does feel like Killswitch Engage sometimes, they made sure to do just enough things differently to keep things fresh. ‘’Fight for Life’’, ‘’Until The End of Days’’, ‘’The Forgotten One’’, ‘’The End of Eternity’’ and ‘’Fall From Grace’’ are all songs that you wouldn’t expect to hear from the guy(s) who wrote THE END OF HEARTACHE (the album). What’s also great is that the album has different moods to it but always feels coherent, which is a thing most artists have a trouble with nowadays. ‘’The End of Eternity’’ is slow and depressive yet still has the most violent moment of the album in its final seconds, while ‘’Worlds Apart’’ (the following song) has this optimistic feel to it that just puts a smile on your face. However, it all comes together perfectly.
This doesn’t mean that the album is perfect. The first song, ‘’Strength in Numbers’’, feels more like a Killswitch Engage B-side then a fully realized Times of Grace song. The transitions are weird, the chorus is bland and it doesn’t feel like the rest of the album. Not a bad song, but it definitely is the weakest of the bunch. Another problem is that a good portion of the album relies on the ‘’epic’’ 6/8 chorus, which can get quite repetitive. Also, while I applaud the effort they did to make this different than ‘’that other band which I keep referencing’’, they could have done just a little bit more.
All of these are pretty minor points compared to how well-done everything else is. This album is wonderful, and at the moment my favorite Melodic Metalcore album. I just hope that Jesse Leach rejoining Killswitch Engage doesn’t mean the end of Times of Grace.