Review Summary: Broken man with broken songwriting writes broken album
The thing that really prevents The Hymn of a Broken Man
from being great, in any sense of the word, is its problems with dynamic, tempo, and melody usage, vocal or instrumental. The flow of Times of Grace’s debut is so jagged and stop-start, the chore of listening to it makes the gems that appear later on in the tracklisting, like the purely acoustic and slowed-down “The Forgotten One”, easily the strongest and most enjoyable track of the bunch, almost not worth the effort of discovering. Roughly ten of the the thirteen tracks to be found here sound the same, a mix bag of ballad-esque starts and ends, with crunchy, melodic Killswitch Engage
-like metalcore, thrown together for a mess of overly long songs that prove to be completely forgettable once the clean guitar tone of “Fall From Grace” fades to silence at the album’s end.
And what’s with the use of poorly implemented melancholy, anyway" Granted, The Hymn of a Broken Man
was written by a broken man after all: primary songwriter and Killswitch-hero Adam Duktiewicz put most of this album’s contents together while sick in a hospital with back problems. Yet, seriously, what the man is trying to convey through the voice of friend and past band mate Jesse Leach can’t transition that well across on record to listeners, at least in a way that isn’t boring or that doesn't come across as forced. This lends much of the debut’s subject matter to fall on deaf ears, the equivalent of numerous pop-punk clichés hitting listeners in the face song after song, only in a depressed melodic metalcore context, with an emphasis being placed on clean vocals over those that are harsh.
Most of this problem can be attributed to how the vocal melodies here aren’t strong enough on their own, let alone when matched up with untraditional guitar riffs that are meant to supplement their effect in the music. Choruses are completely forgettable because of how the vocal melodies crash into the riffs, and since Times of Grace have a dynamic/tempo problem with their songwriting, the pacing and the amount of time each song takes to reach these choruses is questionable and often monotonous. This lends the album to being one jagged and tedious listen, song after song, with highlights being few and far in between.
Metalcore elites may shoot me, but The Hymn of a Broken Man
sounds exactly like what Killswitch Engage
’s Daylight Dies
would have been like if it had actually failed in 2006. The rising above oneself to reach a higher ground topic sounds worn out on this album, especially since the subject matter here is beat into the listener song after song in a way that completely misses the point and is unsuccessful, thanks to boring instrumentals and head-scratchingly forgettable choruses. This album may be enough to get Duktiewicz back up and on his feet, and thank God for that, but to be honest it's likely that The Hymn of a Broken Man
will put the rest of us to bed in exchange: it's just that boring.