Times of Grace
Songs of Loss and Separation


2.9
good

Review

by Papa Gnocchi STAFF
July 18th, 2021 | 57 replies


Release Date: 07/16/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Songs of...

It’s been a decade since The Hymn Of A Broken Man. A literal fucking decade. Fairly, when it was announced that Jesse Leach would be returning to his former group, Killswitch Engage circa 2012 questions would be raised on whether it was a) necessary that Times Of Grace would follow up their head-turning debut or b) if such a task would even be on the cards now that the band had literally got back together. Still, fans thirsted for more Times Of Grace, sucking gently on the teat of Adam Dutkiewicz’s impressive song-writing chops and the nostalgia of a Leach led vocal performance while Howard Jones provided absolution and the end of heartache. You see, for whatever reason The Hymn Of A Broken Man was a timely release and deserved the accolades it achieved ten years ago—poignant lyricism washed over a portrait of metalcore tropes that was distinguishably familiar in light of its natural Killswitch Engage comparisons and yet, Times Of Grace’s debut found new ground for exploration, combining melodic hooks and endearing vocal nuance.

It’s here that we jump forwards. While too much nostalgia isn’t exactly considered a negative when it comes to new music, Times Of Graces’ Songs Of Loss and Separation panders instead of invokes; trading powerful lyricism and emotive themes for songs of middling quality, neither expanding on the formula of the Leach and Dutkiewicz or consolidating the emotive prowess found in tracks like “Willing”, “Live In Love” or the debut’s title track. Still listeners could expect the occasional gem to reach into their nostalgia and pull at the heartstrings. Songs Of Loss and Separation does unveil a few good tracks, but lacks the depth and character found throughout the debut.

Chances are such a summation could’ve been expected. After all, Jesse did rejoin Killswitch Engage not too long after touring The Hymn Of A Broken Man and helped release three very passable (if not astounding) metalcore records since 2013. Namely, Songs Of Loss and Separation suffers from tired lyricism, lack of triumphant (let’s live our life) atmosphere and plain instrumental efforts that blend its collaborator’s other projects. “The Burden of Belief” in particular sounds like it’s straight out of the Killswitch Engage handbook, albeit a slower rendition than the usual openers associated with such musicians. The track however does shine a light on Adam’s skill behind the sounds, as a producer Adam continues to provide a balanced foundation for both vocals and instrumental sections to come together. Even the sampled spoken word that bridges “Mend You” comes through clear, un muddied by the group’s tendency to throw melody and guitar lick into most passages with abandon. “Mend You” also trades punch for a sense of melancholy and Leach’s vocals slip into a bastardization of his time with Killswitch Engage and The Empire Shall Fall, the latter having the dominant edge. Leach’s clean vocals carry a motif of introspection and regret. So far, Songs Of Loss and Separation lives up to its title.

“Far From Heavenless” continues the album as expected, and is largely the central foundation to the record’s few highlights. Simple notes cascade into the atmosphere, surging and recalling like the tides on a beach. Only, the skies are grey, absent of the sunny optimism that normally dominates Leach’s particular lyrical palette. Despite being markedly slower than most of the tracks here and on the debut, “Far From Heavenless” is in-part the heaviest track on the new record, and the most reminiscent to the contextual straws of the debut to which Songs Of Loss and Separation grasp. For better and worse, loss and separation feature here in spades.

From here Times Of Grace’s 2021 piece is a mixed bag. “Bleed Me” is stylistically mundane, even if the lyrical message echoes the similar paths found in the record’s first half. “Medusa” tries to captivate the listener with ambivalent ringing notes, before building them into the track’s main riff (complete with that signature Dutkiewicz guitar squeal), but the track itself could feature as an Incarnate or Atonement bonus track and none would be the wiser. Despite the melancholic ebb that dances lightly under the weight of the lyrics, Leach’s spoken word alliteration sounds forced, snapped into position before his [well-placed] screams cut through the track. If not for the gradual build in intensity, “Medusa” would easily fall into the “this is a Killswitch track” pitfall.

At times, listeners are gifted with some bluesy, almost Alice In Chains-like music (“Currents”, “To Carry The Weight”), catharsis on the brink of taking over completely but there’s a dialed in sentimentality that bleeds through the album’s message (see: “Cold”). Songs Of Loss and Separation falls into a category of fanservice, stemmed by the fact there’s little to no actual defining moments. That sounds harsher than is intended, especially as “The Burden of Belief”, “Far From Heavenless” and closer, “Forever” are quality cuts but it’s hard to escape the fact that some of Leach’s lines sound tired, plain on a backboard of simple melodies. There’s no doubt that Adam and Jesse are capable songwriters, but their 2021 sophomore, a decade after the debut lacks the definable punch that would set it apart from their other projects or translate to the same dizzying heights found within The Hymn Of A Broken Man. Continuing, it’s hard to determine whether the wait between albums is worth it (largely, it’s not) as there’s a chance listeners and fans would be delivered the same transferable quality if this had been released say...three, five or even eight years ago. That there is Songs Of Loss and Separation’s biggest failing.



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user ratings (59)
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Staff Reviewer
July 18th 2021


14569 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

Surprised none of the userbase has given this a review yet. Counter arguments welcome, but ten years waiting for this?

Pikazilla
July 18th 2021


17635 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
July 18th 2021


14569 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

Yeah, apart from those tracks singles out this is pretty passable in terms of 2021 music.

TrantaLocked
July 18th 2021


2150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My expectations were somewhat low and I'm pleasantly surprised because I find this good enough to enjoy revisiting in the future. That's all I really wanted. The last three Killswitch albums I only revisit out of a sense of obligation. If only this had better creative energy behind it like the first and I had a sliver of hope Jesse and Adam still had that crazy shit in them but I guess they've moved on.

Sowing
Moderator
July 18th 2021


38515 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Never heard a Killswitch album but gave this a spin late last night and it was pretty average radio rock. Had enough memorable melodies to stick a landing, but nothing special (which is to say I agree with this review's assessment!)

Digging: Needtobreathe - Into The Mystery

TrantaLocked
July 18th 2021


2150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Have you heard their first album Hymn of a Broken Man? That is a very unique metalcore album you'd probably enjoy.

Toondude10
July 18th 2021


14551 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

KSE but with more depression

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
July 18th 2021


14569 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

--Never heard a Killswitch album but gave this a spin late last night and it was pretty average radio rock. Had enough memorable melodies to stick a landing, but nothing special (which is to say I agree with this review's assessment!)--



Pretty decent summation Sowing, if you have time I'd definitely recommend the tracks I mentioned from the debut and maybe "The Forgotten One" just to pander towards [what I think] would resonate with your tastes. Even then, Leach's side project, The Empire Shall Fall is stylistically more interesting than this.

Toondude10
July 18th 2021


14551 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

nothing will ever beat Alive or Just Breathing for me though

Muzz79
July 18th 2021


960 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The Hymn of a Broken Man was masterful but this is a decade later and they’re not gonna be feeling that same vibe. Another KsE album would’ve been boring but this ain’t. I also picked up on the AIC sounds and found Adam’s vocals were solid and added depth

Digging: Ildaruni - Beyond Unseen Gateways

KennyB
July 18th 2021


17 Comments


Far from Heavenless is a great song, I'll call it a classic.

Durrzo
July 18th 2021


2407 Comments


I really like their first release, but this did nothing for me. Spun it once and I may never spin it again, I was just bored. Their original work had actual emotional weight which was a huge part of the appeal for me, and I found that element almost entirely absent from this.

veninblazer
July 18th 2021


12235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this was great, i'll be spinning this every now and again

peartnoy
July 18th 2021


1548 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

You seem to hear a lot more Killswitch Engage in this album than most people (including me). If anything I hear a 2021 version of Alice in Chains mixed with the softer/slower stuff from the debut album.



That being said I'm not too far off from how you feel about this. Burden of Belief and Far From Heavenless are 2 of the best tracks (along with Mend You) but this felt quite underwhelming considering I looove the first album. Rescue sounds nothing like the rest, Bleed Me has a nice vibe but doesn't quite build properly, Medusa is good but way too long and the effects on Jesse's voice can go fuck themselves, Currents is decent Alice in Chains worship, To Carry The Weight is pretty but the lack of vocal harmonies (especially near the end) triggers me, the repetitive hook in Cold kills the vibe, Forever is very meh to me overall.



Every song has a little something but doesn't quite get there. But I'll say it has grown on me after 3 listens. Also it sounds incredible overall which definitely helps.

Toondude10
July 19th 2021


14551 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

people tagging this band as folk lmfao

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2021


14569 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

Makes sense. I mean if the wiggles are death metal…

Jamdbz
July 19th 2021


1003 Comments


Thanks for reminding me that the Empire Shall Fall was a thing.

Solid review. I enjoyed this but I can't imagine returning to it much after a few listens

TrantaLocked
July 19th 2021


2150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There is more of a folk influence on Hymn of a Broken man, but still probably in the top five for this one.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2021


45491 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ngl I'm surprised to say but I like this. leans a bit close to radio rock sometimes (espec. Rescue which is ass) but the conviction is still there and Jesse's voice somehow just gets better with age, which keeps it on the right side imo. do wish this had some more Adam D vocals tho



Far From Heavenless truly a ripper

Digging: Adjy - The Idyll Opus (I-VI)

TrantaLocked
July 19th 2021


2150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Their voices are immortal. And the production is so good on this one, easily Adam's best ever. Basically tracks 1 through 7 are enough for a 4 from me but the last few kind of ruin the balance the album has going. Tone the radio rock side a small amount and bring a little more energy to key points and this would be a solid 3.7-4.0 honestly but it's not needed. These guys have proven they're going to make music for a career so whatever happens next I'm ready for.







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