Saturday, February 12, 2011

Times Of Grace - The Hymn Of A Broken Man

Times Of Grace
The Hymn Of A Broken Man
Roadrunner Records/Warner Music Australia

Initially founded back in 2007 out of an extensive period of downtime on Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz behalf due to emergency back surgery, ‘The Hymn Of A Broken Man’ is the debut outing from Times Of Grace, which is the combined collaboration of Dutkiewicz and former Killswitch Engage vocalist Jesse Leach.
Having last recorded together as far back as 2002 on Killswitch Engage’s critically acclaimed second full-length effort ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’, fans understandably have some high expectations of Times Of Grace. And by the evidence presented on their debut offering, it’s clear that the pair have well and truly exceeded in delivering on their promise of something more than just a sequel or carbon copy of ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’.
The first single lifted from the album ‘Strength In Numbers’ (Which was also the first promotional video clip filmed for the album) is an explosive opening number for the album, and one that shows the pair’s song writing strengths. With a military-like drum-like introduction and spoken word speech from Leech, ‘Strength In Numbers’ transforms into an all out punishing number with some heavy handed riffing from Dutkiewicz, with Leech providing some truly memorable melody structures. In short, this song is both hard hitting and catchy, and overall something fans will devour.
‘Fight For Life’ represents a slight change of pace with the pair opting for a slower, darker and more menacing vibe, but all the while retaining the all important strong vocal melodies in the choruses, while on tracks such as ‘Willing’, the anthem-like ‘Live In Love’ and ‘Where The Spirit Leads Me’, Leech amply shows just how far his vocals and melodies have come since his days with Killswitch Engage and Seemless.
‘Until The End Of Days’ is quite an experimental piece in terms of both sound and direction, with the song showcasing the atmospheric side of the pair’s sound spectrum and the opposite extreme with its harsh guitar tones and screamed vocals, while the metallic drive of the title track ‘Hymn Of A Broken Man’ (Which is preceded by the short instrumental piece ‘In The Arms Of Mercy’) maintains the heavier vibe of the former track.
On the latter half of the album, ‘Hope Remains’, ‘Fall From Grace’ and ‘Worlds Apart’ fall pretty much in line with what the first half the album offered up, but its on the dark and heavy ‘The End Of Eternity’ and the stunning acoustic based ‘The Forgotten One’ that really stand out as the pair’s truly defining collaborative efforts.
Given those involved, many will have already pigeonholed Times Of Grace as a melodic metalcore outfit; with a sound that doesn’t stray too far from what Killswitch Engage have graced fans with in the past. In a lot of ways, they would be right in saying that too. But in saying that, it really does Times Of Grace a disservice, and sells ‘The Hymn Of A Broken Man’ short. There’s so much more to this than that. This is melodic hardcore, but delivered in a way that thinks outside the box, and with a lot more heart and emotion than what you would otherwise expect.

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© Justin Donnelly