ALBUM: Times Of Grace – The Hymn Of A Broken Man

Release Date: January 18th, 2011
Label: Roadrunner Records
MySpace: None available


Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage and Jesse Leach, Killswitch‘s previous vocalist on their first and second albums, have reconciled to bring into being a new band, Times Of Grace. While Killswitch fans will no doubt be anticipating the potential of this album, other people will be dubious as to whether these two can work together again and make it work on an album that Leach has called “the most epic work of our careers in my opinion”. They’ve set themselves a hill to climb already by proclaiming such a statement, bearing in mind that ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’ (Killswitch‘s second album, and the last one Leach appeared on before leaving) is fondly remembered by fans, and is arguably the band’s best work. They needed to show that they weren’t forming this band for the gimmick factor but for themselves and the metal world. They needed to live up to expectations, and they have done so brilliantly.

First song and debut single ‘Strength In Numbers’ is a great choice as an opener. The song starts and ends with a marching drum roll, and it’s all about Leach‘s sorely missed vocal style that carries the song. The guitars are typical Killswitch, in fact it sounds like their older Leach-era work; blastbeats, machine gun fire drums and a roving bassline make for an impressively tight song for a band that hasn’t given much away about their sound until now. ‘Fight For Life’ starts with a down tuned bass, similar to ‘Rise Inside’ off ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’. The whole song is a carbon copy of ‘Rise Inside’, and though it does seem a bit inept that the band have produced a song that is blatantly plagiarised, it does still work because it’s like delving into times gone, and for diehard Killswitch fans, they’ll agree that the song is one of the best on the album, however disappointing it is that they’ve more or less ripped off Killswitch‘s older work. The lyrics are fitting too: “give me the strength to carry on”.

‘Hymn Of A Broken Man’ is undoubtedly the best song on the album. It’s melodic, yet still has heavy breakdowns and ranges from the dark depths of death metal to the very opposite sound of shoe-gaze in an instant. The guitars soar and dive over technical drum work, all while Leach uses his trademark throat ripping vocals to great effect. This is the song that separates Times Of Grace from Killswitch Engage entirely. Being members of that band at one point or another, it’s obviously going to play some level of influence into their sound, but this song shows they are going in a truly different, and somewhat more specific direction. The song could have a personal note too, with Jesse being the broken man after leaving Killswitch and never truly finding his feet in another project apart from this one.

Record closer ‘Fall From Grace’ is a laid-back, ambient affair that has no screaming. It’s just plain singing and guitar riffs that show a softer side to Times Of Grace that make this song. It is a calming end to a furious, in-your-face album that shows Jesse Leach is back on form. It plunges him straight back into the forefront of truly talented, original metal vocalists. Fans will without a doubt be glad to see him back.

‘The Hymn Of A Broken Man’ sounds like an embrace of old Killswitch but it is more mature and more directed towards the metalcore genre that Killswitch have somewhat moved away from. If Times Of Grace churn out another album like this then they are sure to take Killswitch‘s crown.

Written by Rhys Milsom