The Element of Two: Leach and Dutkiewicz Return with Times of Grace
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 1 Comment
In 2002, a little-known band from Massachusetts put out a record called Alive or Just Breathing. This album would come to redefine what popular heavy music would sound like for years to come. With just their first effort with a major label, Killswitch Engage would catapult themselves to the top of the charts, turning heads in the world of heavy music, and with good reason. The album featured intricate and catchy guitar riffs, beautifully constructed vocals with uplifting lyrics, and crushing breakdowns. Soon after the release of the record, however, vocalist Jesse David Leach would go on to leave the band he poured his heart and soul into after going through a string of vocal troubles. The band would choose to go on after Leach’s departure, recruiting vocalist Howard Jones from the band Blood Has Been Shed. Jones exceeded all expectations, and well, the rest is history.
There was something about Leach’s vocals, however, and the tangible amount of passion you heard on that record was in a realm its own. Leach had this overwhelming sense of unity, encouragement and integrity in his lyrics that I really truly bonded with. So after several years later, and a few under the radar side projects, Leach announced that he’d be partnering up with KsE guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz to write a new record together, under the new moniker, Times of Grace. Their debut album, titled The Hymn of a Broken Man, released just recently, on January 18th, 2011. As you can probably imagine, I bought this album as soon as I could find it.
First things first, The Hymn is NOT just another Killswitch album. I’m glad they didn’t try and recreate another Alive or Just Breathing either. The Hymn is more of heavy rock album, most categorized since Leach’s vocals are mostly clean singing these days, as fewer moments on the record actually involve screaming. I don’t have a problem with that at all, as I believe Leach has the most powerful vocals in contemporary heavy music.
As I expected, the lyrics on this record are great, empowering, and full of passion. This album is a bit darker in tone as I might have anticipated, both Leach and Dutkiewicz experienced some incredibly dark times in their life during the period the wrote this album, hence its title. The emotions are definitely front and center, but I’d never call this an emo experience by any stretch of the imagination. This is an album about the overcoming of the darkest days of life, from grief to realization, Leach and Dutkiewicz really wear their hearts on their sleeve throughout this experience.
The guitar work on this album is truly exceptional as well, and really shows the strengths of Dutkiewicz’s versatility. While songs like “Where the Spirit Leads Me,” and “Strength in Numbers” might sound like more traditional Killswitch songs, tracks like “The Forgotten One” and “Fall From Grace” take you in an entirely different direction. “The Forgotten One” sounds more like a song you’d hear from someone who’s traveled from the Midwest, telling their tale to whoever would listen, with a very old timey folk-like acoustic guitar riff and some of the most honest lyrics on the album.
“Fall From Grace” is a song sung entirely by Dutkiewicz, a hauntingly hopeful climb from sorrow. Adam sings that “even through this pain, [he] will feel again, even through these tears, [he] will love again.” While this track features Adam exclusively, he makes pretty consistent footprints during the album, often singing pre-choruses or backing vocals. The two voices always compliment each other, and when they sing together, neither voice truly overpowers the other. Not only does Adam sing on this album, but also provided performances of all instruments involved in the arrangements. That’s an easy way to make all us other musicians feel like under-achievers, isn’t it?
Overall I’d say this is an incredible offering for all fans of Killswitch Engage, contemporary metal, fans of rock music, or just anyone looking for music to carry them through a hard time. The guitar work is consistently catchy, familiarly heavy, and overall impressive. The vocals are some of the most passionate you’ll find in music today. I’d definitely recommend going out and picking this one up before it’s gone. Who know how long this album will be in print, as it’s only a side project from the group. Times of Grace will also be in tour supporting this release with a quick tour, performing mostly in small clubs across the country. For any local readers, Times of Grace will be performing at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco this week, February 9th, for a super low price of $13. Seeing as how I never got a chance to watch Jesse Leach perform with Killswitch before his early departure, I promptly picked up my tickets to this show, so you know where you’ll find me Wednesday night.
In conclusion, The Hymn of a Broken Man is a triumphant way to start 2011, and I look forward to more material released my this dynamic duo in the future.
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To hear more of Times of Grace and get more info on the band head over to their official website: http://www.timesofgraceband.com/
Check out the official video for the band’s first single, “Strength in Numbers,” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW6GtKeRo00