Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Times of Grace - The Hymn of a Broken Man (2011)
Metalcore fans around the world rejoiced when it was announced that Times of Grace, a project reuniting Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz with original Killswitch Engage vocalist Jesse Leach, were finally releasing their debut album after three long years of being a band. Dutkiewicz announced that the album would be "an epic mix of Metal/Rock/Pop/Shoe gaze & Punk." He also promised to push boundaries. Now, musicians often have a tendency of saying that their new material is able to push boundaries and the results being more of the same. This is the case for The Hymn of a Broken Man.
This isn't some kind of epic mix of styles, it is just standard melodic metalcore. It could serve as a lost album from the early days of Killswitch Engage. The difference is that when Killswitch Engage first came out they were new and fresh. They were the first big band to depart from the original style of metalcore by adding more melody and a sound more akin to the gothenburg style than extreme hardcore punk. Age has not done this style well, and Times of Grace are just a dime a dozen band. Even Jesse Leach, once considered one of melodic metalcore's best vocalist is rendered faceless. Furthermore, Leach doesn't do enough what he does best, which is scream. When he turns to clean vocals to add emotional contrast it comes off as insincere and Leach sounds like a poor man's Dustin Kensrue.
Adding insult to injury, they can't write a song to save their lives. While Dutkiewicz's guitar riffs are well executed, the songs sound thrown together and sloppy. For example, opener "Strength in Numbers" starts out with a strong riff, and then it begins to build up...and build up...and build up...and end. It doesn't serve the purpose of an opening song or even an intro. Its just poor songwriting, plain and simple.
"Willing" has an acoustic interlude that does absolutely nothing but sit there. "Willing" actually serves a purpose to describe the rest of the album, as Times of Grace often have softer interludes in the middle of songs that sound tacked on. Its like they went into pro-tools and cut up old Killswitch Engage b-sides and spliced songs by Thrice and 10 Years to serve as chorus's and bridges.
The beginning of "Live in Love" takes the most standard sounding -core riff in existence and is the worst performance by the band. Leach's yells are screechy and awful, and when Dutkiewicz throws in some triplet tapping its so off melody, especially with the blast beats that back it. It sounds like youtubing two different metalcore songs and playing them at the same time. The second half of the song does a complete 180, with a cool guitar break by Dutkiewicz and serves as a reminder of how good Leach is when he nails it. This is literally the only glimmer of good songwriting on the whole album. The songs are all indistinguishable from each other, save "The Forgotten One", a bluesy acoustic track that despite breaking the mold sounds entirely out of place, even if its not completely terrible.
Fans of old Killswitch Engage will find this disappointing. Fanboys will probably eat it up. Everybody else will find it terrible. Its ironic that two veterans of a scene they helped create sound like total amateurs here. The melodies are lost in poor choices of placement for the instruments, and the vocals (I'll give Leach a little credit, he at least sounds like he's trying) just spout off a poorly written attempt at positive lyricism. The Hymn of a Broken Man was supposed to be a triumphant return, but it just serves the purpose of proving that melodic metalcore, as a whole, has run out of ideas.
Posted by Joe at 6:29 AM