Formed in 2008, Times of Grace consist of Adam Dutkiewicz and Jesse Leach, of current and former membership of Killswitch Engage respectively. In spite of what one might imagine from these artists, The Hymn of a Broken Man bears only slight resemblance to the work of Killswitch, with a greater, almost indulgent, focus upon melody and imagery, creating a soundtrack which sounds beautiful and euphoric whilst deriving most of its lyrical content from a position of despair.
While on tour with Killswitch Adam required emergency back surgery and it is during his time in hospital that he wrote and composed almost the entire album, with Jesse only coming in later to assist with the lyrics and to record vocals. Adam plays all the instrumentation on the album, which enhances the uniqueness of the end product.
The album conveys an emphatic message that hope can be found even in difficult times that manifests itself through powerful lyrics and soaring composition. The tone of the album is set by the opening track ‘Strength in Numbers’; an aggressive anthem which combines spoken sections and a marching drum beat with a huge riff and massive chorus. The roar of the lyrics on this track are particularly impressive, brutal and packed with emotion. The arrangement of harsh and clean vocals creates tension in each track on the album which is often released during the choruses. However, some of the tracks disappoint when the tension is either not built sufficiently, or not released entirely. In addition to ‘Strength in Numbers’, highlights include ‘Willing’, the title track ‘The Hymn of a Broken Man’, ‘Fall from Grace’ and the acoustic ‘The Forgotten One’. The later is a brilliant demonstration of how acoustic guitars are still metal, and brings emotion to the fore. The album does lack hooks, although one could consider this album “one to listen to” making this irrelevant. That said, some of the tracks can sound a little raw and lack variation, meaning that some of the tracks fail to stand out.
The special edition comes with a bonus acoustic recording of ‘Willing’, and a companion DVD. ‘Willing’ really lends itself well to the acoustic sound, and is a worthy bonus track. The DVD contains a visual interpretation of the album as well as the video for ‘Strength in Numbers’. The visual interpretation’s do not match the music particularly well, although the video for ‘Until the End of Days’ is pretty good, and are not worth paying anything extra for.
Times of Grace will be touring with Joel Stroetzel (guitar, Killswitch Engage), Daniel Struble (bass, Five Pointe O) and Dan Gluszak (drums, Envy on the Coast). No UK dates have been announced at the time of writing.
Good: Unique. Powerful and emotive. Bad: Lacks hooks. Some of the tracks fail to stand out. 8/10