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Times of Grace debut is a fantastic find! - 85%

EmFarlam, November 1st, 2012

With the current guitarist and former vocalist of Killswitch Engage, you wouldn’t expect Jesse Leech and Adam Dutkiewicz to come together to create the metalcore duo Times of Grace. Even though I’ve heard of this particular side project for while, it was only a few weeks ago when I finally decided to listen to their debut album, ‘The Hymn of a Broken Man’ (Roadrunner).

After listening to this album, I was pretty impressed. Leech and Dutkiewicz have managed to keep their metal-ness intact, but have introduced many non-metal influences, which in my opinion, has really filled out the overall sound for the better. As Dutkiewicz said so himself on his Myspace, Times of Grace was ‘an epic mix of Metal/Rock/Pop/Shoe gaze & Punk. All of your metal expectations will be incorrect, we are pushing genre boundaries!’ Indeed, any expectations that these two rocking dudes would not do well proved to be incorrect. Even though their debut’s release was delayed until January 2011, they ranked #44 on Billboard’s 200, selling more than 10,000 copies.

Overall, I thought The Hymn of a Broken Man was a strong debut. Being a vocalist and guitarist-in-training, I pay attention to how the vocals and guitars of any band sound, and I must say: I liked it. A lot. Jesse Leach really did showcase his pipes well, despite doubts in his skills, and proved his screamed and clean vocals could both be strong and emotional. It did sound like he was pushing it at some points during the album, although it could just be the style/sound he was going for. Not a big deal. Also, during ‘The End of Eternity’, his screamed vocals just ever so slightly reminded me of the vocals found on Converge’s album ‘Petitioning the Empty Sky’. Just slightly.

I also found that while the guitar parts in the album were very technical, they had personality. Lots and lots of personality! A lot of skilled guitarists, especially in the more extreme subgenres of metal fall into the ‘lifeless technicality’ category - they’re good, but with no emotion. Good job for keeping it real.

These guys must’ve been asking, “What would Iron Maiden or Avenged Sevenfold do?“ for the first song of the album, Strength in Numbers really showcased their more heavy, aggressive sound. The duo really let their metal and punk influences shine, and overall I think it was composed well. On the other side of the spectrum, both musicians allowed their more acoustic and clean side come out in ‘The Forgotten One’ and ‘In the Arms of Mercy‘. Not many songs can make me tear up, but these can. Good job guys!

For me though, their title song, ‘The Hymn of a Broken Man’ truly summed up the album’s sound into one song. With softer and more aggressive dynamics, along with solid effort in all the musical areas, these guys really succeeded in making great music. Despite this, the songs on this LP do sound akin to one another, which may or may not be a good thing. Personally I don’t mind, since Leech and Dutkiewicz are both well-established musicians…but, I’m going to give them MORE kudos anyways for making each song catchy in some way, without making it super cheesy or poppy. Do you not realize how rare that is nowadays?!

Again, solid debut album. With great vocals, technical, personable guitars and a strong rhythm section, both Duekiewicz and Leach have both put out a ton of musical effort and it’s paid off. I’d definitely go out and buy the album if I had my own income. You know what? So should you.

Rating: 8.5/10
Artists You Might Also Like: Mutiny Within, Avenged Sevenfold, Soilwork, Bullet For My Valentine