I wasn’t super excited about Times of Grace’s album. I like Killswitch Engage a lot but it’s always been with Howard on vocals. Jesse never did anything for me. So I wasn’t sure about this record.
To be honest, Hymn of a Broken Man really took me a couple times through to start feeling it. My initial response was to just call this album Killswitch Light. But my second, third, and fourth time through the record I started hearing different things.
Musically it’s going to be hard for people not to make the Killswitch connection. While there are a lot of different sounds and textures that wouldn’t be something you’d hear on a KSE record, the over-arcing sound of Hymn of a Broken Man really falls back on Adam Dutkiewicz, who played and wrote all the music.
The metal guitar work is the signature riffs that have dominated KSE’s music over the last 2 albums. The riffs are all solid and while at times can run their course and get old, each song has enough dynamically that you don’t spend much time focusing on the riffs. While the similarities to KSE are there, Times of Grace doesn’t carry the same weight or aggression the KSE has.
The real gem and shining moments on Hymn of a Broken Man all belong to Leach. Jesse’s screams are stronger and better then they ever were when he was with KSE. He has great range going from really nice guttural growls, to higher pitched screams, and some nice yelling (if you don’t listen to hardcore, No it’s not all the same). His clean vocals have great range and are probably the best part. Leach’s vocal work is strong. His melodies are solid and while I’m not sure there are any super memorable or catchy hooks, each song has some unique vocally.
Lyrically, Leach is honest and passionate. His spirituality shines through and there’s no fluff lyrics happening on Hymns of a Broken Man. It was instantly a bright spot on the record for me and through continue listens, I appreciate the lyrical content more then the music itself.
To be honest if you aren’t or have never been a Killswitch Engage fan, you’re probably not going to like Times of Grace. If you’ve missed Jesse Leach in Killswitch or just want something similar to KSE, Hymn of a Broken Man will fill that hole. A solid record with great vocals and strong lyrics.