Welcome to the first Metal Monday. I have grand plans for this space. Maybe in the coming weeks and months we’ll showcase some new music (Devin Townsend, Crowbar), present some underground acts (A Pale Horse Named Death, Spylacopa), and perhaps turn you on to some hidden gems of mine (Therapy?, earthtone9).
Regardless, it’s all gonna be heavy so strap in.
I didn’t really get into Killswitch Engage until almost a year after their second record, Alive or Just Breathing, (and first for Roadrunner) was released. I thought the album was amazing for what it was and the thing that struck me the most about it was how positive and uplifting the lyrics were despite the brutality of the songs (and vocals). Lead vocalist Jesse Leach left during the tour in support of that record and eventually found a new way with the stoner/hard rock outfit Seemless and more recently with The Empire Shall Fall which is definitely a return to his metal roots with some nods to Meshuggah as well as KSE. Adam D continued as the guitarist/producer/performer extraordinaire for Killswitch and produced a number of other bands over the years (Unearth, As I Lay Dying)
And now after almost 10 years since their last full-length recording together, Leach and Adam D. have reunited musically for Times of Grace. From the opening march of “Strength in Numbers” it’s already apparent that this duo was meant to make music together as The Hymn of a Broken Man takes the positivity wrapped in brutality aspect of KSE to the next level.
Does it sound like Killswitch? Of course it does. You’ve got the chief songwriter and guitarist along with the original voice so don’t be surprised if Hymn veers toward KSE every now and then (“Where The Spirit Leads Me”, “Hope Remains”).
However, the album also goes beyond and includes elements of Tool-ish prog (The opening of “The End of Eternity” especially) and even country (“The Forgotten One”). The shining star here has to be Leach, though. The vocalist really found his voice after leaving KSE. Seemless was a band where he definitely showed off that this boy could sing. Here, he does it all. He croons, he sings, and when he screams, the heavens take notice. Seriously. Listen to “Until the End of Days” and disagree with me. I dare ya. It’s gonna be hard for him to top a vocal performance like the one he gives on The Hymn of a Broken Man.
Where the album works the best in my opinion are the songs where Adam D takes the mic alongside Jesse. Songs like “Willing” and “The Forgotten One” are so much more effective emotionally with the dual vocalists complementing each other and performing harmonies. When Adam takes the sole vocal lead on solemn closer “Fall From Grace” and sings “Even through this pain/I will feel again. Even through these tears/I will love again!” during the chorus, he creates the perfect ending for the first must-have metal album of 2011.