Times Of Grace – Songs Of Loss And Separation
Released: July 16th, 2021
Jesse Leach | vocals
Adam Dutkiewicz | guitars
Dan Gluszak | drums
There is a technique in acting known as the: “Stanislavski’s system for acting” (created and named after Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavski ) which encourages actors to focus on their characters’ inner lives rather than outer expressions. This is also referred to as the “art of experiencing”. The phenomenal aspect that this method can promote within an actor, performer or at the most impressive level, a human, is a remarkable insight into another person’s life. A sincere understanding and empathetic interpretation of another individual’s journey; this does not mean the actor’s rendition will be without flaw, but it can encourage a higher degree of understanding for any observer of the method or performance.
Brad Pitt, an actor who needs no introduction, once said: “There are no Hallmark cards that define the next chapter, or the value of a history together”. Sincerely, this writer cannot think of a better statement to describe the band Times Of Grace. The two key members, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz and vocalist Jesse Leach have a history as tightly bound as pen and paper, but arguably rockier than the Rocky mountains. As aforementioned, actors like Brad Pitt teach us to live and experience another person to some measure, the prior statement educates us to not judge undeservedly without knowing one’s path and how it has shaped their current “being”. At one point in time, Adam D and Jesse were in the most promising stadium metalcore band in existence known as Killswitch Engage; then in 2002, a faceless resignation, a new vocalist (Howard Jones from Light The Torch) and almost a decade of avoidance for the lack of a better term – Times Of Grace surprisingly and properly arose in 2011 and was exactly what it was named after. In short, Adam D was hospitalised with spinal surgery, Jesse Leach visited his long-lost-brother and what came from that reconciliation was The Hymn Of A Broken Man – a spiritual metalcore connection of re-bonding and genius in 14 tracks.
The following then transpired: Killswitch Engage reunited with Jesse, a pandemic and THE project that was thought to most likely be that “once off” were all the right ingredients for Times Of Grace to be reborn properly from ashes and in 2021, these elements have helped present to the world the sophomore record: Songs Of Loss And Separation. Side note: To the readers, please remember, there are no hallmark cards involved here, this new chapter embraces the DNA of the “Jesse LeAdam D” bond, one which has been bound for over two decades, a history above value.
There is no denying that ToG’s debut LP was guided by this DNA that was in essence, the younger brother of Killswitch Engage. By no means a carbon copy, just a slightly different yet familiar flavour. “Chapter Two” however brings about DRAMATIC change, a nearly completely different vessel and this will be unsettling for many devotees of the first installment and those who have ‘Fixation On The Darkness’. So, here is a formal warning: this full-length is more for the faint hearted than the outraged.
Opener ‘Burden Of Belief’ has more affiliation with the Southern country rock seven-piece Whiskey Myers than Soilwork and it is discouraging to be frank. Why it is the introduction to this new phase is honestly perplexing; it isn’t repugnant by any means, in contradiction, Jesse Leach has never allowed himself to be so vulnerable, powerful and emotional lyrically and audibly in song before. The heavier vocal deliveries near the song’s end inspire the “sparked cigarette lighter” moment seen at live gigs (remember those?) – although, the question is, why start an album with a lullaby when it could be a “scull-it-dry” banger?
‘Mend You’ is essentially similar territory, more Staind than Still Remains – to close the song though, an aggression that provokes potency and thankfully follower ‘Rescue’ (aptly named) has the Killswitch Engage-ment that countless admirers crave throughout the world. ‘Far From Heavenless’ is actually where this expedition begins to enter a bizarre yet brilliant realm – as indicated prior, the relationship that the two main members of Times Of Grace have undergone has been, at times, similar to lava meeting water, which can create ROCK, but burns and cools aggressively and simultaneously. All of this comes out during this number miraculously; a marvel metal maze of sorts. This arises again on ‘Medusa’ which features a spoken word passage that seems stimulated by Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” speech also used in The Chariot’s ‘Cheek’.
‘Bleed Me’ is basically a metal-ish version of Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way’ which is slightly absurd but oddly and beautifully astounding. ‘Currents’ is another befitting title, as the musical movements and emotions of the track move like sea sickness; it sounds discomforting, in a way it is, but not disorientated. It would fit rather perfectly as the Nu-Metal track on the “Constantine 2” soundtrack, if that can be visualised. ‘To Carry The Weight’ is inherently the song Shinedown forgot to write because its weight isn’t worth carrying; ‘Cold’ is too ironically titled as it is pain-free in brawn, but it is painful like the not-warm cup of earl grey tea grandma made for you with tap water.
The six-and-a-half minute closer ‘Forever’ is realistically the “brothers-in-arms” calling or anthem – upon review of all components, whether Killswitch Engage, Times Of Grace and even Jesse’s somewhat unknown blues rock project Seemless, it all amalgamates here. An implosion and explosion: Country, blues and metalcore – Jesse even screams: “We can become as one”; all of it is present and it does work as the curtain closes.
“There are no Hallmark cards that define the next chapter, or the value of a history together”; when writing a summation for an album of this calibre, there is no better conclusion. This isn’t a Hallmark card, this chapter cannot be defined and the value of these heavy metal musical savants isn’t defined by Songs Of Loss And Separation. Is it worthwhile? Undoubtedly. Is it worth-your-while? Just ‘Embrace the Journey… Upraised’.
Times Of Grace – Songs Of Loss And Separation tracklisting:
1. Burden Of Belief
2. Mend You
4. Far From Heavenless
5. Bleed Me
8. To Carry The Weight
Don’t forget to suss out our interview with ToG’s Adam D here