Ten years after their debut album, The Hymn Of A Broken Man, Jesse Leach and Adam Dutkiewicz have revisited their Times Of Grace project. Back in 2011, with Jesse yet to have returned to the Killswitch Engage fold, TOG felt exciting due to the reuniting of the duo after a lengthy period of estrangement. In 2021, we’re once again used to seeing the two men together, with Killswitch having released three Leach-fronted albums since 2013. So, can TOG inspire the same level of interest? What is the justification for a return to the project? Couldn’t this just be another Killswitch album?
One brief listen to Songs Of Loss And Separation will surely answer those questions; this is very definitely not a set of songs that could fit in the Killswitch back catalogue. Rather than the beefy metalcore, razor-sharp riffing and soaring choruses, this is a slower, earthier and more sombre record. Leach himself is only really recognisable from his pained, honest lyrics, which are tear-jerkingly moving at times, rather than his voice, which sits in a deeper, huskier croon than his usual throatripping style. Meanwhile, Dutkiewicz’s guitars are more lackadaisical in style, borrowing more from Jerry Cantrell or The Cure’s Robert Smith than he does melodeath for the majority of the record. Most pronounced, though, are just how deeply these songs ache with sadness and melancholy. The grungy Mend You is wonderful, and album highlight, To Carry The Weight, is a perfect mix of Killswitch at their most anthemic, vast, shoegazey tones and a genuinely world-class vocal performance that would surely stir even the stoniest of hearts.
Times Of Grace have more than justified their return here; Songs Of Loss And Separation is arguably better than anything the two men have done in their day job for some time.
Songs Of Loss And Separation is out on Friday via Wicked Good.