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When Times of Grace’s debut LP Hymn for a Broken Man dropped in 2011, it fit the definition of ‘side-project’, scratching the itch of Killswitch Engage fans wanting to hear Jesse Leach’s vocals paired with Adam D.’s iconic guitar tone.
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Hammerons? Tick. Gut-wrenching screams followed by soaring chorus hooks? Abounding. Emotion and sincerity? Sure – but the kind we would come to expect from a normal KSE release.
Not that any of the above were a strike against the project. There just didn’t feel to be that much separating ToG from the KSE juggernaut sonically speaking. Ten years on, and all it takes is one listen of Burden of Belief, the opening track of new LP Songs of Loss and Separation, to appreciate that, ten years on, ToG have now arrived in their own right. Burden of Belief, a tale inspired by frontman Leach’s spiritual deconstruction, abandons the shrieks and strained vocals that littered LP #1, with Leach opting for a blusier, low-register croon with dark, steady riffs allowing the track to simmer.
If ten years is what it takes for ToG to put out records then we can’t wait to hear what they offer up in 2031
This more sensitive song-writing approach, which combines southern rock ambience (Mend You) with the well-placed splash of metal riffage (Rescue), sets the tone for a listen that bears far less comparison to KSE, and allows the broader musical talents of Leach and D. to shine. Of course, there’s enough slabs of heaviness to keep the purists happy here, namely with the one-two hit of Medusa and Currents, a combo of sinister, stoner-inspired cuts that stand head and shoulders with the hardest hitters of the pair’s back catalogue. But where Songs of Loss and Separation most succeeds isn’t in the ability to be heavy, or even sincere; it comes in the form of excellent song-writing and melody, embodied on album highlight and closing track Forever, with Adam D. taking lead vocals on an atmospheric journey of both hope and catharsis.
If ten years is what it takes for ToG to put out records then we can’t wait to hear what they offer up in 2031, so great is the gulf between LP #1 and #2.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Burden Of Belief, Currents, Forever
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