Originally published in Guitar World, January 2011
Times of Grace reunites Killswitch Engage’s guitarist and original lead singer.
Four years ago, while on tour with Killswitch Engage, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz found himself laid up in a London hospital bed with a severe disc herniation. Unable to walk, much less play his instrument or rejoin his band on the road, he retreated to one thing that had always given him comfort: he wrote songs—in his head.
“I was in excruciating pain,” Dutkiewicz recalls today. “The herniation was so severe it was cutting off all sensation below my waist. I was having trouble pissing and shitting. It was awful. But,” he adds, “what came out of it was one of the most heartfelt things I’ve ever done.”
That “thing” is Times of Grace, a collaboration with longtime friend— and original Killswitch Engage singer—Jesse Leach. Their debut, The Hymn of a Broken Man, pairs the songs Dutkiewicz conceived in his head in that London hospital with Leach’s husky vocals and emotive lyrics. The result is an album that combines raging, Killswitch-style metalcore with more moody and atmospheric moments.
The songs are further colored by the fact that, in addition to their shared musical history, Dutkiewicz and Leach were both going through hard times during the making of the record. “My life went into a downward spiral while we were doing it,” Leach says. “Adam’s pain was more physical, while mine was more mental. But our individual crises made it possible to understand where the other person was coming from and work it out in the music.”
Leach points to the song “Until the End of Days” as an example. “That’s a heavy one,” he says. “I wrote the words to that song during one of my worst moments. And on the album, Adam actually sings most of it, including the really painful lyrics. There’s something so poetic about that.”
In fact, in addition to guitar and some vocals, Dutkiewicz also produced and played all the instruments on The Hymn of a Broken Man (the duo will augment their lineup on the road with touring musicians). Of his many hats, he says the most challenging was that of drummer. “It was something I struggled with just because of all the nerve damage in my legs. My back problems really affected the sensation in my feet, so all the double-kick patterns took way longer than they should have.” He laughs. “But beyond that, it’s really easy playing with yourself.”