February 27, 2011

Album Review: "Dimensions" by Audio Insight

Progressive rock is a genre that has its tested veterans and its one-shot failures, and very little in between. When a band forms and chooses its direction as progressive rock, that band needs to have a very clear goal in mind, or else they are usually destined to become one of the many one-shot failures. In the modern realm of prog rock, bands like Karnivool, Mutemath, and even Coheed & Cambria have garnered immediate success because of their clear and distinct vision and goal for their sound. So it is with New Jersey's newest three-piece prog act, Audio Insight. These college kids have a firm grasp on the sound they want to create, and while they require some polishing, their debut album Dimensions is an impressive beginning to their career.

February 20, 2011

Album Review: "The Hymn of a Broken Man" by Times of Grace

In every era and genre of music, there are certain albums that define the period and establish trends that everyone else follows. The dawn of metalcore in the early 2000s was defined by Killswitch Engage's monumental sophomore album, Alive or Just Breathing. The perfect blend of harsh and clean vocals from vocalist Jesse Leach, combined with the overwhelmingly catchy guitar riffs written by Adam Dutkiewicz, yielded an album with influential power still felt today. The speed with which Alive or Just Breathing began to change metal was astounding, and only matched by the shocking and sudden departure of Leach from the band in 2002, the same year the album was released. It was an unfortunate ending to what many consider to be the band's greatest era, and while Leach's replacement, Howard Jones, is more than capable as a frontman, Killswitch Engage has not yet released an album that has matched the influence and scope of Alive or Just Breathing.

Which is why Times of Grace, the new collaboration by Leach and Dutkiewicz, is already one of the best bands in modern metal, nine years after the fateful change in Killswitch Engage's lineup. In that time, Dutkiewicz's position as one of the best songwriters in American metal has not changed, as he is still able to craft incredible compositions on guitar, bass, and drums. Meanwhile, Leach has somehow become an even more powerful singer, with an even wider vocal range and more control over his primal screams. These factors come together on the duo's debut album as Times of Grace, entitled The Hymn of a Broken Man. And just like Alive or Just Breathing before it, The Hymn of a Broken Man is already attracting praise and accolades from all over the metal community for its pure excellence.