While its predecessor was conceived from a hospital bed during a time of personal turmoil, the ever jovial and self-deprecating Adam Dutkiewicz (opens in new tab)heartily agrees that Times Of Grace (opens in new tab)'s second album is “even more of a sad bastard record.”
Insert quote herefrom singer Jesse Leach to ferociously up the emotional clout. But while 2011's debut The Hymn Of A Broken Man took tentative steps away from the well-mastered blueprint of Adam and Jesse's day job in Killswitch Engage (opens in new tab), its follow up delves even further into foreign realms. Huge post-rock swells pass through country, moody depths and alt rock before meeting minimalist Americana, all while upping the heaviness, hope and heartstring-plucking melodies that the duo have become so known from.
“It's definitely a lot different to Killswitch. I feel like when I write for Killswitch there's a specific expectation I have to strive for and maintain, but with this I can do whatever the hell I want; it's very liberating,” Adam says of the freedom Times Of Grace offers.
For someone who has largely been pigeonholed to a specific sound thanks to the impact of Killswitch as well as being producer du jour of the metalcore style they spearheaded, it's certainly a refreshing experience for both creator and listener. “I did it out of the love of music, it's a complete passion project,” he adds. “I'm just trying to find my feet with a just different approach in music instead of worrying about blastbeats, thrashy riffs and double bass stuff.”
Though the debut was spawned in trying circumstances, the ten year wait for a sequel demonstrates that Songs Of Loss And Separation presented its own challenges. Not least was finding a time when both its main members (drummer Dan Gluszak completes the lineup) weren't recording or touring with Killswitch after the singer rejoined in 2012. “It was a trickle effect I guess, doing little bits when I had time or Jessie was free,” Adam explains of the writing process. “It's been in the works for eight years or so. I remember writing the first song off the record, Burden Of Belief, while we were on the Killswitch record before last.”
This more elongated gestation period may go way to explaining the varied sounds and textures throughout the album, from the imposing wall of sound on Far From Heavenless, the haunting Medusa and angelic To Carry The Weight. Yet despite his impressive turn on the tender Cold, a full solo record appears to be a step too far for even someone as talented as Adam, even if he refuses to speak positively about his performance. “I don't think I could do a whole album. It's a struggle for me to confidently write lyrics, and confidently perform them. I just don't have the words. That's what I admire about Jessie: he's always got a lot to say and has a very poetic approach to his lyric writing.”
Keen to give as much credit to his bandmate and friend, the praise wouldn't be complete without another tongue-in-cheek quip aimed at himself: “He's so much better with metaphors and illusion, whereas I'm just so literal and stupid. And let's be honest, who wants to hear a whole album of my stupid voice?”
Adam Dutkiewicz: 10 albums that changed my life
1. Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve (1995)
“I started thinking about records that shaped my writing style and who I am, and it started with Meshuggah (opens in new tab). I remember when that record dropped I had just started university and it floored me how incredibly technical yet musical it still felt to me.
"It had a huge impact on the way I hear drums and drum phrasing – one of the coolest things about that record is the way it's recorded and how well you can hear his hands. The drum performance is amazing. I play guitar in all my bands but I'm drawn to the drums on all their records, [Tomas Haake (opens in new tab)] is just a force of nature man, he's out of control.
“Every new band sounds like them, but dumb, like Meshuggah on drugs hahaha; the Fast Food Meshuggah.”
2. Metallica - ...And Justice For All (1988)
“Metallica were a massive influence for me learning guitar. I started listening to them around the same time I got an interest in playing instruments, so I heard Master Of Puppets and ...And Justice For All, and right away I started teaching myself songs off those two records. I was like 'Palm muting is so sick, and all that down picking is so bad ass!' James Hetfield became my hero. Awesome.”
3. Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters (1982)
“I love the Dead Kennedys (opens in new tab). It's so aggressive yet musical, with lots of punk rock messages that hit all the right spots for me. I just put it on randomly on a drive home a week ago, and the songs still hold up, they're great."
4. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
“There are a few records that are more based upon sonic characteristics and landscapes. I love painting sounds and images into a song through effects, colourings and EQ curves.
I love every Radiohead (opens in new tab) album ever made, but OK Computer is just so fat and wide, it's insane. The songs are killer, I think they turned into a completely different band on that record. From there I was like 'God I think this might be the greatest band of all time,' and I'm probably not alone in thinking that. I couldn't believe all the sounds they got on that album.”
5. Sigur Rós – () (2002)
“When that record came out I thought 'What the hell is this?' It's absolutely mind-blowing the sonic landscape they're able to create on that record. It's the moodiest thing I've ever heard and one of the greatest things I've ever heard.”
Van Halen – 1984 (1984)
“When we started it was a weird time to be in a band, listening to both metal and hardcore but there was this strange class division between 'I listen to hardcore bands' and 'I listen to metal bands'. I remember I got flack for putting guitar solos in my first hardcore – metalcore I guess – band. People were like 'Who do you think you are, Eddie Van Halen (opens in new tab)?' and I was like 'I love Eddie Van Halen! I love playing guitar solos, sorry!'
“So this album was a big influence on me wanting to play guitar, Eddie was on fire on this record. Obviously it was chock full of hits, there's not a bad song on it, but there's some incredible guitar playing on it. I just remember being a kid listening to it all the time."
7. AC/DC – Highway To Hell (1979)
“I don't think there's a better sounding classic rock record out there: the guitar tone and the songs are on point. It's a perfect classic rock record. I constantly listened to it growing up.
“Angus Young (opens in new tab) was a pretty influential guitar player to me too, just aggressive yet bluesy. Maybe I got the wearing the shorts on stage subconsciously from him too. No tie though, I keep it casual.”
8. Slayer – Reign In Blood (1986)
“I was listening to Slayer (opens in new tab) during the hardcore band years and got grief for it: 'What the hell is this metal shit, man?!' No, metal rules man. It's obviously where we all got our influences from, listening to punk, hardcore and metal, which is why we have this metalcore genre thing put over us now. I love metal, I still listen to metal, and they're the godfathers of thrash metal.
“What was it like to support Slayer compared to Iron Maiden? Not to say that supporting Iron Maiden was a walk in the park – you could tell by the look on their faces that the [fans] were thinking 'Would you hurry the fuck up and get off the stage, I am not here to see you, I just want to see Iron Maiden' – but Slayer fans are meaner.”
9. Metallica – Master Of Puppets (1986)
“There's days when metal hits just right and you're like 'God, it's so badass!' It just hits.”
10. Led Zeppelin – IV (1971)
“I love all the Led Zeppelin (opens in new tab) records, but I'll throw out IV, why not? It's obviously a banger full of hits, but it's got the dirty groovy moment, it's got the ethereal moment, it's got the rock 'n' roll moment... it's so well balanced. A big part of my younger years was listening to that record a lot.
“I'm on a 70s music kick at the moment. A lot of ELO, The Eagles... we even listened to a bunch of Bob Seger the other night hahaha. The tones from that era just hit me in the right spot right now, harkening back to the moment I came out of the womb.”
Songs Of Loss And Separation is out now on Wicked Good