Times of Grace and Red have released albums in this new year that left me dumbstruck.
"The Hymn of a Broken Man" from Times of Grace came out Jan. 12 and Red released its highly anticipated third studio album "Until We Have Faces" on Feb. 1.
Two of my friends were bickering over which album they liked better. That gave me the idea to compare and contrast the albums track by track, matching songs to one another based on musical composition or lyrical content.
If you don't know these groups, Red is a band that, to me, sounds like a cross between the older Linkin Park and Disturbed. I have loved their music since their debut album "End of Silence." Times of Grace consists of only two members: Jesse Leach (vocals, guitar) and Adam Dutkeiwicz (vocals, guitar, bass, drums). Dutkeiwicz is also lead guitarist for Killswitch Engage and Jesse was that group's original vocalist before resigning and then reuniting with Adam in this new duo.
I'm listing the "Faces" songs in the correct order and mixing and matching tunes from "Hymn." Each comparison is one individual round, with greater-than and less-than signs to indicate which band wins each round. Let's start with the pre-album singles.
Feed the Machine ("Faces") < Strength in Numbers ("Hymn")
I compared these songs not only because they were singles, but because of their raw power. "Feed the Machine" is Red's hardest single to date, but yet this song, and almost every track on both of these CDs, has beautiful instrumental work. "Strength in Numbers" is the best song on "Hymn,"; it starts with a long drum line intro then finally gets into the song after about 40 seconds or so.
Faceless ("Faces") > Willing ("Hymn")
"Faceless" was a good choice as a single because the song is catchy, it has good lyrics and a good musical composition. "Willing" was more than just another song on the "Hymn" album because its lyrics and musical composition make it good to listen to. But overall, Red wins this round.
Lie to Me (Denial) ("Faces") = Live in Love ("Hymn")
"Lie to Me (Denial)" is a good song, with good lyrics and musical composition, but Times of Grace's "Live in Love" challenges Red in every aspect. I have to give these songs a tie.
Let It Burn ("Faces") < Hope Remains ("Hymn")
"Let it Burn" is honestly a very strange style for Red, but it is a good song, although "Hope Remains" wins this round with its metal core sound.
Buried Beneath ("Faces") > Where the Spirit Leads Me ("Hymn")
These are the most melodic songs on both the albums, but although both songs are great, this wasn't a challenge for me. "Buried Beneath" is just such a beautiful song, I have to give this one to Red.
Not Alone ("Faces") < The Forgotten One ("Hymn")
Here are the softest songs on both albums. "Not Alone" has beautiful lyrics and musical composition, but "The Forgotten One" will win this round due to its amazing lyrics and melody.
Watch You Crawl ("Faces") > Fight for Life ("Hymn")
"Watch You Crawl" is one of Red's better harder songs; "Fight for Life" is amazing after it grows on you. But overall this round goes to Red.
The Outside ("Faces") > Until the End of Days ("Hymn")
Red's best hard song since "Breathe into Me"; I love the guitar on this song! "Until the End of Days" is Times of Grace's hardest number but it can't beat "The Outside."
Who We Are ("Faces") > Worlds Apart ("Hymn")
"Who We Are," the best song on "Faces," has great lyrics, great music and reminds me of Linkin Park's "Hybrid Theory!" At the same time, "Worlds Apart's" fast-paced guitar and chorus are very good. But Red wins again.
Best is Yet to Come ("Faces") > Fall from Grace ("Hymn")
Red's song is probably their best soft song on the album; "Fall From Grace" is good but doesn't put up enough of a fight here.
Hymn for the Missing ("Faces") = The End of Eternity ("Hymn")
My least favorite songs on both the albums. "The End of Eternity" would have been a lot better if it had more work to it. Tie round.
Until We Have Faces ("Faces") < Hymn of a Broken Man ("Hymn")
The title tracks: This is Red's first title track and to be honest it's comparable to the Rise Against song "State of the Union" with hard-driven guitars but yet very short. On the other hand Times of Grace's title track is beautiful; just the lyrics and musical composition blow away Red's track.
Both bands have produced works of beauty, but who won? Red's album won six rounds, while Times of Grace's won only four, with two tied rounds. So overall, I think Red's "Until We Have Faces" was a better release. As soon as it came out it hit No. 1 on iTunes best-selling rock albums -- and this album will give Red the fame they deserve for their work.
Alex Esplin is a junior at Dorius Academy who plays guitar. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.