June 17, 2016 Thousand Foot Krutch – EXHALE (Album Review)
Debuting in 1997, Canada’s Thousand Foot Krutch has created a network of success with ties in several aspects of popular culture. From sports to video games, on top of various awards, Trevor McNevan (vocals, guitar), Joel Bruyere (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Steve Augustine (drums) limit themselves only to the sky. Releasing Set It Off in 2001, they mixed Heavy Rap Metal and softer Rap Rock while featuring a few songs from McNevans’ previous band Oddball. A couple of years later, Thousand Foot Krutch had signed with respected Christian Rock label Tooth & Nail Records and released Phenomenon in 2003, marking a change in the band’s sound from Rap Rock towards a more Hard Rock realm. Still looking to progress, by the release of The Art Of Breaking in 2005, Thousand Foot Krutch had switched up their sound once again and began focusing on the heavier side of Rock. Continuing along this road, 2007’s The Flame In All Of Us was followed by 2009’s Welcome To The Masquerade, their most aggressive release to date.
Faced with a difficult decision, the band would soon declare label independence and release 2012’s The End Is Where We Begin on their own. The move was a big risk, but the reward was their most commercial successful album, proving artists can survive without the backing of a record label. Riding high, they followed up with OXYGEN: INHALE in 2014, and yet again, experimented with their sound. Well-received by fans, two years later they return with the second half of that storyline with their new album, EXHALE. Known for inspiring lyrics, the latest album is dubbed as one of the boldest steps forward by Thousand Foot Krutch. With that came anticipation from fans thinking, “Will this record be more mellow-leaning like OXYGEN: INHALE, or a return to heavier Rock?” Now it is time to see what the masters behind the music had in mind as they collectively “exhale.”
The lead single, “Running With Giants,” introduces the album with stomping drums and dives right into a heavy beat. Talking about not going through life having to face shortcomings alone, as they have pillars of support in family, friends and faith, in other words, giants, it is an uplifting and rocking track. Then, Thousand Foot Krutch rev things up with “Give Up The Ghost” as they get brutal with truth-striking lyrics. Set to crashing drums and even guitars, “Are you ready?!” dares fans to listen to the message of giving up the ghost of bitterness, even after everything they may have experienced in life.
Bringing on more attitude, “Incomplete” comes on with halting guitars and drums with a relatable topic of facing struggles that not everyone may understand. Balanced, the chorus backs down slightly while still expressing the ups and downs of life we all must face. Inevitably, it is up to the individual to find their way. Then, with a more Hip Hop vibe, “A Different Kind Of Dynamite” comes on with hollow drums and vocals that sprinkle a fast word or two around. A steady beat hammers along, and “Like shots fired in the middle of Vegas…” illustrates handling conflict in a rough, direct manner. Feeling like an underdog anthem, it is gritty and honest with an unmistakable edge.
As stated above, Thousand Foot Krutch have never been reluctant to try new things, and that can be heard on the Blues Rock leaning “The River.” Featuring a catchy vocal melody, while the song has a forbidden temptation quality about it, fans may feel the hot Southern sun, and the cool water baptismal as if they were standing on the banks themselves. More refined, “Push” opens with somber, echoing guitars, and Rap-like vocals speaking of finding strength, even in adversity. Reminiscent of older Linkin Park albums, the cut conjures up images of people from all walks of life standing together to overcome trials and tribulations of societal oppression.
Continuing with more thought-provoking words, “Off The Rails” comes in with understated guitars and drums, while McNevan’s voice rings clear of the uncertainty, confessing the question, “…what if I’m not who I’m supposed to be…” Feeling like a manic manifestation, the beat and vocals come together to create a great image of lack of confidence in present and future outcomes. Living up to its title, “Adrenaline” opens with a metallic sigh before blistering, fast-paced vocals push the pedal to the floor only to dial back the momentum a little for the verses. It is the type of anthemic track that will have fans bouncing during a live set. Keeping that same energy, but with less chaos, “Lifeline” is dressed with an emotional delivery from McNevan that is complemented by whispering backing vocals speaking of struggles with insecurities, frustration, and confusion.
While some albums begin to loose steam as they wind down, EXHALE keeps its stamina when a siren rings in “Can’t Stop This,” building up the tension before driving into yet another muscled beat. Expressing a message of self-worth and purpose, McNevan’s Rap verse attacks in the most vivid of fashions that is only pumped up by the crunching guitars. Moving into even heavier tones, “Born Again” features grittier vocals and low, rocking guitars that gives the sense of rising up as a reborn person. It could easily be heard as a single as the words flow like water. Concluding the journey, “Honest” rounds the album out as the only slow song, featuring symphony style violins and soft cymbals. Hope and humility are brought to life by the instruments, while the lyrics speak of the awesome power of God’s forgiveness, even over humanity’s shortcomings. A universal good vibration, regardless of one’s beliefs, it truly is the fitting final statement of the story.
Overall, EXHALE pulls everyday experiences and gives them a soundtrack. While the album features only one slow track, fans will notice that the heavier sounds are true to Thousand Foot Krutch. Thousand Foot Krutch had a vision for the two part saga of OXYGEN: INHALE and EXHALE. This album builds on the emotion of the previous work, and following its release, it is evident it would be best to listen to both records back to back to truth grasp their beauty. CrypticRock gives EXHALE 5 out of 5 stars.