September 16, 2014 Thousand Foot Krutch – OXYGEN:INHALE (Album Review)
Thousand Foot Krutch are one of the strongest rising voices in hard rock ever since their humble beginning in 1997. The three-piece band led by vocalist Trevor McNevan along with bassist Joel Bruyere, and drummer Steve Augustine always pushes the boundaries of their genre through six studio albums. Begun independently and spending nearly a decade with Tooth & Nail Records, the band came full circle to their independent roots with The End Is Where We Begin in 2012. Ironically their most commercially successful record to date, the band is living proof that success can be attained with vision, direction, and hard rock without the support of a record label. Now after extensive touring and broadening their audience, they release their seventh studio album OXYGEN:INHALE. Produced by McNevan himself along with Aaron Sprinkle, the record comes with much anticipation to their growing fan base.
OXYGEN:INHALE starts with “Like A Machine”, a simple heavy rock track that is quickly overshadowed by the song “Untraveled Road” which announces itself as a stand-out, setting the pace of the album. The song feels very Hybrid-era of Linkin Park, but does it well with rap and singing vocal combos, clean high notes with low gravely rhythms over steady guitars, and drums. Similar to “Like a Machine”, the tempo of “Untraveled Road” does not change throughout the song, but the course is catchy enough to have listeners humming along with lyrics like “When we scream our lips don’t make a sound/ we walk with feet on solid ground/ we walk where no one wants to go /on this untraveled road”.
The lead single off the record “Born This Way” continues the strong vocal and rhythm trend while even livens up the pace by not falling prey to a singular tone, playing with vocal and guitar pairs in a classic rock style successfully. Meanwhile, this song sends a message to listeners about standing out as an individual and being passionate, a little nod to the bands roots. Pushing the boundaries of what to expect, “Set Me On Fire” could come across to some listeners as a curve ball in the collective cohesiveness of the album following “Untraveled Road” or “Born This Way”. It must be noted that the band did this successfully on The End Is Where We Begin and perhaps enjoy challenging their listeners and keeping them on their toes. Although the tempo is energetic, the song is very relaxed and laid back while relying on a broken synthesizer and repetitive lyrics chanting “Set me on fire.” Breaking free of the formula in the first half of the record is “Give It To Me” working with strong, heavy guitar riffs, loud and clean high-pitched intro vocals of McNevan that make a statement between drum fills.
The second half of the album is much more subdued with tracks falling into a mellow, relaxed tone that melds together. With “In My Room”, “Glow”, and “I See Red”; slower, darker, moodier songs that utilize singer McNevan’s vocal abilities with haunting lyrics filled with longing that draws in listeners. “Light Up” and “Oxygen” specifically are soft and accented with acoustic guitars that progress with passion, simplicity, and subtle strings.
Altogether, OXYGEN:INHALE can be split down the middle while still playing to many of Thousand Foot Krutch’s strengths, and almost all of McNevan’s strengths. The harder tracks stand out by taking risks vocally and lyrically while experimenting with a rock style, but this contrasts greatly with the softer second half. The album is definitely a solid effort by Thousand Foot Krutch with a unique style and pace that takes more than a superficial listen through. CrypticRock gives OXYGEN:INHALE a 3.5 out of 5.