For 15 years, Tooth & Nail Records has been one of the top labels in the Christian music industry (not to mention one of the best "underground" labels in mainstream alternative music for the past few years). So an "ultimate collection" would seem like a fantastic idea. And it was when, a few years ago, the label released a six-disc collection for their tenth anniversary, chock-full of the best they had to offer. This year, they are putting out another offering as part of a series of EMI collections, each dubbed The Ultimate Collection.
The track list here is very strong, with well-known bands and songs like Emery's first single "Walls" and the super popular "Reinventing Your Exit" from music heavyweights Underoath. In addition, several unexpected songs made the cut as well. Tooth & Nail alumni Stavesacre, Plankeye, Ghoti Hook and Pedro The Lion have their place in the mix - although they're just kind of hanging out at the end of the second disc away from the bigger songs, making it seem like they were just thrown on at the last second. And while the rest of the songs may be great songs, it's rather disappointing that any time Tooth & Nail releases a compilation, it's the same songs that are chosen. Looking through my music library, I noticed that I had some of these songs on three or four different collections already. By now, most everyone has heard Anberlin's "Readyfuels" or Thousand Foot Krutch's "Rawkfist."
Again, the songs featured on this collection are some of the best. But excitement can't be found for the avid Tooth & Nail fan who most likely already has most or all of the songs in his or her catalog. Including songs from past bands whose music may be a little harder to get would entice more people to look into this set. Bands like Wish For Eden, Furthermore, and maybe even some old school Blindside would be perfect additions. And there's always the string of one-album-wonders to choose from: Grand Incredible, Discover America, Peace of Mind, The Undecided, etc. They may not have done much on the label, but they're still part of Tooth & Nail's history.
In the end, it just seems like not a lot of thought was put into making this compilation. It's the same old songs used over again and with boring artwork. For the Tooth & Nail-listening veteran, don't spend your money on this, but instead support the label's newest artists, like Children 18:3 or Search The City, or even an album you just haven't picked up yet. However, for music fans who are just being introduced to the label, or Christian music even, this would be a fine start, as it showcases some of the best they can give you.- Review date: 3/7/08, written by Scott Fryberger
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