After a mediocre release with Oxygen:Inhale, Thousand Foot Krutch is back with the "sequel," Exhale, this time with more rock (11 out of 12 tracks to be exact). TFK have always been masters of crafting catchy rock hooks and lyrics you can't help but sing along to. The band delivers both in abundance here, but overall, this album lacks the lyrical poignancy and emotional impact to make this a memorable record.
TFK already put their best foot forward with their singles "Born Again," "Running With Giants" and "Give Up The Ghost." Tucked away towards the end of the album, "Born Again" is the strongest of these three with crunchy guitar riffs, a bouncy drum beat, singable lyrics and a great message proclaiming the power of God's saving grace. "Give Up The Ghost" features a ridiculously catchy chorus about his past sins being "out-haunted" by the Holy Spirit. The anthem, "Running With Giants," is the most arena-ready track on the album as Trevor boldly declares a sense gratitude for God's constant and transforming presence in his life. Trevor's vocal prowess is on full display throughout these songs as he flawlessly transitions between singing, shouting, talking, and quasi-rapping, proving he's come a long way since the band's first release 19 years ago.
Contrasting these highlights are a few weaker tracks, like "Push" and "Can't Stop This." "Push," which really needs a better name, has the same structure as their previous hit single, "War Of Change," but the execution and lyrics are not nearly as good. Even "Untraveled Road" from Oxygen:Inhale, which follows a similar formula, is pulled off with greater skill. The fist-pumping anthems "Can't Stop This" and "A Different Kind of Dynamite" are relatively fun, but have little substance. To be fair, the amount of things set on fire is limited to one line in "Incomplete," but there are still dozens of bombs and explosion metaphors. Apparently, Trevor inhales fire and exhales explosions.
"The River" is a mid-tempo rocker with a southern edge. It's hard not to disassociate "The River" from the plethora of other river themed songs when the lyrics used here don't bring anything new to the table: "take me down to the river / wash me in the water / take me to the bottom." It's especially difficult because Decyfer Down did a similar song better in 2013. "Honest" is the only ballad on the album, so there is inherently a lot of emphasis on it, and even more so for being the closer. While it is a solid track, it doesn't hold up well under the weight as it is not up to par with "This Is A Call" or "So Far Gone."
Exhale is far from a letdown, but it could certainly afford to take more risks. Part of the problem lies in having 11 rock songs in a row. There are a few unique moments on the album that help break it up from sounding the same (such as the fast and furious rapping on "Adrenaline" and the screechy guitar on "Off The Rails"), but when compared to the musical mastery of songs like "Welcome to the Masquerade," or the fun rhymes on "Phenomenon," these new tunes just don't stand out as much. Though Exhale is not the band's best release, it is step up from Oxygen:Inhale and TFK fans would be remiss to pass up on this rock fest.- Preview Review date: 5/1/16, Review date: 6/7/16, written by Christopher Smith of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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