Casting Crowns has a history of releasing a full-length album and not long after releasing a live CD/DVD in conjunction with their current or most recent tour. This tradition is as alive as ever, with their newest release, The Altar and The Door. The resulting CD/DVD is appropriately titled The Altar and The Door Live, and includes more songs than its predecessors, with eight tracks, making for a 35 minute listening experience. The DVD includes a full 45 minutes of footage from The Altar and The Door Tour, the music video for the radio hit "Slow Fade," the typical behind-the-scenes of the tour/band/ministry, and teaching videos from lead singer Mark Hall.
The CD portion of the album includes all eight songs from the DVD, with Mark Hall's commentary between tracks cut out. The songs are good, including old hits like "Praise You With The Dance" and "Love Them Like Jesus," and the rest of the songs are hits from their current release, including the top single "East to West" and the powerful finale of "What This World Needs." However, since Casting Crowns basically just plays their music without any added effects in the studio, the songs sound identical to their album versions. Usually the benefit of a live CD is to hear what the songs sound like live and capture the experience of the night, but Casting Crowns seems to want to document every album tour they embark on, and it's starting to get a little old.
The DVD portion of the album boasts the entire 45 minute concert footage, but is of course just a portion of the entire concert of the night. It includes Mark Hall's comments on the songs and how the band came up with the idea for them, and also includes a short sermonette by Hall, addressing how churches need to change. This is typical of nearly every Casting Crowns concert, and every Casting Crowns live album, therefore becoming an overused staple to try and "change our churches for the better." It includes the same eight songs as the CD, only with Mark Hall's personal and sometimes quirky commentary mixed in between them. It also includes the band's star drummer Andy Williams, doing what he does best: letting loose on the drums. It's another staple at their concerts, and to have it on DVD will likely excite fans.
Overall, this is another typical live album to add to Casting Crowns' short three-studio-album career. There's nothing different or spectacular that hasn't been done before, especially on any other of the band's other two live recordings. Suffice it to say that this is ultimately another one for diehards, and it will likely go gold, no matter how unoriginal or common it ends up being.- Review date: 7/24/08, written by Justin Mabee
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