Thousand Foot Krutch – The End Is Where We Begin
Record Label: Independent
Release Date: April 17h 2012
A few months ago, a friend of mine recommended the record One-X by Three Days Grace to me, and being a musically open person, I decided to check it out, because it’s his favorite album, so it must be good. Well, hard rock and alternative metal have never been genres that really interested me, because they’re a bit heavier than what I normally enjoy, such as indie-rock, indie-pop, R&B, pop-punk, etc, etc. My taste in music is on the softer side, and it makes sense, because Justin Timberlake’s third record The 20/20 Experience is my favorite album of 2013 so far. Regardless, my friend introduced me to a few more of these hard rock bands, specifically RED, who released a new record entitled Release the Panic last month (which I also picked up and reviewed), and finally, Thousand Foot Krutch. This is a band that my friend has been talking about for awhile, and I’ve been meaning to check this record out much sooner, but I always find more things, or more records come out, and I never had the chance. Well, it just so happens that he had an extra copy of it lying around, and decided to send it my way. I’m very grateful for that, because this is a wonderful album through and through. That doesn’t surprise me, because my friend spoke very highly of this record as well, and now that I’ve listened to it plenty of times, I really understand why. In my review for RED’s new album Release the Panic, I talk about how I don’t really care for Christian rock, and how religious lyrics are usually quite repetitious and don’t do anything for me, but I liked that record because the themes were very open to interpretation, although it was rather obvious at certain points when they were talking about religion. The same goes for this record; it’s very clear when vocalist Trevor McNevan is speaking about religion, but it’s not so clear where you can’t interpret it any other way. You definitely can take the lyrics on this record a few ways, and that’s the best part, because if you are not a religious part, these lyrics are still enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, not all of the lyrics on here are religious in terms of subject matter, so there’s a lot of variety on this record. Well, the same can be said for the instrumentation as well. Thousand Foot Krutch is one of those rare bands that is very versatile, meaning they can switch “sounds” or even whole genres in a span of a couple songs. For instance, this record has a few instances where a very “heavy” song will precede a more acoustic laden track, or a ballad, yet they do it seamlessly. The record does not slow down, and they don’t even take a breath, so to speak. There’s one more thing that makes this record very interesting, but I’ll get to that a bit later. In the meantime, if the end is where we begin, let’s begin this record, shall we?
The record begins with “The Introduction,” and this record is really cool, because at three points in the record, there is an intro, interlude, and outro. It’s a bit different from other records, but it’s still really cool. A robotic voice basically sets up the entire record and its theme, which is the end is where we as humanity begin, and how if one doesn’t stand up for someone, they may fall for anything. I absolutely love that, and love the idea. The record’s theme isn’t so religious as it is introspective and a lot of the lyrics do deal with McNevan telling us, the listeners, to stand up and make a difference in our lives, as well as taking a look at things for what they truly are. There are a few “religious” songs, but this record is more just about finding the truth within yourself, and not letting anyone get in your way. The intro leads right into second track “We Are.” This song is really cool because the lyrics deal with what I just said, basically – not letting anyone bring you down, and we are the people who can make a change in our lives. Vocally, McNevan kills it, and he’s easily one of the best parts of this record, if not the best. This genre is very similar to a genre like pop-punk where the vocals and lyrics tend to leave the most lasting impressions, while the instrumentation just kind of stays in the background, but not always. This is one band where the vocals and instrumentation work very well together, because they take some risks, and do some things that are very different. This song, however, is a pretty straightforward hard rock track with a very strong guitar riff moving through the song, and powerful drumming that packs a nice punch, so to speak. If they were aiming to get the listener pumped for the record with this song, they certainly succeeded with myself.
The same could be said for third track “Light Up the Sky,” but not quite. Remember what I said when there was one more thing that made this band stand out that I needed to mention? I said I’d do it later, and well, it’s “later,” but that thing is this – the song opens up with McNevan singing the refrain, and the first verses begins a little while later, but instead of singing, McNevan begins rapping. If there’s one thing that makes this band stand out, it’s his rapping. To be totally honest, it’s really cool. In a genre where most bands really sound similar, this band takes a risk and ups the ante a bit. And to be honest, McNevan’s flow and his overall sound is really interesting. It doesn’t detract from the music, and his lyrics aren’t terrible. His singing voice is great as well, and thankfully, that shows up for the majority of the record. His rapping shows up on a handful of songs, but not very many, which does switch it up a bit. Afterwards, the title track appears, and this is also where the theme of the record really comes into play, and this is another straightforward hard-rock track, but for what it is, it’s enjoyable.
Sixth track “I Get Wicked” is another one of the tracks with McNevan rapping and he just slays that track, too; it’s one of my favorites, and it’s one of the most energetic tracks on this record as well. I love this song just because it has a “don’t mess with me” vibe to it, and the instrumentation backs it up. What’s really interesting, though, is this goes back to something I said earlier – this band is very versatile, because this song leads into “Be Somebody,” the first of two acoustic ballads on the record, both of which are absolutely beautiful. In turn, that’s followed by “This Is a Warning,” which is the very eerie interlude of the record. The interlude doesn’t really do a lot for me, and the first of a few complaints I have is that the interlude and the outro really seem a bit unnecessary. The record runs at 15 songs, but it’s only about 49 minutes. It seems a bit longer than what it is at times, and if you like longer albums, you won’t be bothered by this a lot, but a lot of the songs on here do end up sounding rather similar, so there are a few points in this record where I sort of asked myself, “Did I already hear this song?” That’s the one thing I don’t like about this genre; the songs (and records themselves) have a tendency to run together. That’s not the band’s faults, but TFK are a band that to pride themselves on being a step about the rest. With being said, ninth track “Courtesy Call” is another song that reminds me of “I Get Wicked,” and I might even call it “I Get Wicked, Pt. 2” just because the lyrics are a little less serious, in the sense that they deal with being in a club and basically just having a good time. That song leads right into tenth track “War of Change,” which is actually the first song I heard from this record when my friend originally introduced me to the band.
Sadly, though, this is where the record starts to get a bit sour for me. No, the last five songs are not terrible, but this what I meant by the record being a bit too long. If there is one good thing about the last five tracks, it’s twelfth track “All I Need to Know.” This is the other token ballad on the record, but like with “Be Somebody,” this is a wonderful song, and I’m glad it appears towards the last third of the record. On the other hand, tracks like “Down,” “Fly On the Wall,” and “So Far Gone” don’t really do a lot for me. They are pretty solid tracks, but at this point in the record, it’s starting to drag on ever so slightly. What makes One-X by Three Days Grace a brilliant record is that it knows when enough is enough, essentially. That record is a pretty nice length, and while I don’t mind the 49 minutes that I spend listening to this record, it does seem a bit much at the very end. Finally, the record ends with “The Outroduction” and it kind of just sums up with the intro said as well. It’s a nice little ending to the record, but I did say that it is rather unnecessary, just because the record is 15 songs, but that’s not a bad thing at all.
For a person who isn’t alternative metal / hard-rock, this record really gives me a nice impression with the genre, and this band specifically. They may have a few songs on there that don’t do a lot for me, but the songs that do hit, hit very well. The two acoustic ballads on here are very much highlights, and worth listening to no matter what, and even the more “fun” sounding songs are worth listening to. There isn’t a dull moment lyrically on the lyrically, let alone vocally. The addition of rapped vocals on the record makes it a lot more refreshing. The Doctor from Doctor Who once said, “Everything’s got to end sometime, otherwise nothing would ever get started.” I’m pretty sure TFK agrees with that sentiment, and I also agree, because the moment I end this record, I want to start it again.