DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional reviewer and am receiving no compensation for sharing these opinions! The views expressed herein are entirely my own.
A belated Happy New year everyone! Okay, so I know it’s been a while since I posted on this blog, but I had to come back to do a review (better late than never) for an album that’s been on my playlist for a while now and I’ve been listening to a lot.
Anyone who’s met me knows that a few years ago while in college I took a serious interest in rock music recorded by bands whose members share my Christian beliefs. Some of my personal favorites include RED, Skillet and Thousand Foot Krutch. Thousand Foot Krutch has been a particular favorite. As an emcee I found myself drawn to their combination of headbangers, rock/rap fusion and slower, more meaningful songs. I’ve had the opportunity to see them perform live once, at WinterJam in 2014, and even got tweeted by lead singer Trevor McNevan’s account both prior to and during the show. (I remember flipping out when I tweeted him that we would see him in Greensboro NC, only to get the message “See you sooooon!” from his account . I have proof below, hehe
Ok, so now that my fangirling is over… (sorry about that) let’s get down to the nitty gritty and go track by track through Exhale.
- Running With Giants – The album comes out swinging on this high-octane title track. There’s no hesitation in Trevor’s vocals. The song constantly reminds you that the way God loves us allows us to never be alone. “I can be empty but I’m not nameless/ It’s the way that You love me, the way that you love me”, he sings. Even the prechorus carries the reminder “I am not alone here/I’m not on my own here/I am not alone/I’m not on my own” Nonetheless, the song doesn’t go soft. It’s easily a favorite. As of the writing of this review, I’ve listened to the song twelve times.
- Incomplete – Incomplete straddles the line between rock anthem and ballad. The strong analogies continue with this track as well. Incomplete seems to place a focus on our humanity, but there’s also some unapologetic hardcore analogies in the lyrics that made me have to stop and think.(“There’s a lotta sharks that swim in these waters/ That came for your sons/ That came for your daughters/ You got a lot of heat/Just makes it hotter/ The blood in this water’s/Makin’ us stronger” and “No one ever said/ There wouldn’t be waves/ Sometimes shovels have to dig graves/ Burn a lotta matches tryin’ to create flames/Lips can sink ships/ but friends create change”)
- Give up the Ghost- Another song that really makes you think, but you have to listen closely to the lyrics. This song seems to take aim at a popular world lifestyle: “Flaunt it if you got it.” It also deals with the fact that God can take any issue from you if you let Him.
- A Different Kind of Dynamite- This whole song is a challenge. Unlike most of the tracks, this one is straight, raw, unapologetic Rock/Rap. It seems to focus on the explosive power of God. “Like shots fired in the middle of Vegas/ Roll Tide in the middle of the streets/Like a dogfight in a clear blue sky/ We fight with a different kind of dynamite”
Trevor also seems to evoke a little bit of David with the lines “Don’t underestimate me/ I run with Giants and no safety/ You can call me crazy/ But keep hatin’ it don’t faze me” and “Bring it on/Your whole empire/Versus my Messiah/ Facin’ different types of Goliaths/Takin’ it higher”
- The River – In a major departure for the album, this track features a slightly more country-twinged sound. Clearly focusing on baptism by water, this song evokes an analogy you probably might have expected from a group like Decyfer Down, not TFK.I (Until, of course, you remember that Trevor McNevan got saved as an eight-year-old when he responded to an altar call at a country singer’s concert at a church .) Edit: This song took on a whole new meaning for me after I received my own baptism by water. There’s a LOT of symbolism in this track that I never noticed before.
It’s not necessarily one of my favorites, but I do like it. I’m sure it will grow on me.
- Push – Another rock/rap combo, but more easygoing than “A Different Kind of Dynamite.” This track is very Linkin Park-esque [though I hate making that analogy because TFK is much better, in my honest opinion.] but it also has its own, unique sound. Mellow in melody, but still lyrically hard-hitting, Push is a call to keep going even when you’re losing faith.
- Off the Rails – Admittedly, when I saw this song title, I was scratching my head. But then I thought about it and it makes a lot of sense. It’s about trusting God completely and going “off the rails” in the sense of following Him when the world expects you to conform.
- Adrenaline – Clearly Exhale’s “party track”. It’s one of those tracks you have to hear to understand, and may have been a bit of a throwback to the band’s early days. It’s fun, and it rocks out and lives up to its name.
- Lifeline – Lifeline is a great song because it deals with how easy it is to get swept up in anger and how sometimes we can give in easily and fall prey to the consequences of our actions. It makes reference to the need to be rescued from those patterns (“How did I get here/Everything’s unclear/ I never meant to cause you pain/so give me a reason/I can believe in/I needed all this time/ Send me a lifeline”)
- Born Again- Trevor seems to be pointing out a lot of flaws on this track, but it’s to make a point. The song is written from the point of view of someone who knows he was a sinner, but has been changed. The last line of the chorus speaks to all of us as Christians “I’m just a man/That by grace/Was given a second chance/Feel like I’ve been born again”. I also absolutely love the bridge of this song, where Trevor addresses people who may have doubts.
- Honest- The final track of the album, a ballad, seems to be a fusion between Trevor’s own personal experiences, and things he’s seen others go through. It sounds like it was written at a point of struggle, and is easily the most raw, emotional track. Honest makes a perfect closure to the album and will definitely leave you thinkingSo what’s my final take?
Exhale is definitely a balanced album, much more so than Oxygen: Inhale was. If you’re a hardcore Krutch fan like me, it’s worth picking up. If I had to give a rating it would be 4 1/2 stars of 5. Have you listened to the album? What did you think? Leave me a comment and let’s discuss.God bless and see you next post!