Kutless' last studio recording, Hearts of the Innocent, was widely accepted by fans of all pop and rock, even though it showcased a bit of a harder sound than what was expected from the band. With their new release To Know That You're Alive, it seems the band wants to give more of a modern rock feel than ever before, yet more than half of the record's tracks can be considered as ballads. The intro track, "The Feeling," is a great way to kick off the album (in spite of its short length) but the powerful track isn't complimented by the random "Sleeping City" instrumental that leads into another rocker, the title track. It isn't a very good way to start off the album, and even pushing past that leads to more disappointment all the way around.
Highlights include songs like "The Disease and the Cure," the title track, "Overcoming Me," the screaming vocals of "The Rescue," and even "Loud." These tracks really spotlight Kutless' ability to rock the masses, but the rest of the record is chock full of slower songs and mediocre power ballads. This isn't helped by the short length of the harder tracks, some clocking in at under two and a half minutes. "I Do Not Belong" sounds like it will shape up to be a smash CCM radio hit (like something from Casting Crowns), and also sounds like a continuation of "Sea of Faces." "Dying to Become" is a track that has a slightly harder feel to it, but still keeps that power ballad sound, much to its disadvantage. Lyrically, Jon Micah Sumrall and the rest of the band have done a bit better, but some lyrics still seem cryptic and awkward. The choruses are overused on many of the softer songs, and lyrics like "You can try to turn me down, but I was born to be this loud, how can I be quiet now? I believe it and I want it" from "Loud" come off as boring and emotionless.
Overall, fans will undoubtedly find plenty to love here, particularly in the more melodic tracks, but listeners looking for more substance and a harder rock edge similar to Hearts of the Innocent won't find satisfaction on Kutless' new release. A record full of more misses than hits, To Know That You're Alive can be passed off as slightly less than mediocre.- Review date: 6/13/08, written by Justin Mabee
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