"I've been a fan of Kutless since 2004 and have heard every song they've ever done. That being said, I was expecting quite a bit from this album and while some of those expectations were met, some of them were not. There's enough here to keep me around for their next album, but not as much as I was hoping for/expecting. Most of the songs are too short, and there's a few that I wish they would have done more with. I def wouldn't buy this album in it's entirety but I would purchase several songs off it.
A small breakdown of the songs:
The Feeling - Great way to open the album, but it was too short.
Sleeping City - Great instrumental, but again it was too short.
TKTYA - Best song on the album, period. They didn't make this the title track for nothing. One of the best songs I've ever heard them play live as well. Def get this one.
TDATC - Would have been an even better song if they would have went with diff riffs/lines, but the bridge right before the breakdown [and the breakdown itself] near the end are awesome. Get this one.
Complete - I prefer the radio version cuz it's shorter and packs more of an emotional punch.
The Rescue - Great song, great vocals, great breakdown. Get this one.
Promise You - Great song that gives me chills [esp during the soloing] every time. Def get this one.
Guiding Me Home - I thought this was gonna be another 'All The Words'-type ballad, but I was pleasantly surprised when they took it in a diff direction. Get this one.
Overcoming Me - The only part I like about this song is the SHORT breakdown near the end. If they would have went with diff riffs/lines in this one, it prolly would have been better received by me.
I Do Not Belong - 2nd best song on the album, period. This is either the best or one of their best power ballads ever. Def get this one.
Loud - I wish they would have done more with this one.
Dying To Become - Think 'November Rain' by Guns And Roses. Great shredding/soloing in the middle of this song. Def another pleasant surprise. Def get this one.
You - Good closer to the album, but I wish they would have done more with it. Get this one.
I was expecting more, but I'm happy enough with the final product that I'll stick around and see how these songs sound live when the band starts playing them. Maybe they'll change up the ones that I feel they could have done more with for the better.
All that being said, these guys did what they felt the Lord was leading them to do with their music and I commend and respect them for that. I hope that they continue to go in the direction they're heading with this new album, but that next time they'll either go back to Aaron Sprinkle or find another producer who's all about the rock/metal.
The more I listen to this album, the more optimistic I become for their future records. I also can't wait to hear/see these songs being played live. Nick is pure energy when he gets on stage and there's no doubt in my mind that the dude is totally gonna shred his [and James'] guitars to pieces once they start jamming these songs out live!
Thanks for reading and I hope my review will help influence you to at least purchase a few songs from these guys. These are a group of guys who are truly after the Lord's Heart and I can't help but support and appreciate that. God Bless."
A "new" Kutless, and that's a good thing.
Nate McCooey | Lockport, NY United States | 07/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A lot has happened to the Portland, Oregon-based Christian rock band Kutless in the last two years since the release of their third studio album Hearts Of The Innocent. Founding guitarist Ryan Shrout left the group to spend more time caring for his infant daughter who had been diagnosed with a serious disease. The band's guitar technician Nick DePartee steps in to fill his shoes during live shows and eventually becomes a full-time member. Frontman Jon Micah Sumrall suffers some near career-ending injuries. All of this and more has contributed to a Kutless that sounds vastly different from what most of us have become accustomed to.
So how exactly does this "new" Kutless sound? In a word: amazing.
Certainly, you can tell that at the core this is still the same Kutless we know and love. However, this is far and away their most experimental and mature album released to date. The integration of new guitarist DePartee into the fold has brought a decidedly different sound to the band's music. I hate to describe it as "arena rock" because that almost always implies the 80's hair metal cheese factor, but it's easy to see what the band had in mind when writing these songs: to simply rock each and every arena they perform them in.
The album kicks off with "The Feeling," a short but tasty track that is more or less a call to arms for Kutless fans to come together and rock out for Christ. This track was available for free download from the band's website for a while, and it sounds like nothing they've ever done before. The instrumental piece "Sleeping City" follows, and although it too is rather short it is also beautiful and somewhat haunting at the same time. It blends into the album's title track, and like "The Feeling" this is one of the most rocking tracks the band has ever written. "The Disease and The Cure" is my second favorite on the album; it has an almost punk sound to it and the chorus will get stuck in your head after just one listen. Jon Micah also sings beautifully in the song's bridge. "Complete" comes next and although I don't think it was the greatest choice for a first single because it really doesn't represent the album as a whole, it's still a great song about how we truly are not whole without the love of Jesus in our lives. "The Rescue" is probably my least favorite song on the album, but that's only because Jon Micah's vocals sound a little too strained in the chorus for my liking. The rest of the track is amazing, especially the screaming and breakdown near the end. (Not to mention the very subtle synth hook that you have to listen closely for to hear.)
"Promise You" is one of the band's most lyrically poignant songs ever written. It has to do with a victim of domestic abuse and how crying out to the Lord has helped to empower this person to escape their tormentor, and even though "forgiveness can't take scars away" they "forgive them anyway." Very moving song and if you don't agree you must not have a pulse. "Guiding Me Home" comes next. Some I know have said that it sounds a bit too much like the title track from Sea of Faces, and I can see where they are coming from to a certain extent but it's still a beautiful ballad that manages to stand on its own. We will never deserve all of the grace and love that God has shown us, but He does so anyways. "Overcoming Me" is another hard-rocking track in the vein of "The Feeling" only better and slightly longer. The way Jon shouts "I'm standing in the pouring rain..." in the chorus sends chills up my spine. "I Do Not Belong" is, hands down, my favorite song on the album. Everything about it is perfect musically and lyrically. Our time on Earth is only temporary, and this song reinforces that message. "Loud" is more or less an abridged version of "Shut Me Out" from the HOTI album; the two songs are very similar from lyrical standpoint but this one is considerably shorter. "Dying To Become" is probably the most experimental track on the record. The piano that opens the song and each verse is awe-inspiring, and Jeff Gilbert's drumming is incredibly precise. Another reviewer here compared this song to the Guns 'N' Roses hit "November Rain," and I can definitely see the comparison musically. There's also a tasty guitar solo a little more than halfway through. The album closes with "You," a song that features some of the best vocal work from Jon Micah ever. This is certainly not one of those overly vague "God or my girlfriend" type of songs. Here, you can tell that Jon is singing about the Lord.
With this album, Kutless have proven that they really are a force to be reckoned with in the Christian rock scene. Personally, I believe they established that status four years ago with the Sea of Faces record, but this release definitely cements it. As I said before, you can tell this is a Kutless record at the core, but it's also a much better, slightly grown up Kutless record. And that certainly is a good thing."
Louie Bourland | Garden Grove CA | 07/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kutless has returned with "To Know That You're Alive", their first studio album since 2006's "Hearts of the Innocent". Besides being their first album with new guitarist Nick DePartee, "TKTYA" also finds the band stretching their melodic hard rock style into new territories and breaking new ground in the process. It almost seems as if Kutless had been working up to an album like this their entire career and finally reached it with abundance. Like always, Kutless's Christ-centred lyrics are at the forefront and singer Jon Micah Sumrall's voice is full of emotional delivery and passion. Also at the center of the music is some dynamic string arrangements which dominate a majority of the tracks. The use of strings is quite reminicent of some of the more recent music by bands like Skillet. Nearly every track on "To Know That You're Alive" is a standout. Among the many highlights are the title track and it's instrumental prelude "Sleeping City", "Complete", "The Rescue", "Guiding me Home" and the neo-progressive "Dying to Become" which is quite unlike anything Kutless has ever done. Hands down, this is yet another solid album from Kutless. The band has definitely has turned a corner with this album and has displayed a wealth of new musical ideas without compromising their Christ-centered message. "To Know That You're Alive" could very well be Kutless's best album to date."
Best All-Around Christian Rock Album
Alex-andre Bassett | 10/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw the cover of this album and liked the artwork and then sampled a few tracks. I loved a number of them and thought I'd buy the album. I can truly say I got more than I bargained for with this purchase. I really love the orchestral ballads (Dying To Become), the smooth songs and the harder hitting songs. This is my first Kutless album but I will definitely get their next one. I wanted a hardcore album but I found that I appreciated the great balance of alternative and hard rock themes and lyrics used in this album. Truly an excellent album."