Written by: Abby Baracskai (6/14/2016)
Everyone knows that saying “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? Well I believe TFK has put this phrase into action with this album. Something about the band just stays the same throughout their music and it works. You know when you listen to TFK, you’re in for good ol’ rock n’roll and vast vocal ranges and techniques. TFK has their own sound and they’re sticking to it and repping it well. And somehow they continue to do it over and over again and create different albums. Exhale is no exception here. The moment the first track began playing, I felt the TFK vibe throughout my body.
I think the one thing that always keeps me on my toes with TFK is that their lyrics are so abstract and don’t have a straightforward meaning. My interpretation of the lyrics and their personal meaning to me seem to change as I experience new things and go through different situations. For example, their radio hit “Running with Giants” is played often and I’ve listened to it many times. I love the classic grunge kind of sound it has with the ripping guitars and powerful drums, but the lyrics are a different story. The first time I took it quite literally and thought “What the heck? What does running around with giants have anything to do with God?” But as I listened to it again for this review, the lyrics painted more of transcendent lyrical picture. To me, “running with giants” meant that we are all walking around this earth with our own struggles that seem unbearably large and no matter where we go, they’re right there behind us, even if we try to run away from them. The line “I’m not on my own,” spoke to the fact that even though we have these things, God is here with us and will never leave us. Quite a weird concept to get from a song talking about what you are, what you aren’t, and a chorus talking about giants, but it shows the pure art form that good song writing can create.
This theme continues on to “Give up the Ghost,” the next song I want to talk about. The eerie opening is chilling and the effects placed on the vocals along with the vocal range used matches the mood perfectly. When I listened to this song, I rolled my eyes and sighed at the fact that I went from listening to them talk about to giants and now about ghosts. I was seriously beginning to question this album. As I continued to listen, a message began to form in my head. I believe the song is talking about your past weighing down on you and are “ghosts” in a sense because they tend to just linger around you. The chorus talks about the moment when you finally decide to give these “ghosts” up to Jesus and let Him take control of your life. These “ghosts that [have] haunt[ed] me, have been outhaunted” by the love Christ has for us, and the freedom He offers in His salvation.
Rocking and rolling a little deeper into the album with “Lifeline.” The song comes right out of the gates with thrashing guitars and drums. It features variance in vocal volume that adds flair and provides a greater impact on stressed lyrics. To me, the meaning of the song is that we recognize that there are things that push our buttons and we want to do what’s right an endure the hard times and not to give up, which causes us to need some sort of lifeline. Sadly, the song doesn’t flat out say that the lifeline needed to help fix everything is Christ, but it does point out that there is a necessity of having something greater than yourself in this life.
I didn’t want to only focus on the first half of the album songs, but I have to talk about “Incomplete.” The intro is hard hitting and the overall sound is awesome. There’s a perfect distinction between choruses, verses, and bridges, which really helps make the song an entire package. The different vocal techniques used spices up the listening experience as well. The song is anthem-like with the continual usage of “we” throughout the song. It points out the similarities we have to one another despite differences (which is usually what the world focuses on the tear us apart) and comes to unite a crowd together. I believe the message is that we are all a broken people lifting up our incomplete selves to Christ to have Him help make us whole. The song doesn’t directly say this, but it’s my interpretation of the lyrics.
Overall, the album brings rock right to your front door in various heights and levels. There is a lot of musical talent in this album and I really appreciate the effort they’ve put into this. The quality of the musical aspects of the album may be magnificent, but the lyrics can be a little lackluster. The main downfall is that the lyrics don’t give as great of an impact as I believe they could, which brings down the quality of the songs and the potential they have to be life changing.
Some of the songs are hard to understand due to the pace of the vocals. Some songs don’t make sense at all until you listen to them multiple times. A listener might be turned off by confusion and not listen to the song again. Personally, the rock on this kicks you in the face and I couldn’t be happier about that, but I’m really missing a homerun Christian lyrical song. I believe TFK appeals, and has appealed, to the secular and the Christian market and sometimes that takes away the deeper more powerful meanings to their songs. I appreciate the openness of the lyrics and how a listener can interpret a song based on their personal experiences, but I also don’t want my brain to explode trying to figure out how giants, ghosts, and dynamite play into the message of a loving God. Another observation is that there is only one slower and calmer song featured on the album, which leaves it lacking a little variance in that aspect, but the song that is slower and more emotional is impactful (“Honest”). So although the album isn’t my favorite overall, I applaud them for staying true to themselves, their music, and to God.
Released: June 17, 2016
- Running With Giants (4:08)
- Incomplete (3:26)
- Give Up The Ghost (4:21)
- A Different Kind of Dynamite (2:58)
- The River (3:22)
- Push (4:20)
- Off The Rails (3:44)
- Adrenaline (3:23)
- Lifeline (3:38)
- Can’t Stop This (3:55)
- Born Again (3:33)
- Honest (4:10)
12 Tracks, 44:58
Buy on iTunes
More from Thousand Foot Krutch:
- Set It Off (2001)
- Phenomenon (2003)
- The Art Of Breaking (2005)
- The Flame In All Of Us (2007)
- Welcome To The Masquerade (2009)
- Live At The Masquerade (2011)
- The End Is Where We Begin (2012)
- Metamorphosiz: The End Remixes Vol. 1 (2012)
- Metamorphosiz: The End Remixes Vol. 2 (2013)
- Made In Canada: The 1998-2010 Collection (2013)
- Oxygen: Inhale (2014)
- Exhale (2016)
Links for Thousand Foot Krutch: