Sound — 7
Casting Crowns are a contemporary Christian rock group, who first found their way into the mainstream following a handful of independently released studio albums back during the early 2000s. The band's soft rock approach to the Christian rock genre was nothing groundbreaking, however Casting Crowns managed to add enough of their own personality to their performance to allow themselves to stand out, while gathering numerous accolades in the process. Casting Crowns first found commercial success following the release of their self-titled debut album back in 2003, which spawned a number of chart climbing singles including "If We Are the Body" and "Who Am I."
Casting Crowns' influence on melody-driven choruses and lyrical content appealed to those established Christian rock listeners, and quickly brought the band's debut effort to double platinum certification. Since then, Casting Crowns have released a now grand total of ten studio albums, which have in turn spawned more than a dozen successful singles and sold over five million copies. One year since the release of their last studio effort, "The Acoustic Sessions: Volume One," and Casting Crowns have returned with their recently released album, entitled "Thrive."
Despite its title which hints at musical progression from within the band's songwriting chemistry or new musical directions, "Thrive" for the most part shows Casting Crowns continuing to deliver the same style of music previously found throughout their earlier efforts. From the standpoint of a familiar listener, there's nothing wrong with a band continuing in the same style which made them so appealing in the first place. Regardless of which musical genre a particular band specializes in, it's commonly embraced for a group to remain true to their original sound, especially as opposed to trying their hand at bizarre new elements or styles. However, after coming off of Casting Crowns' previous two studio efforts which showed the band triumphantly moving into new territory while keeping a familiar quality to their new compositions, "Thrive" fails to live up to its preset expectations. Regardless, there is still plenty of material found throughout this effort which has the ability to appeal to dedicated fans, such as the title track "Thrive" which showcases familiar vocal melodies and complimentary acoustic guitar work ala Mumford & Sons. "Broken Together" is an emotional piano ballad with minute yet noticeable touches of autotune, while lyrically centered around moving away from the emotional scars of your past and focusing on the present. "Heroes" is an inspirational track about finding the courage to go out and face whatever life has waiting for you, whereas "Just Be Held" is about how all your current hardships will soon pass and you will be stronger because of them.
Lyrics — 7
Casting Crowns' new studio album "Thrive" continues to showcase the band's bold vocal harmonies, which particularly stand out against the quiet strums of acoustic guitar and delicate piano work. The band's three piece vocal section of lead vocalist Mark Hall, Megan Garrett and Melody DeVevo do a formidable job at attributing some memorable melodies throughout these twelve new recordings. All of the album's lyrics are centered around inspirational, upbeat themes, similar to those present on Casting Crowns' earlier efforts. As an example of the lyrics on this album, here are a few lines from "Thrive": "Here in this worn and weary land/ Where many a dream has died/ Like a tree planted by water/ We will never run dry."
Overall Impression — 7
While Casting Crowns don't move into any new ground on their new studio album "Thrive," what the band does do is return to their roots and return with a new collection of songs driven by melody, inspirational lyrics and delicate instrumental work. Any dedicated Casting Crowns fan should have no problem connecting with this album just as they so have on the band's earlier efforts.