Sound — 9
I'd say the band has definitely made some changes since their early days. You could already hear the changes that a band will typically experience when acquiring new members in Hearts of the Innocent, but that change is usually more apparent on the second album with new members. Such is the case with this most recent album by Kutless. I'd have to say the change is definitely positive. They have a harder edge on the songs meant to sound hard and their softer moments add a nice transition. I won't be cliche in saying that the heavier parts are or harder and the softer parts are softer, but the transitions are definitely stronger and the hard stuff really does sound a bit heavier. There a few heavy breakdowns which sound a bit more metal oriented rather than the grungy pounding that would serve for their usual bridges and breakdowns. The drumming and guitar skills seem to be a bit higher this time around as I hear some more interesting riffs and some well placed drum parts going on. Although, the simple lead lines are starting to get tired as that is all they ever do and they are capable of better parts. Jon does a good job singing as usual, but only complaint is his rather forced upper range. He is trying to sing out of his usual Seattle influenced range, but it sounds a bit forced for lack of better word. His screams add a nice touch to the heavy music though. All in all it's a solid effort sound wise.
Lyrics — 8
Here's the thing with Kutless lyrics. There really aren't any profound or metaphorical lyrics going on. The messages are presented in clear, uncomplicated wording. His vocabulary isn't elementary by any means, but he doesn't go out of his way to weave mysterious prose out of his lyrics. I think this is a good thing for this kind of band though. They have a clear message that they want to proclaim loudly yet politely. It might bother people who aren't into embracing or entertaining issues of faith or how it correlates with life, but that simply leaves all the people who are interested to sift through it. In the grand scheme of lyrical profundity and artistic representation could it be better? Absolutely, but there is some charm to them and an honesty and passion that makes them work with the music. As far as the singing goes, Jon is a good singer. I will give him his dues where they are due. He presents the lyrics in a clear and strong voice. There moments where he is hitting some higher notes than previously sung. It's good to push oneself to improve, but I feel like he wasn't quite comfortable enough to ace the higher singing in some parts, but it worked pretty good. It simply took away from the slower songs a bit in my opinion, but it's still decent.
Overall Impression — 9
Kutless is one of those bands. They sound like a lot of bands, but they still sound like Kutless. Sometimes this is a bad thing, and sometimes this is a good thing. I feel like their uniqueness falls into the good category. Great tracks to me are the opening track with it's rock and roll drive, To Know That You're Alive, The Disease and the Cure, Complete, The Rescue, and Overcoming Me. The other songs are good to me as well, but I particularly enjoy those. I don't actually hate anything about the album and for the most part rather enjoy. I would get it again if I lost it.