Thousand Foot Krutch fans left holding their breath

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Jeff Neukom

 

You’re waiting for a train. A train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you can’t know for sure. Yet it doesn’t matter. Why doesn’t it matter? It doesn’t matter because, as Leonardo Dicaprio’s psychotic wife implores in Inception, you’ll be together in the end.

This sentiment explained my relationship with Thousand Foot Krutch, the Christian rap-rockers from Toronto, until their latest record, Oxygen: Inhale. I found myself questioning if, indeed, I could trust where this train would take me.

In interviews over the summer, the band made it clear that they were excited about what they had put together. Lead singer Trevor McNevan wouldn’t go as far as to call it a “concept album,” but he did say that there was a common thread running through it: “Breathe through Me.” Their goal was to show that they try to breathe through God in all that they do, and they hoped to help fans do the same.

If my level of excitement wasn’t high enough, McNevan told fans that this album would be something fans had never seen before. Short videos previewed driving riffs from bassist Joel Bruyere and dizzyingly high notes from McNevan. The band also hinted that this release might be their heaviest to date. I made the mistake of thinking that “heaviest to date” meant more than a handful of tracks on their latest train ride.

Ultimately, Oxygen: Inhale’s downfall parallels that of its predecessor, 2012’s The End is Where We Begin. Its most outstanding flaw arises, ironically, from the passion the band poured into making it. The three members were so caught up in the theme that they left little time to develop lyrical or instrumental depth. This formula resulted in repetitive choruses that drilled the band’s message ad nauseum.

With Oxygen: Inhale, the band members committed themselves to expanding their musical horizons, but alas, it comes off as a bit much. Front-man Trevor McNevan reaches new highs with his falsetto, but after four straight featherweight songs, I found myself unable to appreciate the vocal progress he’d made.

In the same way that The End is Where We Begin bludgeoned me over the head with repetitive, overcooked choruses, Oxygen: Inhale exhausted me with McNevan’s high notes. His falsetto became an annoyance instead of an accomplishment because the band failed to spread the slow songs throughout the record (and perhaps swap one or two out for harder hitting ones).