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Intersection of Life and Faith

Phenomenon

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 9 Sep
  • COMMENTS
Phenomenon
Sounds like … the rap/rock edge of Linkin Park, Pillar, and Limp Bizkit crossed with the nü-metal undertones of 12 Stones, Nickelback, and FuelAt a glance … TFK's Tooth & Nail debut is much better than its independent era, with quality production and song structuring, and lyrics appealing to its teen fans

When the members of Thousand Foot Krutch got together in 1997 during their high school years, the goal was more about having a great time and playing loud than it was about accomplished musicianship. But after a few years of playing everything from church basements to post-prom parties, vocalist Trevor McNevan, bassist Joel Bruyere, and drummer Steve Augustine realized the band could be so much more. Shortly after graduation, they recorded their indie debut Set It Off, a hip-hop driven rock record similar to the mainstream sounds of the time. Through tireless touring, the group sold the disc primarily at shows, racking up 60,000 sales in the United States alone! No wonder labels came courting TFK, which chose Tooth & Nail as its home.

Since then, TFK has landed a slot on the popular Festival Con Dios tour, worked with production genius Aaron Sprinkle (MxPx, Anberlin, Seven Places), and enjoyed increased national exposure. And deservedly so, because Phenomenon is mind-blowingly better than the group's first effort. TFK is destined for a successful run, bringing a positive, spiritually minded message for its listeners. The sound is best compared to chart toppers Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, especially on the opening title cut with its gritty guitars and powerful drum thuds accompanying rapcore vocals and hip-hop undertones. The subsequent "Step to Me" cranks up the guitars even more while McNevan switches between hushed angst and mighty roars on the verses and choruses.

"Last Words" and "Faith, Love, and Happiness" include aggressive nü-metal thrusts, akin to fellow hard rockers Nickelback and Fuel—though the lyrics are much more suitable to the teens TFK is trying to reach. "Last Words" tackles regret and failure in a relationship, while "Faith, Love, and Happiness" addresses the weight of a doubting world: "Everyone is falling away/Feel like they're stolen from me/Wish everything didn't happen to me/All I want is faith, love, and happiness." Even more gripping are the messages of loneliness without Christ on the bellowing "New Design," the need to witness boldly on the bone-crunching "Break the Silence," and a desperate cry of brokenness over the guitar slice of "Quicken." Meanwhile, the Fuel/Three Doors Down-inspired ballad "This Is a Call" suggests that a relationship with Christ leads to fulfillment over the world's emptiness.

Despite all the deserved props, there's one overall problem: This CD sounds too similar to many of the sounds currently in the mainstream. Although those sounds are MTV-friendly at the moment, the fickle buying public may not be looking for more rap/rock or nü-metal. In the mainstream market, sales in those genres are slipping significantly, while the emo/screamo or "guy with a guitar" movements continue climbing the sales charts. So it's hard to picture Phenomenon (especially cuts like "Rawkfist" and "Ordinary") sounding relevant for long.

That doesn't mean TFK will be cast aside once the hype settles or styles shift. If anything, its growth from Set It Off to Phenomenon shows the guys are more than capable of switching up the tone and developing with the current climate. (For that matter, so does their recent alternative rock side project, FM Static.) As long as TFK sticks to that mentality, they shouldn't have to worry about being lumped in the same scene that will eventually swallow Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park. Instead, as a continually evolving band, Thousand Foot Krutch can be poised for an impact on eternity.