The Art of Breaking
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2005 1 Jul
- Slow Bleed
- The Art of Breaking
- Hand Grenade
- Hit the Floor
- Make Me a Believer
- Breathe You In
Having sold more than 200,000 copies of their first two albums—
Now, TFK has undergone yet another music makeover, and it'll be interesting to see how fans respond to
To hear the change, listen no further than the opener "Absolute," combining pop verses with a throaty metal pre-chorus and an infectious rock chorus—you can almost imagine a classic metal band like Stryper handling this one. The virtually identical "Move" and "Go" both demonstrate that TFK has discovered the power of the mindless shout-along chorus, and the generally thunderous feel of those two tracks should still prove palatable to nü-metal fans. Those looking for this disc's breakthrough track—TFK's next "Rawkfist"—will probably latch on to the knockout "Hand Grenade," with old-school metal guitar licks and a high wail of a chorus that evokes Three Days Grace or The Darkness with less camp.
But many of the songs can become monotonous, if not overly repetitive. By the time "Hit the Floor" and "Go" come up, there's a sense of déjà vu with prior tracks. But "Hurt" stands out as a striking example of contrast. Much like a storm, it builds from a tense verse into a louder pre-chorus, only to drop the bottom out for a surprisingly tranquil chorus consisting only of piano and wispy vocals. The closing ballad "Breathe You In" also provides a welcome change in pace, though some might say it's stylistically more in step with the formulaic pop/rock of Building 429.
It's not just the music that's changed for TFK. Though the band members are very up front about their Christian faith, they've become considerably less explicit in expressing it lyrically. This is an artistic improvement to some extent, though it's almost to the point of vagueness in a few instances. "Go" could be interpreted as words of praise to God for completing us, but the chorus is almost incomprehensible in intent: "Go, when I feel, like I feel, the way I feel/Go, I'm into you, just help me find a way this time." The same is true with "Hit the Floor," which perhaps refers to falling prostrate in response to feeling God's presence. Even "Make Me a Believer" is a tad unclear in who it's directed to, despite the seemingly clear-cut title.
McNevan says the album's title refers to how we each respond in different ways to the breaking points in life. This is reflected thematically throughout the disc, such as the title track about a friend helping another cope with hurt before self-destructing. Likewise, "Stranger" could be understood as someone wrestling with sinful nature, and "Hand Grenade" similarly offers a prayerful plea from one who's close to self-destructing, presumably seeking guidance from above.
While the shout-along choruses and faintly spiritual lyrics should be enough to please most of TFK's large fan base, some will feel that too much has changed musically. On the other hand, some critics will say TFK's songs are still inane and formulaic, but others (like myself) will view this album as a step in the right direction. All to say, it's a good rock record, not a great one. The old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," is often used as justification to retread familiar artistic ground. With