Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thousand Foot Krutch - The End Is Where We Begin Album Review

Believe it or not, but back in college (which, for me, was 1999 to 2003) I didn't have nearly as discerning of musical tastes as I do now. At any given point, you'd be able to hear the likes of Papa Roach, Saliva, Korn, or Drowning Pool blasting from within my dorm room. Today, a decade later, I wouldn't listen to those bands if given the choice, and some I even have a hard time stomaching even in a nostalgic fashion. There's no wistful gaze on my face when I hear "Click Click Boom," "Bodies," or "Last Resort." Instead I question how I ever listened to that garbage 100% unironically.

Even though I don’t feel any connection to individual songs from the heydays of nu-metal and rap-rock (and, in fact, revile most popular tracks), I do sometimes find myself craving something completely and horribly nu-metal-ish to jog my memory, unearthing some of those collegiate memories of yesteryear. As soon as The End Is Where We Begin's "We Are" kicked off, my memory wasn't just jogged--it was lit up by a bolt of old school lightning. Thousand Foot Krutch, with this album, have created an unabashed tribute to the nu-metal glory days.

Throughout the 12 songs on this album, all of the popular genres of the late 90's and early 00's are covered. I dare you to take one listen to "I Get Wicked" and tell me with a straight face that it's not something Disturbed would have written in their early days. Not only does it have the type of song title Disturbed would use, but the guitars use the stuttering style they overused and the chorus vocals sounds identical to David Draiman.

Or how about "Be Somebody"? You can't tell me that it doesn't remind you of just about every mid-tempo song 12 Stones ever wrote which, incidentally, is nearly every song they ever wrote. It's your standard modern power rock ballad that has since been perfected and regurgitated ad infinitum by Nickelback and Shinedown.

Now it should not be ignored that TFK has been at this game since the heyday I speak of, but never have they felt so in touch with the aesthetic of turn of the millennium popularized metal. "Light Up the Sky" is equal parts Rage Against the Machine-lite and P.O.D. The guitar lines in the chorus are a dead ringer for what RATM would have written on their more lazy days and the rap-rock of the rest of the track are even lazier day P.O.D.

TFK also, believe it or not, somehow manage to channel the boy bands of yore. "Courtesy Call" is a relatively nu-metal'ed up track, but the opening could is a dead wringer for something that could have been written by the Backstreet Boys. Then the rest of the song sounds like an odd mash-up of a pop anthem and any nu-metal band that ever got famous from doing a cover song.

So is all of this throwback styling good or bad? Well that depends on what lens you look through when evaluating the album. From a completely critical perspective, this is pretty close to one of the most derivative and uninspiring albums I've heard so far this year. From a personal perspective, however, TFK know how to get the nostalgic juices flowing. Unfortunately, the critical lens must take precedence because, as much as I want them to be, my experiences aren't your experiences. To most, there's going to be no connection to this sound or fond memories and without that connection, this is a pretty awful album.


buck09 said...

For some reason this review got all up in my head and launched a pro's and con's of David Draimen fight inside my head. For me, I never really liked Disturbed for his "oohwaa ah ah ahh" vocals, but rather thought the dude had a very strong voice and a lot of range for a rock singer. In personally liked their other not so popular songs a lot more than the radio play songs like Down with the Sickness. The band itself seems undeniably catchy for the style music, and when compared to their peers, I would rank them towards the top. People can talk all the trash they want on the band, and I agree with most of it, but there was always something about the band and their music that resonated with me, especially their album "Ten Thousand Fists", which is bar far my favorite album from them. I dunno, its kind of fun to compare what you listened to back then and now. I can agree on many negatives of the band and their peers which you mention in your review. Also, I quite enjoyed Drowning Pool with vocalist Ryan McCombs of Soil fame. I think that guy is an absolute beast. Now, if you compare this music to the music of the underground (underground to the common man, and music that you, me, and the smaller percentage of the total music listening population)it is a whole nother ballgame. Anyways, just preaching what this review brought to my mind. What are your "real" thoughts on Disturbed? And do you agree McCombs was a way better vocalist for Drowning Pool? I know the obvious answer, but are all of us "pretentiously" fooling ourselves out of admitting some of this stuff is pretty good music, whether it is sell-out commercialized rock or not?

Rick Gebhardt said...

I used to listen to Disturbed a lot. What eventually grated on me was actually Draimen's vocals. I just got sick of his voice after a while. I don't think he has a ton of range, actually.

As for Drowning Pool & Soil, I liked Soil's first album a lot, but not much after that. And I didn't like either incarnation of Drowning Pool actually. I ended up "listening" to them so much because they were a staple in a group of bands that got a lot of play in college in my social group and on the radio (you remember what that was, right?) :-)

buck09 said...

Ya, its weird how things change. I definitely feel the same way listening to Disturbed nowadays compared to back then. With Soil, it was all about the singer Ryan McCombs, who later did an album with drowing pool and I don't know where he is now. That guy could belt out some vocals. Haha, good times. As far as that Thousand Foot Krutch album, I in fact never listened to them much t all back in the day and the new album is pretty bad. Five Finger Death Punch is another band who I was really into with their first release and listening to them now, I feel regretful I ever liked them, but I can still tolerate some songs off their first album. :)