Sometimes the most ambitious artistic breakthroughs are birthed out of the most unexpected circumstances, or more accurately in the case of Kutless’ To Know That You’re Alive, a painfully annoying accident. Having front man Jon Micah Sumrall tear his shoulder might seem like an unlikely muse for songwriting and sonic sculpting- especially considering the band’s sold over 1.5 million CDs, performed in front of nearly two million fans and conquered Christian radio with numerous singles since its debut in 2002- but it results in one of the band’s most immediate, expressive and aggressive discs to date.
“On the last record Hearts of the Innocent, we wanted to bring awareness and encourage young people to get involved and make a difference in this world,” the tunesmith recalls. “On this record, we’re really trying to reach out and help them through difficult situations and difficult times to find hope, and ultimately, find fulfillment in life.”
Of course, that means of personal gratification can only come in Christ, which is a thread that runs through the record’s potent emotional framework, regardless of radio format. For the contemporary-minded crowd, “Complete” channels the idea that everyone has a God shaped hole inside their heart that can only be filled through faith, not to mention a daily walk with the Lord. For those more inclined to pump their fists, “The Feeling” (offered as a free, pre-release single download, flanked by endless internet buzz) is a rollicking romp that’s sure to connect in concert, but is anchored around the common goal of lifting one’s voice to bring glory to God. “Promise You” also leans towards the rock faction of Kutless’ fan base, diving deep into the darkness of spousal abuse and serving as an anthem for the victims to rise above their circumstances.
For every dynamic topical shift, To Know That You’re Alive is packed with the band’s boldest artistic statements to date, stemming in part from work with producer Pete Kipley (The Afters, MercyMe, Phil Wickham). The guys also added extra fuel to the fire by packing their bags for London and setting up shop in the famed Abbey Road Studios (The Beatles) to record several spacious string sections.
But above all the instrumental intricacies, astute session players, behind the scenes shenanigans and the sheer enjoyment derived from making To Know That You’re Alive, Sumrall insists its all about impacting others and helping them reach the hopeful realization he faced during those long and lonely days of mending.
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Solid Rock Worship Album| Posted December 02, 2008 Kutless is a band I've enjoyed since their self-titled debut album in 2002, in particular the songs Run and Your Touch which are biblical and having seen the band live, are full of emotional energy. Arguably, I felt they've improved with each of their following albums Sea Of Faces, Strong Tower and Hearts of The Innocent, which I rated a top 10 album of 2006.
To Know That You're Alive is yet another solid rock worship album but not quite another improvement over previous work in my opinion. The opening track The Feeling is a nice rock anthem with biblical lyrics, as are the other stand-out tracks Complete and the title track, which is the closest to my favorite Kutless song Not What You See. My ultimate review is that those 3 songs were quickly added to my Kutless playlist, along with I Do Not Belong and You, which are both solid power ballads, but unlike the last 2 albums, there weren't more songs that really stood out to me. If you liked their previous work, you should like this album which for me is 75% out of 100%, 3 1/2 stars.
Kutless [To Know That You're Alive]| Posted October 07, 2008 [MAIN REVIEW]
Kutless brings you their sixth album To Know That You’re Alive. This album is truly inspiring and powerful, with a rock style and feel. This album will not let you down, it is still the same Kutless we have fallen in love with; with the same great message that one can expect and hope for.
Track 1—“The Feeling” “We cannot run away”…we cannot run away from our feeling, our calling, our purpose. Our light needs to spread throughout the world, for we are the light of the world. We need to turn it up: our voices, our wisdom, and our obedience. Scream what we know.
Track 2—“Sleeping City” is an introduction to track 3 “To Know That You’re Alive”.
Track 3—“To Know That You’re Alive” This song to me, refers to the crucifixion of Jesus.
“Right now you’re bruised and bleeding / I see the good in your eyes / I know your pain is for a reason / Need the feeling just to know that you’re alive.”
The question is, are you looking for something real, something new, better, or even life-changing? Well our Lord and Savior, Jesus is the answer. It just takes faith to believe in something you cannot see.
Track 4—“The Disease & the Cure” Your disease is sin, bondage, temptation, and the mind of the world; the cure is Jesus: he will provide you with freedom, peace, love, and everlasting life.
Track 5—“Complete” This song is about your life-changing moment; it is surrender saying I am totally yours. It shows a burning fire, fire for God upon your life wanting to run to the lost and tell them how good our Lord and Savior truly is, for all you have to do is ask Him in your life, He completes you.
Track 6—“The Rescue” Is your life on a path of destruction, looking to turn it all around to life of peace. Well you can say goodbye to all your pain and bondage, for Jesus is waiting for you with loving arms and He cares about you and everyone else…always.
Track 7—“Promise You” “Waiting on the sun to arise and make the darkness go away” This is a metaphor for the darkness and turmoil in ones life and when the light shows, darkness must flee.
1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” NKJV.
Track 8—“Guiding Me Home” We are nothing without Jesus; we cannot do it without Him, for we are lost without Him. This song says, “…it is grace that defines who I am, You say that you love me always and forever, You say that you love me I know I will never, deserve all the love that you show, it’s the light that is guiding me home.”
Track 9—“Overcoming Me” This song is a good song, it talks about how you do not want Jesus to leave your side and you cannot stop him from overcoming you.
Track 10—“I Do Not Belong” You do not belong in this world, doing worldly things. You belong in the arms of God, moving to as close as possible to perfection. For one day you will go home, where you belong.
Track 11—“Loud” Nothing should ever silence you from telling others about God, you should be free and not ashamed for who you truly are.
Track 12—“Dying to Become” You are wanting to become like your heavenly father, Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 5:1 says we are to be imitators of God.
Track 13—“You” This song talks about the goodness, splendor, and glory of God and how he is always on your mind, the one that you dream of. For he is the love you can always count on.
This album is truly a blessing and I sincerely encourage every one to listen to it at least once and hopefully it will mean something to you and touches your life just as it has touched mine. Also, I encourage you to listen to previous Kutless albums for they are very rewarding to listen to. You can check out the other reviews right hear on www.christianmusicreview.org.
Colossians 1:16 says that all things were created through Jesus and for Him. This tells me that we are made for Jesus and that everything is going to be alright for we are in His hands.
The "feeling" isn't quite right about this album| Posted July 07, 2008
Kutless’ latest effort, To Know that you are Alive hit the top twenty on ITunes, and the single “the feeling” is getting more airplay, their newest album certainly looks like it will be another hit for the rock group. But that doesn’t guarantee that it will be a solid album, as Kutless has been known for underachieving with their basic rock tunes.
The music To Know that you are Alive is obviously rock, and very solid, and refined rock at that. What’s the problem? Sadly not much has changed since Hearts of the Innocence and Kutless’ newest album. The opening song “The feeling” rocks loudly from start to finish, as it has an exceptional chorus, and the title track also is a heavy rock song with a good flow. Unfortunately both of those songs sound too similar, a problem that reoccurs on the album. Another frustrating thing in their album is “dying to become”; the song blends a great tune with a good music, until they get to carried way with the electric guitar making the song only so-so.
“Complete” is a rock worship song that is impressive, and “overcoming me” is another solid rock tune, but neither are nothing new to rock music, or even Kutless fans. One head scratching song is “sleeping city” which is just instrumental; the music is nice yes but the point of the track is missed. A sense of emergency is fused with “Disease and the cure” which is a heaviest song that unfortunately lacks a defining chorus. “Guiding me home” is the lightest song on the album, as the music has more emotion to than others, and “promise you” is another soft rock tune that is basic but solid.
Kutless keeps eternity in focus on To Know that you are Alive whether the singer is admitting that only in God can he be “complete” or understanding that this world is not his home on “I do not belong”(‘This world is not my home/I’m a stranger in this land’). But some of their lyrics get a little cliché and trend on already plowed roads. “Overcoming me” states ‘just need you to love me’ and “guiding me home” says ‘You say that You love me always and forever’. “Disease and the cure” contemplates the infection of sin and what overcomes it, and lead singer Jon Micah Sumrall sings about “dying to become” like Jesus Christ.
Strong song writing shows up on “Promising you” which it deals with bitterness and forgiveness over a bad friendship (‘I can’t deny these thoughts of hate/The poison adding to my shame/Forgiveness can’t take scars away/But I forgive you anyway’). “To know that you are alive” isn’t about God like perhaps the title suggests (‘I know your pain is for a reason/You need to feel just to know that you’re alive’) and “you” is a basic worship song. Overall the lyrics are not bad yet they don’ reflect much growth.
Kutless’ rock music didn’t quite get out of the shadow on their worship album Strong Tower on Hearts of the innocent. And To Know that you are Alive probably won’t either. The music isn’t that much different than on Hearts of the Innocent and if any change was made about the lyrics, it went backwards. Not a bad album for Kutless, but the lack of anything new to offer will probably not make To Know that you are Alive the album fans wanted.
Don't believe what others have said!| Posted June 23, 2008
I pre ordered this from MusiChristian.com and I actually got it today, the day before it came out.
Several other sites gave this one a so-so review but it's one of my favorite Kutless albums. It has the great vocals and spiritual lyrics I've come to expect from this group. "The Desease & The Cure" along with "Complete" are two of my favorite songs on this recording. It's true that a few songs have a slower sound than the rest but all in all this is my favorite summer release so far!
[To Know That You're Alive] Kutless
To Know That You're Alive �(BEC Recordings)
Released June 2008
By Russ Breimeier
Sounds like … Nickelback, Jeremy Camp, Daughtry, Red, Disciple, and Skillet with the occasional pop ballad amid the band's heavy-but-melodic rock style.
At a glance … the sixth major release from Kutless finally shows some signs of development in the band's sound and songwriting, but they still demonstrate a tendency toward overused Christian rock themes and formulas.
1. The Feeling
2. Sleeping City
3. To Know That You're Alive
4. The Disease and the Cure
6. The Rescue
7. Promise You
8. Guiding Me Home
9. Overcoming Me
10. I Do Not Belong
12. Dying to Become
13. You �
Contrary to what some of the band's most dedicated fans believe, Christian Music Today has given generally favorable reviews to Kutless (their flimsy worship album notwithstanding). Steeped in post-grunge pop-metal back when it was all the rage, this band has still remained highly popular, having sold 1.5 million albums since their 2002 debut. But then, the problem with Kutless has never been a matter of sounding good. Much like Nickelback, the band's polished rock style has become passé in six years time. Is it too much to expect some growth from Kutless?
Interestingly enough, Kutless also thinks they're ready for growth. In a letter included with their press kit, the band recognizes that they've had their share of high points and mistakes in their career. Now that they're older—and presumably a little wiser—they're finally making some significant changes in an attempt to go beyond the "standard Kutless record" with their sixth major release in six years, To Know That You're Alive.
For starters, the band is now writing more songs together, rather than relying solely on lead singer Jon Micah Sumrall. New guitarist Nick DePartee brings his skills to the music, while bassist Dave Leutkenhoelter and drummer Jeff Gilbert continue to gel as a rhythm section. Additionally, Kutless has finally made the switch from longtime producer Aaron Sprinkle to a rather surprising choice: Pete Kipley, best known for his work with MercyMe and The Afters. Not exactly a guy known for helming hard rock projects, but then again, it proves a good fit considering that Kutless embraces more melody and strings on this album, even recording part of it at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London.
Never fear, fans. Alive offers some of the band's most hard-rocking material to date, such as the hard-hitting "The Disease and the Cure," a song that points to Jesus for relief from sin and temptation. "Overcoming Me" also has some serious rock drive to it, not to mention a little synth hook uncharacteristic of the band's sound.
At the same time, Kutless introduces a more melodic, mid-tempo rock feel with "Complete," an anthem of surrender delivered with piano and strings—the sort of song MercyMe and Sanctus Real would more typically perform, yet the change in feel is not unwelcome to this band's repertoire. Also, the worshipful and flowing album closer "You" is pure pop, and has more texture than the more routine acoustic ballad that typically finishes similar projects.
Kutless even shows a willingness to experiment beyond simple rock and pop conventions, with mixed results. Their instrumental "Sleeping City" hearkens back to the ambience heard on the band's 2004 release Sea of Faces, and might have been interesting and meaningful if it lasted more than a minute or were coupled with another song elsewhere on the album (and not up front). Far more promising and pleasing is "Dying to Become," which toys with newfound musicality all around, from the big effects-heavy drumming at the start to the beefy guitar solo in the middle.
If only the band were as adventurous with their songwriting, the one area where Kutless still sounds like a novice fresh off the youth group tour circuit, relying on simplistic themes and phrasing that has grown formulaic in Christian rock. If it weren't for the strings underscoring their sound, "The Rescue" is the sort of post-grunge power ballad about crying out to a Savior that we've heard time and again on CHR stations for the last five years. Their equally melodic power ballad "Guiding Me Home" is also a bit too familiar and clichéd sounding in its expression of comfort and direction through Jesus. On the other end of the spectrum, "Loud" is the usual "how can we be silent" rocker, while "The Feeling" is a two-minute throwaway that's little more than a "let's get together and rock" show opener.
Two other songs contrast where Kutless falls short and where they excel. The title track is meant as an encouraging rock ballad about appreciating what God has given us as we endure life's trials, but the song's limited scope only offers empathy for pain without ever introducing the intended theme of thankfulness. Contrast that with the far more effective "Promise You," a powerful anthem about overcoming domestic abuse. This song explores the subject with themes of empowerment and forgiveness, relating the hurts without sounding bitter and pointing victims to Jesus without sounding trite.�
There are certainly some glimpses of growth here, but the band's slight modifications fail to amount to significant change. In the few places where the stylistic shifts are most noticeable, it's as if Kutless has stopped emulating their past work, only to resemble what peers like Red, Skillet, and Disciple have been doing for years. At least Kutless recognizes the need for change, and makes some good moves with To Know That You're Alive. Even so, true growth should be reflected more in songwriting than production.
Kutless is an amazing worship band and every word in every song that they have produced is 100% true. but this album especially has helped me in not only my own life but it has helped me give strength to friends of mine who don't know Christ and are suffering. To Know that Your Alive is my biggest help. Thank you so much Kutless!
Love it!| Posted August 30, 2009
I love this CD!!! I wasn't to into Kutless until i heard this. I had the song Strong Tower and never took the time to look at anything else cause im more of a rock guy and i thought they were always like that sound... The I got The Feeling on Rock Band 2 and was proven wrong! I love this CD!
ROCK ON!!!!!!!| Posted February 03, 2009
I had been listening to this album on spiralfrog for a while and was LOVING IT! I finally bought the album this past weekend and have been nothing but thoroughly satisfied! They have a quality rock sound, while portraying the GOOD message of Christ! Keep rockin on! Lookin forward to the next album!
Favorites are "The Feeling" and "To Know That You're Alive".