If Oxygen: Inhale was Thousand Foot Krutch’s focus on the intimate aspects of faith and life, Exhale is a bold proclamation of standing strong in their roots. This collection seems to be an experimentation in pushing the band’s limits while simultaneously respecting where they came from. It’s an explosion of hard rock, punk and hip-hop flavors that come at you full-tilt right out of the gate. Present and accounted for are all of the elements the true rock enthusiast could desire: a persistent, strong guitar presence; drums for days; and front man Trevor McNevan’s unique, unfettered vocal style.
Tracks like “Born Again,” “Off the Rails,” and “Different Kind of Dynamite” have the heavy energy that makes head banging nearly necessary. Some of the album’s best licks can be found in the solo for “Give Up the Ghost,” with the guitar work in “Running With Giants” giving it a run for its money. “Adrenaline” is a stark reminder that TFK was partially born by way of hip-hop influence. It is in-your-face McNevan spitting in-your-face proof he still has it. That b-boy sound is also resurrected on the track “Incomplete.” “Can’t Stop This” is bold and dangerous, pairing well with “The River” and “Push,” high-octane tracks in their own right.
Although the musical elements of Exhale could carry the album alone, McNevan’s message is reinforced on “Lifeline” and “Honest.” Here, those tracks take a moment to acknowledge that despite our greatest intentions and efforts, we cannot overcome this world without some help; in “Honest” especially, TFK makes that experience highly relateable.
In their songwriting, TFK eloquently nails the truth that life tends to be a very humbling experience, which often involves a lot of failing. We will all fail, but we’re never truly lost. Perhaps one of the more subtle — but important — aspects of the album is that McNevan doesn’t use canned or kitschy phrases to share their religious views. He controls the direction and centers it on conversations, and, with each track, each song drives home a different conversation to mull over.
This album is a lot of things: a pageantry of hard rock heavy hitters, a return to hip-hop roots, and a stance against anyone who gets in the way. Really, what more can you ask for from a rock record?