Ok, first off, I'm letting you all know that this is an honest, unbiased review. I always try to review the product, and not give a 5 star just because I totally love the author, band, artist, etc.
I loved Casting Crowns previous cds: 'Casting Crowns', 'Lifesong', 'The Altar and the Door', and 'Peace on Earth' so I was eagerly anticipating their newest release, especially since the coming a new member. However, I was sadly disappointed.
Casting Crowns is well known for their honest, raw, pull-no-punches songs that shoot straight at the heart of the church, seeing past all masks and hypocrisies. This is their huge advantage, as it's unique, yet this album lacks this but for 2 songs: 'Until the Whole World Hears', and 'If We've Ever Needed You'. I think it's a mostly mutual feeling that their praise and worship style is not their strong point, yet on this album that's all they give, minus the above previously mentioned songs. Once you get past them, the rest of the album falls flat, and is a very weak attempt at the praise and worship style.
One thing that made Casting Crowns such a hit was their honest, down-to-earth, unique quality. That has now been exchanged on this album for a praise and worship, ordinary style that just isn't worth the price.
Don't get me wrong, I love praise and worship. But I can get that when I pick up some Chris Tomlin, Michael W Smith, Matt Redman, etc. and they do a much better job. That was never the reason I supported Casting Crowns; the reason I loved their works were because they spoke to me and convicted me.
Other times their songs spoke of encouragement during hard times, never giving up, etc. Yet all this is gone, replaced by flat, emotionless songs which leave me with disappointment rather than a message, and boredom rather than conviction. The album could have been saved if the songs were memorable, such as Chris Tomlin's 'Holy is the Lord', or Matt Redman's 'Heart of Worship', but they aren't. The lyrics are same old, and the music itself has a harsher ring to it than before.
Another thing that greatly bothered me was the presence of a U2 song which is the hidden track at the end. On an album which they state as being a message to spread the gospel until the whole world hears, this definitely does not belong, being a secular song.
The quality and character of the music has greatly diminished, absolutely nothing compared to the former glories such as 'If We Are the Body', 'Voice of Truth', 'Who Am I', 'Praise You in this Storm', 'Somewhere in the Middle', 'What If His People Prayed', and 'Stained Glass Masquerade'.
I expected more. There is still a message for them to preach, it was exchanged for a watered down, complacent style that is no more unique.