To Know That You're Alive

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Album photography for To Know That You're Alive, the fifth studio effort from grunge-pop rockers Kutless, shows the five-piece strolling through picturesque London locales -- the elegant, monochromatic shots could lead some to believe the group has gone the way of Brit-pop. Not so fast. While the band did make a trek across the pond to record with the London Session Orchestra, the music hasn't endured a mass makeover. If anything, To Know that You're Alive is more of the same Creed-meets-Nickelback-meets-3 Doors Down methodology of records past, except grander and with an even higher melodic quotient. The more populist approach is helped in part by the involvement of three-time MercyMe producer Pete Kipley, a bona fide adult contemporary expert who makes sure Kutless keeps rocking, but not to the extent that it alienates the thousands who discovered them post-Strong Tower, the group's best-selling worship album. It's with that audience in mind that huge anthems like "Complete," "Promise You," and "Guiding Me Home" exist -- the latter is actually a dead ringer for Daughtry's "Home," right down to its title. That's not to say Kutless doesn't attempt the unattempted. The occasional classic rock riff ("The Feeling"), new wave synths ("Overcoming Me"), experimentation with dynamics ("Dying to Become"), and symphonic interlude ("Sleeping City") are a testament that the band is trying its best to outgrow the post-grunge criticisms that have dogged them since their inception. For the most part they succeed, but their points of reference are still too overly familiar to help them come from under the shadow of drone-heard corporate rock.

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