Casting Crowns – “The Altar and the Door”

For a number of music lovers, Casting Crowns is the first (if not the greatest) contemporary Christian band that comes to mind. Their new album, “The Altar and the Door,” makes sacrifices in terms of sound and song structure, but proves how the band’s lyrical talent has evolved over the years.

The album opens with the explosive “What This World Needs.” Sporting a hard rock guitar riff and heavy drums and bass, this song may very well be their most upbeat. Unfortunately, it is probably the only song on the album that will make you bob your head from beginning to end.

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That’s not to say that the rest of the album is forgettable. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear “Somewhere in the Middle” and “The World Is Alive” on pop stations in the near future. The piano and viola in these songs are beautiful and Mark Hall’s voice reaches out inspiringly at every chorus.

Other songs, like “Every Man,” don’t have as much of a conventional praise feeling, but fans will appreciate Casting Crown’s newfound mellow vibe.

Listening to the songs without comprehending the lyrics would be like not listening to them at all. Every song tells a story that portrays a biblical theme. “East to West” questions the distance between right and wrong, and “Prayer for a Friend” tells of a person’s misguided companion who needs God’s assistance (Lord, I lift my friend to You/I’ve done all that I know to do).

Overall, the minor flaws are outweighed by the valuable Christian messages. Newcomers may feel a bit hungry for the band’s older material, but the group has certainly made a step forward in many important areas.

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