Thousand Foot Krutch’s 2009 release Welcome to the Masquerade created a cohesive rock community with its polarizing formula. It dragged listeners to the highest extremes with its hard rock anthems, some of which featured a hip-hop semblance. But it also built the foundation for radio-ready rock with power ballads, soaking them in faith-filled waters and hanging them out to dry in the midst of its pulsating guitar tones and drums. With the band’s follow-up, The End Is Where We Begin, the lethal combination is back, but nothing has changed much. Though this formulaic sound is seemingly satisfying, I can tell that it’s starting to burn out on TFK.
A neat intro takes a swan dive straight into the booming guitar tones of “We Are” that the band has developed from over a decade of rocking. Just like artists such as Breaking Benjamin, the guitar has the cool ability to bludgeon the listener with its too-big-for-its-britches elements of metal and rock. The first thing I could tell, however, is that the melodies sound much too similar to those off of the band’s previous effort. Sadly, this song – a doppelganger of the title track off Masquerade – is a total miss and a huge bummer. The chorus is very dry and the song features nothing too exciting but a bunch of chunky nu-metal-tinged melodies.
However, the following song sees the band come back into their groove. “Light Up the Sky” exemplifies the anthemic qualities that make TFK stand out from the like of Papa Roach and Skillet. Vocalist Trevor McNevan brings the heat with his angsty rap-core style, layering himself briskly out in front of pulverizing guitars and soaring melodies. He brings more of a rap influence in this record than any other offering since Set It Off, which is the main alteration of a hard rock formula that, though not always incredibly enticing, feels very polished.
The record continues in a wavy curve between songs that are worthwhile and songs that are skippable. The title track is another weak song; though the strings in the intro are nice, the song struggles to get off the ground. But to balance things out, “Let the Sparks Fly,” the “Fire It Up” of this album, is an adrenaline rush to the senses. It should be blasted in hockey arenas and football stadiums across the country for the next few years. If that song redeems all of the filler heard in the first third of the album, “I Get Wicked,” brings things down around the Mendoza Line once again with its annoying chorus and monotonous lyrics. Following this is the Stone Sour-esque “Be Somebody,” which demonstrates TFK’s ability to create a harmonizing drive with their soft side.
“War of Change” is an excellent rocker, progressing into a more alt-metal sound and featuring bits of piano. McNevan’s pipes are dazzling, giving the song a spark in the pre-chorus with his raps before blasting into a smooth chorus. It’s a great showcase of everything the band has taken influence from during their career. However, apart from “Down,” a straight-up stinger that doesn’t hit quite as hard as some of the standouts, the remainder of the album sees the band delve into an acoustic ocean. Again, this side of TFK is hit or miss, with “So Far Gone” being solid and the Hyland-esque “All I Need to Know” being mundane.
Longtime Krutch fans may find many faults with this album. And I don’t blame them. The band didn’t change much about their sound or song textures, bringing with them an album that sees little movement from the core of their sound. This isn’t the main downfall of The End Is Where We Begin, though. In the end, the band’s seventh studio album is blatantly hit or miss; it features some of the best material TFK has produced, but also some of the weakest.