The End Is Where We Begin
Any list of the most significant Christian rock acts of the last 20 years would be incomplete without Thousand Foot Krutch. The band formed in Peterborough, Ontario, in 1995. And along with contemporaries such as Pillar, Kutless, Relient K and P.O.D., these Canadian rockers have survived the swirling changes in taste that will inevitably test any band's longevity.
Frontman Trevor McNevan once said that the band's name symbolizes "the point in our lives that we realize we can't make it on our own strength." That truism is repeatedly reiterated on The End Is Where We Begin. And in most cases, the end that the band has in mind is coming to the end of ourselves and embracing the truth that real life begins when we embrace our relationship with God.
"You must find the truth," a robotic voice tells us on "The Introduction." "Remember, not everything is what it seems/If you don't stand for something, you might fall for anything." The balance of this 15-song effort maps out what Thousand Foot Krutch stands for. And frequent references to the band's Christian faith split the difference between overt and obscure.
For example, on the title track we hear, "I'm an alien/'Cause I'm not of this world/ … I've been changed, and now I can't stay the same/And I'm a loser if that means I've been lost before/But now I found it, I'm surrounded." Christian listeners will quickly parse what's happening here, reading references to being lost and found as clear allusions to salvation … without absolutely spelling the gospel message out.
"So Far Gone" tenderly expresses gratitude to God (again, without actually using His name): "I've stood alone, and I've fallen down/Your hands were there to pick me up off the ground/Sometimes I cry because I can't believe/Your love is big enough to cover me/Sometimes I've wondered if you're even there/But when I feel far away you meet me there."
Using similar wording, the chorus of "Let the Sparks Fly" invites a nonbelieving friend to embrace a relationship with God: "Let me take you into the light/There's nowhere to hide/There's nothing but darkness left here/Shake it up, and let's take a ride/'Cause heaven's not far away/And I'm not gonna leave you here."
One of the clearest references to Christianity comes on "War of Change," a militant anthem proclaiming the band's readiness for spiritual warfare. "I want to live like I know I'm dying/Take up my cross, not be afraid/ … We are ready and prepared to fight/Raise up your swords, don't be afraid." And the empowering foot-stomper "Light Up the Sky" references devotional writer Oswald Chambers ("Lights out, stomping all competition/My utmost for His highest, it gets no flyer"). "Fly on the Wall" rejects the lies of an abusive deceiver (possibly the devil): "I don't think I need you anymore/Take your words and your lies and just beat it/ … Take the hurt and the pain, I don't need it."
"I Get Wicked" alludes to the power of prayer with, "I am not afraid of this mountain in my way/You can push me to my knees, I believe/And I am now awake/Uncontrolled and not ashamed/When it washes over me, I feel free." Likewise, prayer dispels doubts and ushers in peace on "All I Need Now" ("There's a moment in the morning when I feel the most alone/But then I hear your voice whispering my name/It's like a wave of understanding, and I never could have planned it/When the questions and doubts all fade away/That's all I need to know").
The overall context of "I Get Wicked" seems to be about spiritual warfare, as we have references to the devil, prayer, the Trinity and fighting on behalf of those under spiritual assault. But the band appropriates a cloak of "wicked" language in its efforts to combat evil, a lyrical maneuver that could be misinterpreted as glorifying said wickedness ("I could be nice, but don't test me/I can get wicked/I get wicked, wicked/ … You want to kick it/Watch me get wicked/Step up and get it/Because I get wicked").
Here's lead vocalist Trevor McNevan's explanation for "I Get Wicked": "I know what you're thinking … the word wicked can be associated with a million negative things, but for me, as a Canadian, it has always been a word associated with something great—no different than the word awesome or going to the fence, giving it all you got, so to speak. I was inspired to write this based on the saying, 'Don't mistake kindness for weakness.' I heard that once, and it's always resonated with me. I think as Christians, we can tend to be too nice, and let people walk all over us. This isn’t a song promoting violence or anything of that nature, it's more of a statement, saying, 'my faith's my life, but that doesn't mean you can walk all over me.'"
It's a perfect seque into noting that Christian rock has developed a reputation over the years of sometimes talking about God in code. Faith references are pretty clear to insiders (believers and/or band superfans), but perhaps not so obvious that they might sound "preachy" to the more casual, sometimes mainstream audiences the bands strive to reach.
Thousand Foot Krutch is a good example of that approach.
Those in the know will know exactly what the band's singing about. Those who just like its aggressive, modern rock sound (a vibe that at times echoes Rage Against the Machine, Linkin Park, Chevelle, Stone Sour, Disturbed and Three Days Grace) might at first miss these lyrics' spiritual implications. But after a few listens, they may be prompted to think more deeply about the faith that permeates The End Is Where We Begin—from start to finish.