I'm bumping this and pointing you to the most recent comments...please, if you're going to take the time to post, don't be stupid...
I've had the priveledge of getting my hands on a real copy of Casting Crowns' newest CD, "The Alter And The Door" a few weeks before it's released to the public. The following is my personal review, track by track. The only bummer with these pre-release CDs is they often are not complete versions of the final cut...this one's missing the last two tracks that will be on the final CD.
"What This World Needs" - The first track is perhaps the best IMO. It starts the CD off well, and made me think for at least 4:41 that C2's sound had evolved since their last release. This song offers a very modern sound with a cool digital loop, driving kick/snare and bass line and some heavy guitar effects (think Hillsong United or Chris Tomlin's "Let God Arise"). This first song does let you know right off the bat that the one thing that hasn't changed about C2 is their hard-hitting message to and about the church. Good stuff...
"Every Man" - Track two is much more "traditional" C2...piano driven, male/female harmonies, and again, those driven lyrics. This might be the first big radio hit from this CD. Good song and something to keep on the radar to use in church one day. Listen to the nice bass licks in the last 40 seconds of this one.
"Slow Fade" - Perhaps the most biting song of this project...taking direct aim at the moral failures of Christian leaders. Another more modern sounding song with a driving feel with the acoustic guitar. A great song to use when talking about character/moral discipline.
"East To West" - (The first single released on iTunes right now) A solid song about security in our faith and release of guilt and acceptance of forgivness (Think Audio A's "Ocean Floor").
"The World Is Alive" - A song about the Word coming alive in our lives. The first song in 6/8 time, which is always a nice change...it works well with the melody of the chorus especially.
"The Alter And The Door" - This song, unfortunately (and this is just MHO), is the beginning of the end for this CD. This track, and just about every other track 'til the end loses the modern alt rock sound for a more soft rock/country sound. The lyrics are still good, but the sound of the second half of this CD is radically different than the first half. The only thing I really like about this song, musically, is the second verse...they should have had the girl sing this entire song.
"Somewhere In The MIddle" - Great lyrics, good melody hook in the chorus. Vintage C2 with the piano/violins.
"I Know You're There" - Glad to hear the ladies get a song of their own...their voices are too good to be kept so much in the BGV's. Although, lyrically, this song seems to be more of a "filler" than any of the others...one of two songs not written by C2.
"Prayer For A Friend" - Written by Mark when he was about 15. While the lyrics are not nearly as polished, and the music/melody show their age, it's cool to see that Mark was even writing such honest lyrics at that age. The simplest song, musically, of the CD with just an acoustic guitar, violin/cello and pad.
"All Because Of Jesus" - The second song on the CD not written by C2...penned by Steve Fee Maybe the only song written and meant for congregational worship. A mix of the modern and country sounds found on this album.
Hidden Track - There's a "hidden track" at the end of the CD, I believe titled "White Dove". It's maybe the oddest hidden track I've ever heard...a Korean/English "classical" sounding song... Apparently, this song was performed by the band during its recent goodwill trip to North Korea. Sounds like it belongs on the "Sound of Music" soundtrack...
Bottom line, I am a little dissapointed with this album as a whole. I'm hoping that the last two tracks that I've yet to hear may help to redeem it. Lyrically it's just as good as anything C2's done yet, but the soft rock/country flavor on 4 of the 10 tracks just left me wanting much more, and a few songs seem more like fillers than anything else... But, I'm guessing that this CD will do better than "Lifesong" because it will apeal to a broader musical pallet.