When I went to see Kutless live, they were a banging, thrashing mash-up of hardcore and screamo. You’d be hard pressed to convince a new fan of the band of that, though given that they have been releasing hit after hit… that’s soulful praise.
Sure, it’s still alternative rock, but it’s not where they started. Now, their short Christmas album brings a rocking vibe to Christmas music, but it’s introspective, solid, and mature. Without blowing the doors off of any of the songs, it does enough to keep you interested, and certainly focused on Christmas.
“O Holy Night” leads off and does it up in a way that makes me wish our churches could make this song that appealing to the masses on Christmas Eve. Somehow, I know this is my consistent knock, but we take all the fun out of these hymns, and that’s certainly not why they were written. The “Angels We Have Heard On High” Gloria in the midst of the title track which follows is AWESOME. It’s all focused on the true heart of Christmas (Christ) and it’ll probably get you tapping your foot and singing along.
I first heard the next song, Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven,” and think it absolutely rocks as a Christmas song (as if it’s the words of Mary awaiting the birth of her miraculous son) or as a plea for God to be present with us in the midst of our searching and struggles. Obviously, Mary was on their minds a bit, because Kutless drops a new spin on “Mary, Did You Know?” with a bit of techno drop, distortion, that makes for a more rocking version of this song than I’ve heard anyone else lay down.
“Beautiful” was pretty sweet, as a reflection on the birth of Christ, in praise and worship form. Another Kutless original, it’s definitely in the quieter end of their spectrum, but they bring it back up a bit with their cymbal-banging version of “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.” Another hymn that doesn’t get enough “play,” it’s a sensible wrap up to the take that Kutless has gone for the whole album, and proves again that this would make a welcome addition to your Christmas collection.