Hearts of the Innocent



by roofi USER (17 Reviews)
August 27th, 2007 | 21 replies

Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mediocre Christian Rock band that represents everything that is wrong with the world actually releases a good record?

Christian rock bands tend to – fairly or not – get pegged as the Christian {insert artist here}. Example: Relient K used to be called the “Christian blink-182” back when they first started out (today, they are also known as “The Watered-Down All-American Rejects”). It is important to note how the comparison almost always is drawn towards a band of questionable musical chops – you will never find some artist/band get pegged as the “Christian Hendrix” or “Christian Nirvana” or “Christian U2” (though every Christian band at some point in its existence will attempt – and, most likely, butcher -- a U2 cover).

In the case of Portland band Kutless, the most viable comparison could probably be made to Nickelback or 3 Doors Down: Christian music critics give the band the lowest ratings they have ever given any recording (a “B-” or “75 out of 100”, depending on the scale), they are detested in Christian music forums, yet Kutless still has legions of diehards. And one of their songs was featured on Scrubs! I kid you not; look it up on Wikipedia.

Anyway, I used to be one of the many who would enjoy writing “poop on Kutless” and other such mature things in forums. Until Hearts of the Innocent came out about a year and a half ago. Now I’m sort of a closeted Kutless fan: I’m fine letting you know I like this CD while using a pseudonym, but if you found out my real name, I would probably have to kill you. Or ask you politely to keep my secret fondness of Kutless on the downlow. Probably the latter.

To set the record straight, Kutless doesn’t actually sound that much like Nickelback or 3 Doors Down; they’re in the same ballpark when it comes to cheesy ballads, but Kutless vocalist Jon Micah Sumrall’s voice doesn’t have the rasp of Chad Kroeger’s or the Southern twang of Brad Arnold’s. Kutless’ eponymous 2002 debut actually sounded more like a Creed clone; as you might imagine, it was wholly unlikable but not horrible. Their second disc, Sea of Faces, showcased an ability to morph and leech off popular rock bands of the time (think pre-Minutes to Midnight Linkin Park crunch), but the band actually acquitted itself nicely; it was unoriginal but well-done. It was their 3rd disc, a praise-and-worship record named Strong Tower, that was reprehensible: it simply repeated clichés of a genre that had been beaten into the ground a million times. And what’s worse, it was their most popular album because it was soft enough that it would get played on radio stations that soccer moms who go to mega-churches listened to.

So to go from Strong Tower – which I would rate a 1.5 if it was in the Sputnik database – to Hearts of the Innocent – which I feel is a 3.5 – there must have been some big change in the band’s style that would explain this sudden upturn in rating, right"


Basically, like a lot of other bands that have worked with Seattle producer Aaron Sprinkle (think Demon Hunter, Anberlin, Dead Poetic), Kutless hasn’t changed their style or formula – they still pound you with modern hard rock for seven or eight tracks and then settle into mid-tempo for four or five. They’ve just gotten a heck of a lot better. The guitars sound great on the record – not because these are exceptional melodies, but because they fill up so much space. The riffs on songs like “Somewhere in the Sky” and “Legacy” fill up your senses and threaten to knock you back 20 feet if you get too close to the speakers. They simply sound huge.

On the other end of the spectrum, Hearts of the Innocent features quite a few mid-tempo offerings, if not full-fledged ballads. These four songs are hit or miss: “Smile” and “Mistakes” seem forced and manufactured lyrically, but “Promise of a Lifetime” and “Changing World” are more natural and honest and are highlights of the record.

Kutless has worked with Aaron Sprinkle on every record they’ve done, and it’s frightening to think where they’d be without him. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, look at the liner notes of The Almost disc, the new MxPx disc, or any Anberlin record, and you’ll see his name there. Sprinkle co-wrote almost every song on Hearts of the Innocent and the band considers him to be its de facto 6th member. He’s also by far the most talented: the guitar work, while sounding great, isn’t anything special, the drumming is maybe above-average at best, and Sumrall has a good set of pipes but he’s not charismatic or even eminently likable as a lead vocalist. At this point, the band should be streaming Sprinkle at least 20% of their profits.

Bottom line: if you’re looking for a disc that will bring you instant street cred, don’t buy Hearts of the Innocent; go buy that new Against Me! record or, heck, even The Decemberists – everyone should be able to feel adequately snooty once in a while. If, however, you’ve lowered your sights down to an above-average modern rock singles disc, Hearts of the Innocent is worth checking out.

Recommended Tracks:

Somewhere in the Sky

Changing World

Beyond the Surface

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Comments:Add a Comment 
August 27th 2007


Good review, I can picture these guys as a slightly softer version of Ra.

August 27th 2007


The singer did some vocals in a song by Demon Hunter, so he's cool in my book.

Great first review.

August 27th 2007


GREAT 1st review man! I have this album and you hit it on the head (the nail). This is one of the best 1st reviews I've seen, granted I've only been a member since May or something.

Good review, I can picture these guys as a slightly softer version of Ra.

Na man, Ra is much better.

August 27th 2007


^I'm taking you haven't heard thier album Duality. Let me put it this way, it has similarities to your name.

August 28th 2007


I'm taking you haven't heard thier album Duality. Let me put it this way, it has similarities to your name.

Nope, haven't heard it yet. Their older album, I dunno if it was the debut or not, was really good, especially for nu metal.

August 28th 2007


Ya, From One was their debut. I actuly really liked Do You Call My Name.

August 29th 2007


I have no problem with christian music considering I'm a christian. But these guys are just awful.

November 3rd 2007


pretty nice album.

January 13th 2008


Hmm, I'd read this before but hadn't pos'd it yet. Excellent first review. Their first two albums were pretty boring though, I'm not expecting much better from this.

January 27th 2009


They were cool when I saw them live on the weekend

April 22nd 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

kutless is decent. this is a nice record. their newest was decent up till the fourth track. :D

April 22nd 2009


Album Rating: 2.0

i'm mildly ashamed that i ever liked this band :/

April 23rd 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

This is quite good. however, I agree with MediocreAtBest . Ra is better.

April 23rd 2009


Haha, Kutless was very cool two years ago in my sheltered circles. I actually never listened to them.

January 5th 2010


its cool hearing them live NOW, cause when you hear the first album, jon sumrall couldn't scream to save his life. When you hear him now, he can scream insanely well. He's improved alot since their self titled album.

oh, and this album is pretty great

June 20th 2010


Very nice review, I like Promise of a Lifetime. Because it's so cheesy.

May 21st 2011


This rules.

May 21st 2011


used to be my jam

June 13th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

Probably their best album.

June 23rd 2011


Legacy rips off Alice In Chains' "Dam That River".

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