Following the highly successful The Altar and The Door album and tour, Grammy Award-winning group Casting Crowns is set to release its ﬁrst Christmas record titled Peace On Earth. Known for its life-changing ministry of renewal and discipleship, Casting Crowns continues that mission with an album of songs dedicated to the meaning behind this holy season.
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CASTING CHRISTMAS FAILS TO MEET EXPECTATIONS| Posted October 07, 2008
After last year’s The Altar and the Door debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200, going down in the books as the highest debut week for a Christian music artist in chart history, Casting Crowns effectively secured its astonishing hold on the Gospel music industry. Only five years after releasing its record-breaking debut, the band has collectively amassed more than 20 Dove awards, a GRAMMY Award, an American Music Award and Platinum or Gold certifications for each of its three major releases and two live recordings.
Not too shabby for the seven members who famously maintain their individual youth ministry ties, working their now-illustrious career around the long-time rewards of their personal church responsibilities.
With Christmas cheers still a couple months away, Casting Crowns’ has amazingly found the time to record and release its first-ever Christmas collection. Even with a focus on the Christmas message versus the typical seasonal marketing ploys, Peace on Earth will no doubt be selling tens of thousands of units long before the official advent of the season.
But even with all the energy surrounding a Casting Crowns release, seasonal or otherwise, Peace on Earth lacks a certain spark that makes the music of this season so transformative. Standards such as “Silent Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Joy to the World” receive fine treatments but lack original flair and fall flat.
“God is With Us” does little to differentiate from Amy Grant’s effective original. Paul Baloche’s “Christmas Offering” presents a congregation-ready chorus but fails to ignite much spirit on CD. And Mark Hall’s “While You Were Sleeping” issues a poorly executed derivative of its original from 2005’s Lifesong.
Though diehard Casting Crowns fans (and there are a lot of them) will find plenty to sink their teeth into, Peace on Earth misses the mark when compared to the band’s previous outings and the outstanding quality of other holiday releases. Casting Crowns may be at the top of its game, but this is not the band’s finest hour. –Andrew Greer
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from CCMMagazine.com. Click here to visit CCMMagazine.com today!
Peaceful and Good| Posted November 28, 2008
It’s only natural that one of the most popular artists in today’s contemporary Christian music scene should eventually make a Christmas album to finish off any seasonal yearning from fans. If the Alter and the Door was a step down for Casting Crowns does it mean that Peace on Earth will be another continuation of their average material in an effort to give fans something new?
When it comes to changing around the classics of the season Casting Crowns does very little which might be a good thing because of the disjointed tunes that are the result of remixing the Christmas classics. “Oh come all ye faithful” uses the guitar to give itself a more traditional tune; Lead singer Mark Hall and Megan Garrett trade off vocals often on that track and “joy to the world” and “silent night”. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is a well crafted instrumental song, mixing the violin and piano very skillfully.
Casting Crowns did adjust “I heard the bells on Christmas day” to become the album’s anthem, and while their little tweaks, including a well placed children’s choir, made the song more dramatic, it also lost some of it’s caroling effect. “Sweet little Jesus boy” is very light exchanges complexity for emotional music. The song however is very childlike (‘This world treats You mean Lord/Treats me mean too’) which suits the song but it may not inspire awe in the hearers. “Christmas offerings” isn’t anything spectacular out side of some light percussion, plus it seems to implies that the shepherd’s and Wiseman came at the same time, but despite some diversity Megan Garrett does a great job driving the emotion in “God is with us”.
The lyrics have been Casting Crowns strong spot in their career but it’s hard to give hard core lyrics in a Christmas album. So in an attempt to put thought provoking lyrics in their CD the band rewrote “while you were sleeping” to give it a more holiday feel; the result was cutting the verse about Jerusalem out and working a few more lines about Christ’s birth which leaves the bit about America the odd verse out since there is no very little connection between Bethlehem and America but the lyrics are good (United States of America/Looks like another silent night/As we're sung to sleep by philosophies/That save the trees and kill the children’.
Peace on Earth’s focus is on Christ but the benefit of adding a few traditional non-Christian carols would add a more up tempo feel to a very slow album while adding more songs in a relatively short CD. Casting Crowns Christmas album will likely find itself on many shelves this Christmas, which is deserved, but it will probably fall short of becoming a true Christmas classic.
Casting Crowns For Christmas| Posted November 24, 2008
I've heard every style of Christmas music there is, and I love them all. I've heard so many versions of each classic, and have my favorite versions of each. Maybe it's because I love the season so much, or maybe it's because I have such great memories of the music. And even though I'm a critic of Casting Crowns, I decided to give the album a listen in the good spirit of the season. This album, by its nature is a Christian Traditional Christmas album, in that the phrase 'jingle bells' is not uttered anywhere on this record, or the word 'snow.' :(
The record starts off with not a Christmas classic the title makes you think, but a seemingly original song done by the group. And by original, I don't mean it's never been done before, I mean it's made by the band. "O Come All Ye Faithful" is a very good softer take on the classic, made better with its acoustic aspects. "Joy To The World" is also a pretty decent take on the song. "Silent Night" isn't half-bad either.
However, "Away In A Manger" wasn't that great by the band back then, and it doesn't improve much since. The originals and the lesser-known "classics" on the other hand either miss their mark entirely, or are nothing to write home about. "God Is With Us" does have great vocals though.
The good thing about this record is that it's by Casting Crowns. The bad thing about this record is that it's by Casting Crowns. Casting Crowns' fans will love this album, and play it years from now. The problem for me is that Casting Crowns by style is unoriginal, and while highly spiritually-based, largely forgettable. So goes this album. You'll find a pure celebration of the birth of Christ, which is in someway original, but there's not much beyond the theme and the lyrics. Sorry, but Relient K and Jars of Clay did it a lot better last year...
Casting Crowns' "Peace On Earth": A Review| Posted November 20, 2008
by C.E. Moore
The current reigning torchbearers of CCM Casting Crowns have arrived with their first Christmas album in the form of “Peace On Earth.” And, whether I like it or not, it’s going to sell like hotcakes. Why? Name recognition. They’re Casting Crowns and they can do no wrong. They could be singing about the weather and people would buy it. Is the album good, though? Well, it’s not the best Christmas album released this year. Not by far. But, it’s still really good. Casting Crowns didn’t get to where they are because they have no idea what they’re doing.
The album begins with poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.” It’s a peaceful rendition of the holiday standard and Mark Hall’s knowing arrangement respects the material. “O Come All Ye Faithful,” another traditional is done well, but is nothing particularly memorable. Fans of Casting Crowns are already familiar with “While You Were Sleeping,” but this time around the band offers up the piece in its original Christmas version. I’m not sure what that means, as I’ve only ever heard this song in its non-Christmas version. Either way, all it amounts to is a few added lyrics that are clearly seasonally-minded. “Silent Night” is the best song on the album and Casting Crowns does what it does best on this number. A solid orchestral version of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” closes out the album and it is absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking in its delivery. The strings and piano are absolutely haunting.
There are a few things I have against this album. First, Casting Crowns never seems to make any of these songs truly their own. That may be a sign of respect, but none of the standards or covers really stick out. When I hear David Crowder sing “Feliz Navidad” or Jars of Clay sing “The Little Drummer Boy,” they are instantly recognizable. With the exception of the previously recorded “While You Were Sleeping,” much of the album is indistinguishable from the 100’s of other renditions of the same songs sung over the years. My other complaint is that, again, with the exception of “While You Were Sleeping,” there are no original Christmas pieces written by Hall or the group. Having proven himself as a capable scribe, I’m surprised by this omission.
“Peace On Earth” is a solid effort, but it’s not stellar. People will undoubtedly disagree with my opinion and that is fair. This is definitely for a certain crowd and I freely admit, I might not be it. Either way, what is here is good but had the potential to be so much more than it was.
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Manifesto. Click here to visit TheChristianManifesto.com today!
Peace On Earth| Posted November 30, 2011
I felt like this was just an average album for Casting Crowns. They have put so much effort and passion into their past albums, but I felt like this album was just something like they felt they were supposed to do. Sort of a, "Well, we've been a band for a while, so I suppose we should do a Christmas album." Nevertheless, this is still a good album and I still enjoy listening to it either way. God bless!!
Peace On Earth| Posted November 14, 2011
The bands only Christmas release at this point in time, this album is composed mostly of standard Christmas songs. My favorite track however is an original piece titled "While You Were Sleeping". With so many Christmas albums focusing on weather elements or Santa, it's great to have a release like "Peace on Earth" that is worshipful and Christ focused throughout.
Love it!!| Posted January 06, 2009
I love this Christmas CD by Casting Crowns. It was the only CD I listened to the whole Christmas season. The first song, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is amazing. The boys choir during the chorus is a cool addition and it sounds really nice. The rest of the CD is amazing. This is Casting Crowns first Christmas CD and it exceeded my expectations. Love It.
Peace On Earth| Posted December 16, 2008
Ah... Christmas music done right. (Call me "Scrooge" becauswe when it comes to Christmas, I'm kinda super nasty and I really pick on atuff!) Anyway I like these songs. They'll make a good background come Chrastmas morning!
Favorite Song: "Silver Bells". Fianlly a song that illustrates how I feel about that idea of so called "Peace on Earth". Check it out and you'll know what I mean! I have to applaud their relevance to the times of today! Good job guys!
"Peace" Does A Belly Flop| Posted December 16, 2008
Peace On Earth, the newest release by Mega Band, Casting Crowns, is sure to do well on the store shelves, and perhaps that is where it should remain, on the shelves.
The band kicks off the festivities with a rather origional take on "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" which starts off golden, it fails at the end however, as the song builds in strength, it wells up emotions inside of you, and it fails to pay off when the time comes. It fizzles and in my humble opinion, does not regain the ground untill the very last song, A very Moving rendition of "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel". The Solo Violin treatment serves the song and the album well.
If I had to describe the Album in terms that everyone would understand, It is like a Sandwich, Two good slices of bread on the outside, but an old Bologna sandwich inside.
Get "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel" on iTunes, but dont waste your time with the rest.