On its third studio album, Casting Crowns continues to confront the doubts and fears of ordinary believers without flinching. The Alter And The Door (2007) offers bracing sermons and searing jeremiads without losing the light of hope. Lead singer/songwriter Mark Hall gives special attention to the shortfall between Sunday worship and weekday faith, dissecting spiritual weakness and self-deception with a well-honed lyric scalpel. “Slow Fade” and the title track portray the small but deadly compromises that afflict even the faithful, and Hall personalizes this theme in “Somewhere In The Middle,” a confession of his own inner battles. The band’s penchant for sweeping themes comes through in “Every Man” (a wide-angle portrait of typical Americans) and “What This World Needs” (a slashing attack on modern-day false prophets). Musically, they veer from pummeling guitar bursts to atmospheric piano settings, with an occasional nod to the Beatles, Coldplay and other influences. Words and music both serve a clear-cut purpose — this is one Christian release that doesn’t aim for the mainstream by blurring its message. Rocking hard and praying harder, Casting Crowns delivers the goods yet again on The Alter And The Door.