Burn the Ships is For King & Country's third studio album which was released on October 5, 2018 by Word Entertainment.
In February 2017, For King & Country announced that they had begun work on their third studio album in Los Angeles. The album was a follow-up to their commercially successful, critically acclaimed sophomore effort, "Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong" (released in 2014).
In the four years between the releases, the Smallbone brothers worked on and released the film, "Priceless" and the film's soundtrack in 2016, which (according to Luke Smallbone in the pair's interview with Billboard) held them back from returning to the studio.
The duo also headlined the 2016 Winter Jam Tour Spectacular and had their song, "Ceasefire" featured as a music video for the 2016 film, Ben-Hur and also featured on the soundtrack to the 2017 film, "The Shack" with a cover of "Amazing Grace".
Skillet and the duo joined forces for the "joy.UNLEASHED | The Tour" which ran from mid-April through early May. When the tour concluded, For King & Country announced that they will release "Joy." as the first single from the album on 18 May 2018. The then released "Joy.", that day.
Joel Smallbone shared with his opinion with Billboard about the album, saying: "It feels like the most mature record that we've made just in understanding who we are as a duo, who we are as men and maybe understanding life because we are a bit older than we were last time around."
Luke Smallbone also shared with Billboard that they established, through their assessment of "Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong." that the songs which connected with their listeners the most are the ones that were personal, and set out to ensure that every song on the album would have a personal story attached to it.
Joel also explained to People magazine that "The album was built around this concept of 'where are we' socially, politically [and] as a nation."
The name of the album (as well as the title track) stems from a battle that Luke Smallbone's wife, Courtney, faced with an addiction to prescribed medication, coupled with an historical incident during the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1519 AD where a Spanish commander named Hernán Cortés, landed his ships on enemy shores unaware of what awaited his arrival. To ensure that the men were committed to their mission, he proclaimed, "Burn the ships!"
Joel Smallbone expressed to Lee Clarion that "Burn the Ships" was "very much dedicated to the whole concept of no retreat, to very aggressively leave the past in the past and move forward."
- God Only Knows
- Burn The Ships
- Fight On, Fighter
- Need You More
- Never Give Up
- Hold Her
- Pioneers (featuring Moriah & Courtney)
In the United States, "Burn the Ships" debuted at #7 on the mainstream Billboard 200 chart dated 20 October 2018, earning a career-best of 62,000 equivalent album units in sales in its first week.
The album concurrently debuted at #1 on Billboard's Christian Albums chart that same week, was also the sixth best-selling digital release in the country that same week.
The album was a milestone for the duo, as it was their first top 10 entry on the Billboard 200 chart, their first Christian Albums chart-topper and fifth top 10 on the Christian Albums chart.
For King & Country also made their inaugural appearance with the album on the all-genre Canadian Albums Chart issued by Billboard at #41.
In Australia, "Burn the Ships" debuted at No. 11 on the ARIA Digital Album Chart for the week commencing 15 October 2018.
The album launched at #3 on the Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart dated 12–18 October 2018, as published by the Official Charts Company in the United Kingdom.
"Burn the Ships" prompted largely positive reactions, echoed in reviews about the collection from critics within the Contemporary Christian music genre.
Joshua Andre rated the album four and a half out-of five at 365 Days of Inspiring Media, stating that Burn the Ships, though "captivating and powerful," was not as compelling as "Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong."
AllMusic's Timothy Monger used "powerful" and "ambitious" as descriptors of the album.
Reviewing for CCM Magazine, Jen Rose Yokel said of Burn the Ships: "with its epic soundscapes and energetic, hopeful songwriting, it's a pop album you won't want to miss."
The Christian Beat contributor Emily Caroline wrote that "Burn the Ships is definitely a release to look forward to. The Smallbone brothers have a lot to share with this album, using their smooth, warm, relatable vocals and relatable songwriting to touch many."
Bestowing a perfect ten square rating for Cross Rhythms, Tony Cummings concludes simply: "An absolute gem of an album."
In a somewhat negative review from Jesus Freak Hideout, Michael Weaver rated the collection two stars, says "Burn the Ships isn't necessarily "safe," but it isn't as aspiring as their earlier work. However, the album has some very bright moments and some more poignant ones as well."
Wayne Myatt gave a more favourable second opinion in a Jesus Freak Hideout review, acknowledging "They [For King & Country] have toned things down a bit on this release," as the band enters a new chapter in life but recommended to the duo's fans and "perhaps those who favor the lighter side of pop and rock music."
The album came under scrutiny from an additional two cents piece by Jesus Freak Hideout's Alex Caldwell, describing the collection as "the tale of two albums," calling the first six tracks "being creative, energetic and compelling" yet the remainder are "b-sides that shouldn't have made the record."
Christopher Smith was more optimistic in his Jesus Freak Hideout additional two cents piece, saying that the duo have crafted "their most cohesive album yet," deeming it "a highlight pop release of 2018."
In a NewReleaseToday review, Kevin Davis believes "The album once again demonstrates multi-talented musicianship with creative, insightful lyrics and ear-grabbing melodies."
Brandon Callies, in a positive On Tour Monthly review, optimistically expressed that the collection will impress the Christian pop fanbase, whilst asserting that the songs "really push the boundaries of what contemporary Christian music generally has to offer. There is certainly more mainstream appeal."
Robert Berman lauded the album in his review at Worship Musician Magazine, declaring that Burn the Ships "deserves a listen from all fans of hopeful, faithful pop."
Abby Baracksai specified in a perfect five-out-of-five rating track-by-track review for Today's Christian Entertainment, that the album is "absolutely fantastic. The music is wonderful and the lyrics are impactful."
Today's Christian Entertainment, along with NewReleaseToday and CCM Magazine declared that the album is one of the best/top Christian records of 2018.