Written by: LF on 30/07/2013 16:08:33

Hard rockers Skillet are back after four years with a new album. For those who don't know, they are an American four-piece with the only remaining founding member being vocalist/bassist John Cooper. Other members are his wife and guitarist/keyboardist Korey Cooper, drummer/vocalist Jen Ledger and new lead guitarist Seth Morrison. The band released their first album in 1996 and has since developed their sound from industrial rock/grunge to their current commercial hard rock. Their 2009 effort “Awake” was their most commercially successful album to date though some fans consider their general shift in sound a major let-down.

Skillet is a somewhat cliché band. Ballads and anthems like title track "Rise" dominate on this album as they did on Awake and for instance the lyrics of the song "Not Gonna Die" actually has the lines: "When life pushes me, I push harder / What doesn't kill me, makes me stronger". Musically this is a typical Skillet record with their usual hard-rocking energy and trademark vocals. John's rough singing brings me back to bands like Seether or Breaking Benjamin while Jen's voice is somewhat similar to former Flyleaf singer Lacey Sturm's cleans. The contrast between the two works well for instance on songs like "Fire and Fury" and "Salvation" where Jen gets lots of space to unfold her pretty voice. What stands out from the band's earlier work are Seth's guitar riffs, for instance on the intro to "Circus For A Psycho".

“Rise” is set up as a concept album telling the story of an American teenager turning to faith in the seemingly hopeless world of today so in that respect the record has a very clear Christian message to pass on to its listeners. The mood of the songs follow this spiritual development and there are a mix of rebellious fighter songs ("Sick Of It", "Not Gonna Die") and lighter uplifting ones ("Good To Be Alive", "What I Believe"). Especially towards the end of the album the uplifting songs dominate with lyrics centered very much on faith. Even though the ballads and anthems still dominate Skillet's sound, these lighter songs bring a nuance to the album that "Awake" didn't have. One of these, "American Noise", is my favorite exactly because it differs from Skillet's typical heavy sound which is getting to be somewhat boring. It's nice to see them do something a little different.

Although there is variety in the mood of the songs on "Rise" they sound somewhat similar after a while especially because of the lack of variety in the otherwise good vocal performances. Still, to me "Rise" is a step up from "Awake" or at least a step in a slightly different direction which it could be interesting to see the band explore in the future.


Download: Fire and Fury, American Noise, Rise, Sick Of It, Circus For A Psycho
For the fans of: Thousand Foot Krutch, Seether, Breaking Benjamin, Flyleaf

Release date: 25.06.2013
Atlantic Records

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