Building on the success of their critically acclaimed and commercially successful release Unleashed, Skillet will release Unleashed Beyond, a deluxe version of their acclaimed 2016 release, on November 17. Unleashed Beyond boasts eight bonus tracks; five brand new unreleased songs, including “Breaking Free (feat. Lacey Sturm),” 2 remixes and the film version of “Stars” as featured in the motion picture The Shack, which hit No. 1 on Christian Hot AC this spring. Also included in the mix is Skillet's current Christian radio chart-topper "Lions," which is currently No. 1 for the sixth straight week on Hot AC. The deluxe edition is available now everywhere music is sold as well as their webstore.
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Beyond the Average| Posted November 17, 2017
Even if you're one of the highest selling, most critically acclaimed acts in your genre, releasing a deluxe edition is a move that can easily come off as an afterthought-- especially when it comes more than a year after the initial album release. Fortunately, Skillet has never been a band to do anything halfway. When the chance arose to re-release 2016's blazing album Unleashed, rather than phoning it in with low quality demos or acoustic versions, Skillet collected a full five previously unreleased tracks and three remixes. The result is Unleashed Beyond.
The best deluxe editions either complete or add dimension to an original release, and Unleashed Beyond is in that category. The new tracks begin with "Breaking Free," a duet with former Flyleaf singer Lacey Sturm (one of the first true vocal features found on any Skillet album). Stylistically, the song harkens back to a mid-2000s Skillet, with Lacey's superb screams adding a familiar texture towards the end. Thematically, the song is in the same vein as "Awake and Alive" or "I Want to Live."
New territory continues with "Stay Til the Daylight," a poignant love song that frontman John Cooper penned for his wife, band keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Korey Cooper. This easily could have stood in place of "Watching for Comets" on the original release of Unleashed, as it occupies a similar musical space but is a stronger song by far. "Brave" expands thematically on songs like "Lions" and "Famous," while "You Get Me High" serves as almost a direct sequel to the band's song "Better Than Drugs" from their 2006 album Comatose.
The best of the new tracks comes last, with "Set it Off" epitomizing the unabashedly fun vibe that Skillet set out to achieve with Unleashed as a whole. An insanely catchy vocal hook and crunchy guitars show off Skillet at their adrenaline-pumping best.
Three remixes close the project: "Feel Invincible (Y2K Remix)," "The Resistance (SOLI Remix)" and "Stars (Film Version)." The version of "Stars" is soft and cinematic, a result of its inclusion as part of The Shack soundtrack. Surprisingly, the remixes for "Feel Invincible" and "The Resistance" both chose to dial the songs back rather than pumping them up farther. Although both get the job done, there is a sense of waiting for a strong drop that never quite lands.
The Bottom Line: If you haven't bought Skillet's Unleashed yet (or even if you have), this is the version to buy. Unleashed Beyond is well-rounded, dynamic and shows a few new sides of one of the most beloved rock bands of the past two decades. There are certainly places where the new tracks fill the same role as songs on the standard release, making them not entirely necessary, but they're so enjoyable to listen to that Panheads are unlikely to have any complaints.
Song to Download Now:
"Set it Off" (Get it on iTunes here.)
Unleashed & Super Unleaded| Posted November 19, 2017 Unleashed. The title is appropriate for several reasons, not the least of which being the progression of titles fans have noticed (Collide, then Comatose, then Awake, then Rise, and now Unleashed) that the band has chalked up to coincidence (at least that is what they said when Rise came out). But it is also appropriate because Skillet truly is more up-front and aggressive on this album than they have been in a while, which alone may win back many fans that haven't been thrilled with Skillet's output since Collide.
Both the opening tracks present Skillet with rock songs that are of this aggressive, in-your-face variety; "Feel Invincible" may transport some fans back to the band's early-2000's era thanks to its electronic undertones, but it also features some hard guitar licks that Skillet simply hasn't been known for. "Back From The Dead" is another song that doesn't quite feel like typical Skillet output (I've heard some compare it to "Monster," but I don't buy that comparison), and I would classify it as a genuine "fun rock" track.
"Stars" follows to slow things down a bit with an explicit worship track. I can't be the only one that is reminded of Hillsong's "Oceans" when I hear the hook and first verse (Cooper even says the word "oceans!"), but despite that, "Stars" has enough lyrical power to elevate it to the third consecutive highlight to open up the album.
-Samantha Radiation Badges