It's surprising to think that a band that's been around as long as Skillet (this year is their twelfth) has never released an appropriate live project. Years back, they were part of an Ardent Worship series of three releases (along with All Together Separate and Satellite Soul) which was a lower budget live worship project that wasn't quite a true representation of Skillet. However, with the band being bigger than ever since the release of their 2006 record, Comatose, they've captured their Spring headlining "Comatose" tour in a unique CD/DVD package, aptly titled Comatose Comes Alive.
Most audio/video combo live releases tend to either have an excellent version of only one or the other, seldom both. For Comatose Comes Alive, the audio disc is easily the strongest of the two, however, they certainly haven't skimped on the video side of things either. The audio mix is nothing short of amazing on the CD portion of Comatose Comes Alive. It's crisp, it's full, and frontman John Cooper's voice sounds fantastic without sounding doctored in any kind of way in post production. Also, the guitars and bass are given the life they need to make a live rock album sound really good. Many live recordings are unbalanced, either focusing on the quality of the vocals over the instruments or vice versa. On Comatose Comes Alive, the mix is almost perfect. Background vocals pop forward when needed and fall to the back at just the right moments. Also, the disc includes most of the chit-chat from Cooper between songs, but includes it at the end of the track that precedes the next song, making it easy to skip for repeat stereo plays when you just want to get to the music.
The song selection from the show covers mostly cuts from Comatose (a whopping eight, to be exact), with almost all of the other songs being from their previous record, Collide. It isn't until the encore with "Best Kept Secret" and a worship interlude two songs before it with "Angels Fall Down" that the band reaches back as far as their 2000 album, Invincible. The encore choice especially sounds great among the newer material, as well as presented in a live format. It would have been great to hear even one or two more classics thrown in, but I can understand the band's decision for sticking to the newer stuff. Lastly, the audio disc unlocks downloads for all of the bonus songs that were featured on last year's Deluxe Edition re-issue of Comatose. It's a nice treat for those who didn't want to double-dip with the re-release, but bittersweet for those who did just to get these songs.
To accompany the incredible audio disc is a live video DVD, presented in 16:9 widescreen format. The editing is extremely stylized. The opening of the concert is shown in a trim, ultra wide shot, with a dirt and scratches effect on the film to make it look aged and classic before the first song "Comatose" bursts open and the screen jumps into the full 16:9 aspect ratio. The screen dances from song to song with frantic lighting, spastic camera angles, and image effects that zip from frame to frame, keeping things always moving and never boring. The quick cutting can be a bit much at times, however, with some of it having a dizzying effect (especially on "Whispers In The Dark"... just think Cloverfield), but when the songs slow down, like with "The Older I Get," the angle cutting slows to give the camera a chance to linger a bit longer. Also, some of the camera effects lift the viewer out of the live concert setting, making it feel more like a music video than a live concert DVD. Lastly, there is some unintentional video noise and pixelation viewable when watching this on the bigger screens, but it's not enough to really harm the enjoyability of the disc. This is truly a quality live concert experience, especially when it comes to a live Christian rock production, and just what Skillet fans have been waiting for. The concert DVD also includes more talking from John Cooper than on the audio disc. Before the encore on the DVD, Cooper introduces the band and speaks about the meaning of the album and tour title "Comatose" as well as the message behind it. It's a nice fit for the DVD, and a wise choice to have trimmed it off of the audio disc.
The concert DVD has some extras, including a couple of music videos from the album Comatose and "Savior" from Collide, as well as a "behind the scenes" studio video of "The Older I Get." All of the videos are really disappointing as they look extremely pixelated on a bigger screen TV. In an increasingly HD world, it's not expected for the videos to be presented in high resolution, but it is expected for them to at least have a fair amount of clarity -- especially since they're presented in widescreen, along with the concert footage. Lastly, there's a slide show of live photos that slowly spin from photo to photo while the live music for "Better Than Drugs" and "Whispers In The Dark" play in the background. The photos look okay blown up on the big screen, but still look a little fuzzy at times. You can't scroll through the photos as it's just a video of photos, but it offers another viewpoint for their live show. While these are great bonus items, it would have been nice to have a little background footage of the band behind the scenes at this show or on the tour - especially since it's no secret that the band members enjoy filming candid material for use in online blogs.
It's unfortunate that it took this long for Skillet to score a real live project, but if it had to take this long just to ensure that it would be done just right when it finally did come to pass, then it's well worth the wait. Skillet's Comatose Comes Alive is easily the best CD/DVD live concert experience to arrive in years and something that raises the standard for such releases. Comatose Comes Alive is a great representation of Skillet's powerful live show, and like it, just plain rocks.
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Nearly Perfect Live CD/DVD| Posted December 02, 2008 Skillet is one of the best Christian rock band success stories of the past decade in my opinion. From the self-titled debut album in 1996 until now, the band has continued to redefine itself into the superstar rock band that released one of this decade's best-selling Christian rock albums, Comatose. For me, the combination of strings, keyboard, guitar, drums and John Cooper's emotional vocals with his wife Korey's background vocals was meant to be heard and experienced live. Since I haven't actually had that privilege, this nearly perfect live CD/DVD combo is the next best thing.
Comatose Comes Alive was filmed and recorded in Tennessee and it is easily the most impressive Christian rock live recording I've heard and seen since Live In Portland by Kutless. The songs just erupt with what live rock concerts are all about. The energy, emotion, and musicianship are completely engaging and I haven't stopped listening to this album over the last couple of weeks. The instrumental intro builds perfectly to the standout song Comatose and then settle in for over 1 hour of great live music. If you like Skillet, you'll LOVE this album and for me the highlights were my two favorite songs The Older I Get and The Last Night, back to back. John Cooper explained the meaning behind the songs and I got goosebumps listening to both of them. There are no filler songs and the album ends with standout songs Rebirthing, Savior and one of my all-time favorites Best Kept Secret. As John says during the concert, expect to lose your voice after singing and screaming along with this nearly perfect live CD/DVD. Great gift idea for any hard rock music fans.
SKILLET PACKS A PUNCH ON LIVE CD/DVD COMBO| Posted November 24, 2008
Packing over 10 years of rock into its first CD/DVD combo, Skillet releases Comatose Comes Alive. Expertly documenting a live concert from the band’s 2008 tour, the four-piece outfit fills a set list (or two) with pure, sweaty rock from its best-selling seven record discography, focusing the bulk of the attention on the band’s last two releases, the GRAMMY-nominated Collide and nearly-Gold selling Comatose.
Issuing a string of No. 1’s to radio over the years, Skillet uses popular tracks (“Rebirthing,” “The Last Night”) to provoke the crowd in singing word-for-word the entire night. As for band classics (“Best Kept Secret”), Skillet doesn’t disappoint. Mixing in a few tunes from the early days adds to the fire and is sure to stoke the thousands of “Panheads” (a nickname for Skillet diehards) and disciples of Christian rock alike.
Recorded at the historic Tivoli Theatre in downtown Chattanooga, Tenn., an unusual pick for a screaming Skillet show, the two-tiered seating and ornate backdrop create a provocative visual experience. Synced lighting, a balanced stage and Cooper’s commanding presence translate on DVD, while special effects and post-production miracles make the final footage as stimulating as the quartet’s pounding performance.
Smoking with rock riffs and alternative edge, Skillet’s performance is so tightly executed it almost substitutes for the related studio recordings, giving the listener both the production of a studio project and the sweat equity of a live show on one disc.
The CD/DVD comes enhanced with six acoustic tracks and music videos for “Rebirthing,” “Whispers In the Dark” and “Savior” as well as behind-the-scenes footage, making the single CD purchase price more than worthwhile. –Andrew Greer
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from CMCentral.com. Click here to visit CMCentral.com today!
Skillet [Comatose Comes Alive]| Posted October 31, 2008 [MAIN REVIEW]
There is something about live albums that make us feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Its fun to get swept up in the music you’re listening too, and when you are hearing the audience cheer and the band talk directly to the crowd, you feel like you’re in the middle of it all.
Skillet’s new live CD, “Comatose Comes Alive,” really puts you in the action. But the best part about this new release is that it is a CD/DVD combo. Not only do you get the audio (which has a few extra songs on the end) but you get the DVD of the concert, which rocked. Also included on the DVD are four Skillet music videos: “Rebirthing,” “Whispers In The Dark,” “The Older I Get” (behind the scenes video, and “Savior.” I spent a couple hours just watching the concert DVD and perusing through the video and behind the scenes section. The CD includes four acoustic songs included after the live performance portion.
If Skillet is a band you have never heard of before, it’s time to change that. Going strong since 1996, Skillet has released seven albums since the self-titled “Skillet,” which is nothing to sneeze at for any band, let along a Christian one. “Comatose Comes Alive” is project number eight, and their first live album. Lead singer John Cooper is the only original member from Skillet. His wife, Korey Cooper - who plays guitar, backing vocals and keyboard - joined in 1999. Ben Kasica on guitar, joined in 2001, and the newest member, drummer Jen Ledger, joined this year.
Lead singer John Cooper explains the meaning of comatose right before the last live song, “Best Kept Secret.” “The word comatose means being in a coma,” said Cooper. “We called the record that because if we don’t wake up out of our comas and realize we are loosing this world, we are going to lose. I’m really excited about this message because it’s not exclusive for Christians. We can all agree this world is getting worse, and you have a role to play, to make it a worse place or a better place. All it’s gonna take is us deciding that we’re gonna care more about somebody else than we care about ourselves.”
The entire album is packed with meaning and poetic lyrics that relate well to people in all kinds of situations. One highlight includes “The Last Night,” which is about being pulled out of our darkness by the Savior. “Your parents say everything is your fault / but they don’t know you like I know you. / I’m so sick of when they say, ‘it’s just a phase, you’ll be ok. Your fine, / but I know it’s a lie. / This is the last night you'll spend alone / Look me in the eyes so I know you know / I'm everywhere you want me to be.”
This is one of the most exciting projects I’ve seen in a long time Skillet is a band that continues to get better each time they put out an album. They won’t be going stale any time soon.
This band is pumped with passion and a heart for God. Watching the show and listening to their lyrics gives the audience a sense of how genuine this band is in their caring for others.
“We’ve all been talking about changing this world,” Cooper continued. “I say its time that we quit talking about it, and just do it. If we actually believe that love is the answer, then let’s start loving people and see what God can do in our country, and see what God can do in our world.”
Skillet's "Comatose Comes Alive": A Review| Posted October 14, 2008
by C.E. Moore
Skillet’s “Comatose Comes Alive” is quite possibly the best live Christian album I’ve heard in years. Come to think of it, it may be the best live rock album I’ve heard in years, sacred or secular. All I know is the DVD portion of this CD/DVD combo is the best Christian rock concert video I’ve ever seen. From the band’s stage presence to the camera shots to the digital effects inserted on the back end of things, “Comatose Comes Alive” is simply astonishing.
The album features 15 tracks (with 4 more acoustic tracks available online) with a majority of the tracks coming from the band’s last two studio efforts, “Comatose” and “Collide.” There are one or two tracks from earlier albums, but the bulk of it comes from the bands return to their rock sound. I won’t belabor things by talking about the songs individually. If you’ve heard either of the aforementioned albums, then you’ve heard what is presented here. This album isn’t about delivering new songs. This album is about harnessing the electric energy of Skillet’s live show.
And capture that energy is exactly what they did.
Generally speaking, something is always lost in translation between a canned experience and a live experience. One might even argue that a recorded live experience is essentially part of a larger canning process. But, vocalist John Cooper opens that can and releases a torrent of power that Skillet shows have become known for. In a way, I feel like the DVD experience is even better than actually having been there. Almost. While nothing will ever truly replace having “been there,” “Comatose Comes Alive” makes you feel as if you actually are part of the audience…closer even.
An added bonus to the show is the band’s inclusion of a cellist and violinist on the tour, as both “Collide” and “Comatose” featured a fair bit of strings to back their rock sound. It helped keep their sound authentic and definitely lent itself to the more ominous side of some of their songs.
“Comatose Comes Alive” is definitely something you need to add to your collection. If live CD/DVD combos are going to continue to be the way the record industry adjusts to the digital age, then Skillet has definitely set the bar high for anyone coming after them.
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Manifesto. Click here to visit TheChristianManifesto.com today!
Their Energy Shines the Brightest...| Posted May 17, 2010
Because of their unshakable stance as the very best hard rockers in Christian music, it is really not a surprise that their energy whines the brightest in a live recording. Like all live recordings, the songs aren't as "perfect" as on the studio recorded CD's, however for a live recording, these songs sound awesome! The list of songs was amazing, ranging from their earlier days to to Comatose. A list of rockers mixed in with more melodious softer hits makes for a very enjoyable listening session all in all!
Great Live CD| Posted September 03, 2009
For those panheads that are not able to go to a live Skillet concert- you now have a great substitute simply by the live CD!! Seriously it is just like being there the audio on the CD is amazing. Usually with hard rock live cds, you have a problem with not being able to understand the lyrics or you hear extra feedback but the way the team for Skillet edited this is AWESOME. Then some bands take part of one show here and part of another here and it is like a cut and paste concert but not our boys, Skillet. This is as good as it gets. This is a must have for your collection.
Skillet!!!!!| Posted August 23, 2009
This is an amazing album. Its a greatest hits album and its live! containing major songs from Collide and COMATOSE. i like these versions better because john cooper uses rougher vocals. plus CCA includes a dvd with the live recording, music videos and other cool stuff. AND you can also dowload 6 extra songs for free with this.
continue to impress| Posted August 18, 2009
Ever since first heerin of Skillet (which was about 1 1/2 years ago) they have done nothing but impress me,and "Comatose comes alive" is no exception.Includin all the hits the "panheads" have com to love,skillet releases one of the best live albums to date.From rockin guitars to violins to awesome light programs,skillet completely impresses with this project.
An amazing live CD/DVD| Posted August 13, 2009 Skillet in concert
At the time I am writing this review, I, unfortunately, have not actually seen Skillet in concert. But watching Skillet's Comatose Comes Alive is the next best thing to being there.
The CD and DVD have 15 live songs. And in addition to those 15 songs on the DVD, there are also music videos for Savior, Rebirthing, Whispers In The Dark, and a behind the scenes video of the making of the song The Older I Get.
And if you put the CD in your computer, and you have an internet connection, you are given an option to register your album and receive the following bonus songs; Live Free Or Let Me Die (B-side), Rebirthing (acoustic), Yours To Hold (acoustic), The Older I Get (acoustic), Whispers In The Dark (acoustic), and Say Goodbye (acoustic).
The songs sound very close to the original versions on Skillet's other albums. Though, there are some cool changes here and there, such as on the song Forsaken, where John starts in the chorus, and without instruments (which is very different from the original song). And also, when listening/watching the song Yours To Hold, there is a special "guest" vocalist for part of the song that will be sure to surprise you.
More about the DVD
Watching the concert is sure to get your adrenaline pumping. Some special effects here and there, and awesome camera angles, help to make some of Skillet's harder songs even more intense.
Whether you are a huge Skillet fan (aka Panhead), or into hard rock and looking for some new music to listen to, you will absolutely love Comatose Comes Alive. There isn't one thing I did not like about it at all. I seriously recommend getting this as soon as possible.
Accident turned good| Posted June 21, 2009
I actually bought this cd by mistake. I didn't realize that it was a live cd. Some how i missed the part on the front cover where it says Comatose comes ALIVE or i just didn't understand it(that's probably it). Anyway I was a little bit disapointed that i wasted money on it, but that was before i listened to it. And now i totally believe that the live version of the songs are better than not live. Needless to say i'm not disappointed anymore and that its an awesome cd. I also really like that it comes with a video of the concert, it's like your actually there.