Before they were selling out arenas, Skillet could be found on small church stages, filling sanctuaries with an industrial rock that was considered uncharted territory in the Christian music industry. In April of 1998, they hit a sweet spot with their second studio album Hey You, I Love Your Soul, which set the scene for the future of a band that would quickly skyrocket to the forefront of Christian rock.
Hey You, I Love Your Soul hits its listeners head-on in the first three tracks of the album. "Hey You, I Love Your Soul," "Deeper," and "Locked In a Cage" blend detail oriented, keyboard-created sounds with heavy rock instrumentation. And just when everyone thought it couldn't get better, John Cooper laces each song with a sultry yet powerful vocal like that of Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails. The band slows it down with songs like "Your Love (Keeps Me Alive),""More Faithful," and "Coming Down," allowing Cooper's exceptional lyrical ability to shine in the centerfold of the record. But they don't wait long to bring back the industrial sound with "Pour," and they stay in that groove throughout the rest of the album.
I have seen Skillet live over ten times in my life. Part of this is because they've always toured close to my home state, but it is mostly because, even in the beginning of their career, their live shows were never a disappointment. What was great about Skillet is that they would leave everything they had on whatever stage they were using to perform. That ability is what took them from small stages to sold-out stadiums. No, they didn't always have smoke machines, laser lights, and violinists strapped to a harness, floating above the crowds. What they did have, however, was a passion to create rock and roll music suitable for any age and religious background. This, combined with their hunger to preach the word of God and be a light to their fans, is what brought them to where they are today.
Even though their early music is what made me a Skillet fan, I am still a massive supporter of this band and what they represent. They are a mainstay of the Christian music industry and continue to make relevant rock and roll that touches the lives of millions of people. And what's brilliant about them is that, regardless of their popularity, they have not lost the calling to make music that is uplifting, encouraging, and authentic. Their sound has changed over time, but their hearts remain the same, and that is a rare thing in the music scene.
I often talk with fellow Christian music lovers about the end of Skillet. I have been asked countless times "So when do you think Skillet will call it quits?" I always respond with this: why stop a good thing? Skillet has not only become a worldwide sensation, but they also have stayed true to what made them a band in the first place. I think Skillet has a long way to go before they say goodbye, and I am stoked to see what's in store for them in the years to come.
Jessi Ellerbe owns a small record store in Florida. She loves music more than anything in this world (except Jesus, of course). If she's not listening to music or working at her store, she's usually out record hunting, going to Disney World, spending time with her boyfriend, hanging out with family or friends, catching up on a favorite TV show, or curling up on the couch and watching a movie.
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