It's Skillet... just not their best work.
Posted August 21, 2009
It has been three years since their last release "Comatose" in 2006. Comatose deviated from the more aggressive, hard rock, "in your face" sound found on the previous album Collide (2003) to a more symphonic rock direction. I am one of those life long fans of Skillet that has listened to them since their self-titled debut. One thing I have always admired about the band is their ventures into various different sounds with no two albums sounding the same. Well, that was true until their latest release Awake.
It some ways it's not a surprise Awake sounds very, very, similar to Comatose. The title "Awake" could be the answer to the previous album title, linking them together. On the other hand Comatose was by far their most successful album, so it's no surprise they want to capitalize and what has worked for them. Yet, at the same time I wished they would have taken more chances with their sound, like the old Skillet would have. Are they selling out? You be the judge.
From a personal stand point I've always felt Skillet's strong point was the more aggressive sound. Not that the ballads are bad, (you know John loves his 80's ballads) I just find my self skipping them when listening to their albums in opposition to the heavier songs. Basically, Awake is Comatose with subtle changes, the nice addition of Jen's vocals, and the fact it an all around softer record musically. Some might like this and be very happy. But for those of us who go to their shows wanting a heavy rock performance may be a little less than satisfied. Hero and Monster (the two leading singles) are some of the strongest tracks on the record, along with Awake and Alive, It's not me It's You, Sometimes, and Forgiven. But some of the lyrics occasionally come across a little more cheesy and less mature than songs on previous albums.
I haven't had a chance to look at the lyrics but by listening to the Album I can make a educated guess that Awake may be more of a concept album where each song tells another chapter in the story. I find it to be about a person who is going through struggles with rage and bad relationships to finding Christ, receiving salvation from everything he was dealing with then losing a dear friend "Lucy" to death.
So the bottom line is... It's still Skillet. It's got the catchy rhythms and vocals, and great composition Skillet is known for. But it comes across as more of the same thing that was offered on Comatose but not quite as good. I personally was hoping they would take the aggressiveness found on Collide and mix it with the symphonic rock sound found on Comatose with some yet to be heard elements. Needless to say, It didn't happen this time around. On it's own, apart from past efforts it's a solid album with plenty to love, and I feel it's one that will grow on the listener with more listens. Some who are new to Skillet and loved Comatose will most-likely really enjoy this album, if not more than Comatose. But the veteran Panheads, like myself, may feel like they could have done better.
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