Four-piece christian rock band Skillet first conglomerated in 1996. Within just a month, their quirky mixture of hard rock elements and motivational, engaging lyricism set them straight on a path to success, and they released a self-titled debut ‘Skillet‘.
Fast forward 20 years, 8 additional albums, and 2 Grammy award nominations. Despite the numerous line up changes, leaving front-man John Cooper as the only remaining member of the original roster, the band still retains a gargantuan mass of dedicated fans . Of course, with time comes a significant change in sound. For many artists this can be a fall from grace – and the album’s opening number ‘feel invincible‘ certainly sparked a lot of mixed reactions, making the band’s transition into a more electronic sound a very bumpy and controversial one.
In spite of the difficulty of changing their entire sound, one new heavily prevalent element throughout ‘unleashed‘ which worked much better is the focus on backing vocals of drummer Jen Ledger. During ‘I want to live’, her short solo sections provide the song with a noticeably more diverse feel – the contrast of a male and female voice is a rare find in rock music, and Skillet used it exceptionally well.
For the most part, the album is focused on a hard-hitting, constantly attacking, powerful sound, lead by the fantastic vocals of John cooper– but this is somewhat awkwardly broken up throughout by songs such as ‘Lions’ and ‘watching for comets‘, both of which sway more towards a slow, melodic, ballad-like vibe. This takes away from the flow of the album as a whole, but again makes for a better variety of sounds.
Skillet are renown for their hard work and perseverance, backed by constant touring and emphatic performances. In 2010, they even reached the top 5 of Songkick’s “Hardest working bands” list. However, it seems some of that work ethic was drained at some point in the making of this album. With sounds tiptoeing on the very edge of feeling generic, the album’s saving grace is solely and absolutely the powerful and hard hitting vocals. Comparing ‘unleashed‘ to one of the band’s older albums will highlight just how dangerously close to a lackluster effort this album is.
All artists experiment with their sound from time to time – after all, Skillet have been in the business for 20 years, it’s reasonable they would want to switch it up a tad.
This Skillet article was written by Tyler Summerill, a GIGsoup contributor