Skillet, ‘Rise’ – Album Review
Skillet are a band who have paid their dues over the past 15 years with relentless touring. Their popularity grew steadily, first making their name in Christian music, then crossing over to the mainstream. The band’s gold-certified 2006 album ‘Comatose’ really put them on the map.
2009‘s ‘Awake’ shot them into the upper echelon of rock bands, selling a million copies and spawning several radio hits such as ‘Monster’ and ‘Awake and Alive.’ Even though it has been four years since that album, Skillet haven’t been out of the public eye (and ear) because there were so many singles released from that album.
‘Rise’ is the band’s eighth studio album, and the first with new guitarist Seth Morrison, who joined Skillet in 2011. They brought back producer Howard Benson (Halestorm, Papa Roach, P.O.D.), who they worked with on ‘Awake.’
After picking 10 or so songs for ‘Rise,’ Skillet decided to make it a concept album. Vocalist/bassist John Cooper says “As we recorded them, we started to realize that there was something going on—that the album was really telling a story. Realizing that, I knew we needed to make it as powerful as we could.”
The storyline of the album follows a teenager coming of age, trying to figure out his identity in the midst of a world filled with problems. There are plenty of radio-friendly singles on ‘Rise,’ including the title track, but Skillet added more depth and diversity as well. There are interludes and cinematic elements such as children singing and choral sections on ‘Good To Be Alive.’
The band utilizes a wider variety of instruments such as accordion, mandolin, dulcimer, harp, tympani and bells. They also add electronic/industrial elements, keyboards and orchestral parts.
One thing that gives Skillet their trademark sound is the vocal interplay between Cooper and drummer Jen Ledger. Her performance on ‘Rise’ is a step above ‘Awake.’ Her voice is stronger and doesn’t sound quite as Auto-Tuned, giving it a little warmer quality. She is featured throughout the album, including the mid-tempo ‘Not Gonna Die’ and the power ballad ‘Salvation.’
It’s hard to say whether or not ‘Rise’ will do better commercially than ‘Awake,’ but it is a better album. The songwriting has more depth, there’s added diversity, the concept and lyrics are interesting and uplifting without being preachy, and there are plenty of potential hit singles like ‘Sick of It.’ Current Skillet fans will find plenty to like, and new fans will be attracted to the album as well.