Skillet – Recent Releases

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A few months ago, a friend read some of my articles published on Creative Control and asked me what my favorite music genre was. I smiled and quickly replied, “Christian rock,” which garnered a raised eyebrow and gaping confusion from my friend. He couldn’t comprehend that I actually liked the genre, claiming there wasn’t a single great band that played it. However, I only had to name one to change his mind: Skillet.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, you’ve probably heard of this amazing group, one of my all-time favorite bands. The group originally formed in 1996, when John Cooper—the band’s founder, bass player, and lead vocalist—met Ken Steorts, Skillet’s guitarist until 2000. Both were a part of different bands touring together, but after these bands broke up, their pastor convinced them to form a new band, which became Skillet. Since then, they’ve received wide acclaim while also going through a number of band members. Currently, the quartet consists of Cooper, his wife Korey (rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Seth Morrison (lead guitarist), and the incredible Jen Ledger (drums, vocals). They have won several Dove Awards for Rock Song of the Year (2008, 2013, 2015) and were nominated for two Grammies. Some of their songs have even been featured in TV and movies, such as “Awake and Alive” on the Transformers 3 soundtrack and “Hero” in several trailers for Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

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I love Skillet for a number of reasons. They have such an edgy sound for a Christian group, which has surprised some people I’ve met when I tell them Skillet plays Christian rock. Because their songs and overall sound seem so dark, many people can’t imagine them as Christians, but when you focus on their lyrics, it makes them so much more complex and a stronger band. For example, in their song “Hero,” some people might see similarities between it and Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need a Hero.” After all, the latter’s name is included in the lyrics Skillet uses. Even so, while Tyler’s song has to do with wanting a powerful man in her life, she only thinks of a human, while Skillet goes a bit further. At the beginning, the narrator sings about how “he’s just a man, not superhuman.” He can’t be saved by a mere human. He needs someone more than that, in this case singing about Jesus. As Christians, we believe we have so little time and we can’t survive without our savior. He doesn’t explicitly say Jesus’s name, but the song does talk about having a hero “living in him,” referencing the Holy Spirit. This is probably one of my favorite songs by Skillet, the song that got me into their music in the first place. Even so, I believe they have continued to evolve as musicians with each passing year.

I also have to recommend you see Skillet in concert. After watching them play at Winter Jam early last year, I was amazed by their passion and the special effects they use, such as shooting flames and a rising stand where Jen Ledger plays incredible drum solos. I was in the top stadium row, but I still felt the intense heat and soundwaves all the way from the stage. Although, even when you listen to their songs on YouTube or iTunes, their passion shines through and it makes you want to listen to them more.

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Photo: David Molnar

Recently, Skillet released their newest album, called “Unleashed,” as well as a music video for their song “Feel Invincible.” They posted all these songs onto their YouTube channel, so after listening to all of them, I wanted to give my thoughts on a few favorites, the first being “Feel Invincible.”

Throughout the years, Skillet has released many powerful, motivational songs overflowing with energy, and this song both follows and exceeds this pattern by far. When I first listened to this song, I felt depressed and exhausted from a dreary night shift, but this song dissipated all negative thoughts and feelings instantly. I felt like I could do anything and had the energy to do so, which is exactly what this song is about. This song talks about how God makes the narrator feel like he can do anything, no matter what comes against him. Even though he is weak alone, God gifts him the strength he needs, helping him when he needs him most. I love the powerful imagery found in the lyrics, such as “earthquake powerful,” and “You’re my titanium.” Not only is the power unstoppable, but the narrator trusts God completely. As a Christian, I am instructed to make Jesus my rock, or my “firm foundation.” Using titanium instead of rock makes this idea so much stronger because titanium is considered one of the strongest metals, making the foundation unbreakable.

It’s a great song to pick you up on a bad day, though the music video makes it even more powerful. You see many shots of the band playing with their great passion, as well as scenes with dark hooded figures. These figures seem to represent the opposition we face in everyday life, wearing masks since the darkness we face isn’t any specific person. In reality, darkness can take any shape, but in the end, it’s still a shadow that can’t overcome the strength God provides. Some people may not agree with what the song is saying due to opposing beliefs. However, I see this firm belief as something everyone should admire, if only because they aren’t afraid of what comes after them. As long as they believe, they won’t be afraid, which makes this band and their songs stronger altogether.

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Photo: David Molnar

Looking at their album, I found a number of other strong songs I liked, such as “Back From The Dead” and “The Resistance.” Both are similar to “Feel Invincible,” having to do with spiritual warfare against darkness. “Back From The Dead” is especially blood-rushing as it includes a number of intense images and motivational battle cries. The instrumentals are fast and make everyone who listens want to dance and head bang along. It even talks about running from zombies, which is something most people wouldn’t expect from a Christian band. “The Resistance” is not quite as fast-paced, but it still packs a punch. It talks about rising up and never giving into the darkness, despite how strong those shadows can be. The strength they talked about in “Feel Invincible” shines through, keeping them from being taken down. It also contains some awesome lines such as “Heavy as a hurricane,” as well as amazing instrumentals towards the end that make me think of 80’s rock bands. The album contains a number of other great songs, and I encourage you to listen to all of them when you have the time.

However, what really surprised me was a song I had already heard on the radio, but I had no idea it was by Skillet. The song is called “Stars,” and the reason why it stands out is because it’s not intense, almost dark rock like their other songs. In fact, you could call this song a worship song, something you might sing in church. It’s a beautiful track that talks about how powerful God is, but at the same time, this infinite being cares for each one of us. Because of this, the narrator knows he doesn’t have anything to fear and he lifts up his worries “to the one who holds the stars.” It’s much different than their other songs, at least in terms of instrumental intensity—the rock is still clear, but it’s slower-paced and feels much like a ballad. I would honestly love to hear more of this style from them, though any songs from Skillet are welcome in my book. They just have this way of catching people’s attention, broadening the definition of Christian music.

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