I was never really big on Christian rock bands always being more into shock rock, aggressive music and theatrical bands like KISS, ALICE COOPER and even DAVID BOWIE. A few years back I sent my wife on a mission to cover “Rev Gen”, this was back in 2009, and one particular band blew her away and that band was SKILLET.
I was getting tired of hearing her telling me how good SKILLET was so I checked out their music catalog and thought they were pretty good. At that time their album “Awake” was just about hitting the market making it to # 2 on the Billboard top 200 chart. “Awake” arrived in the mail for RockEyez to review and blew me away being named by our site the # 1 release of 2009 and SKILLET being named by RockEyez Best band of 2009. After that John Cooper invited us out to see the band on The Creation Tour at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA on October 9, 2009. Ever since those days SKILLET has been and still is one of my favorite bands, thanks to my wife Stephanie and a slight touch of SKILLET of course!
As their latest release “Rise” (released June 25, 2013) I can feel the growth of the band and how they matured from the early days of me checking out their catalog. I feel the addition of Jen Ledger’s vocals caressing the lead vocals of John Cooper gave SKILLET that push toward ecstasy. She is the element that gave the perfect touch and direction for SKILLET to reach world renowned status. I felt the growth on “Comatose” and “Awake” exploded and now we have “Rise” and it just takes it even further.
Listening to the CD I felt SKILLET took some chances with an array of styles, don’t forget their last release was in 2009. The new disc starts off with the title track “Rise” and the blend of John Cooper and Ledger excited me right from the start. This is a match made in heaven, the two vocal powerhouse voices that push the extreme to their limits. The chanting background vocals give a total arena rock feel.
“Sick Of It” is the first featured single that pumps the adrenaline and the tapping keys by Korey Cooper give the song full body. Lyrically, the chorus is pounded into your memory. Track three “Good To Be Alive” is one of my favorite tracks as it gives an uplifting feeling. The song is not too heavy but an excellent melodic tune to mellow the senses. When you thought the song has ended Ledger’s vocals enter and choir chants take hold. This is one of the songs that really gives me chills as it runs into track four, “Not Gonna Die”, which is my favorite song. With “Not Gonna Die” I can see my arms out and looking to the heavens and asking a higher power to enter my soul. The guitar work by Seth Morrison is perfection and really makes an impact on the song. John Cooper and Ledger have reached the promise land on this one for sure!
Slowing things down a melodic gem “American Noise”, it calms the feelings. Cooper steps forward with lyrics of truth. There will be good and bad in your life time but you always have a voice that can be heard.
“Madness in Me” brings crunch time with a pulsating heavy tune that show SKILLET are a force of musical talent. The heavy bass lines by John Cooper and the hard-edged drumming of Ledger make the grade. “Madness In Me” runs into the next track “Salvation” where Jen Ledger excels on lead vocals. I can’t express how much Ledger stands tall on both lead and background vocals. I know Cooper is the main man in SKILLET but what a hell of a side kick he has in Ledger. The fluttering strumming by Seth Morrison and Korey Cooper make the song even more electrifying.
“Fire and Fury” is a power ballad between Ledger and Cooper that shoots to the stars. I love the keys by Korey Cooper and the thumping bass lines by Cooper. It’s pure magic!
“My Religion” really goes out on a limb for SKILLET. The song has a bluesy almost New Orleans-style back beat or maybe a song that would go with the sound track for West Side Story. It’s certainly a bit different but I like it.
“Hard To Find” is just a good song that fans will be singing along to as it kind of has the feel of the band OASIS where the vocals and harmonies blend well.
On “What I Believe” John Cooper and Ledger are once again excellent but what holds the key are the keyboards by Korey Cooper, which will be burnt into your memory. “Rise” is such another musical gem for the band and is a keeper for sure. You got to pick it up and check out SKILLET’s explosive live show on the “Carnival Of Madness” tour in 2013.
(Note that the deluxe edition has three bonus tracks and a DVD. So if you’re looking to get the full package pick the deluxe version.)