Review The Artist (53)
Classic rock riffs, swirling drums, monstrous hooks, and undeniably catchy choruses... hints of old school progressive rock mixed in with modern alternative flourishes... touches of classical influence as swelling strings intersect with sonic adrenaline rushes. It's indeed a fusion unlike any other, marking the latest chapter in the continuous evolution of Skillet, whose moniker couldn't be more fitting for their explosive new Lava/Atlantic Records release, Comatose.
The project follows Skillet's 2004 Lava/Atlantic debut, Collide, which launched the group into the public eye with the single "Savior" (the #2 most added at CMJ's "Loud Rock and Crucial Spins" panel the first week out), and garnered the quartet a prestigious Grammy Award nomination. Collide went on to become their best-selling project to date, with over 200,000 units sold, while the band played some 200 dates a year - including tours with the likes of Saliva, Shinedown and Finger Eleven, Three Days Grace - in the process becoming one of the hardest working, heaviest rocking, and most broadly appealing acts of its generation.
"We're proud of where we've been in the past, but I feel like this is our strongest record," says vocalist/bassist John Cooper of Comatose. Recorded at Chicago Recording Company (Smashing Pumpkins, Michael Jackson, R. Kelly), the album was produced by Brian Howes (from famed Canadian TVT band Closure and Hinder's hit debut) and mixed by maestros Chris Lord-Alge (Green Day, Hoobastank, Bon Jovi, P.O.D.) and David Bottrill (Tool, Staind). "There are so many different influences that it won't just be about rock audiences or metal audiences," notes Cooper. "I think there's something here for everybody."
Pop in the project for a matter of seconds and it's obvious Skillet has raised the bar yet again, building off the refined musicianship found on Collide and taking it to even more jaw-dropping extremes. A case in point is "Rebirthing," a complex but accessible amalgamation of piercing strings and humongous power chords sure to be a concert staple. In sharp contrast, but equally compelling, are tracks like "The Last Night" and "Say Goodbye," oozing with ethereal orchestration and infectious sing-a-long potential.
"I just love rock ballads and the old days of Motley Crue, Aerosmith, and Bon Jovi," says Cooper. "They always help you remember where you were, what you were doing, and who you were dating. They represent more of the pop side of what we do, which might have been hinted at in other records, but was never fully realized or matured."
On the other side of the Skillet, Comatose shows the band flexing its experimental muscles, adding several piano-based and progressive-influenced pieces. A careful dissection of the album's first single, "Whispers," unveils nods to the current prog crop via the channels of Yes, while "Better Than Drugs" is a delightfully schizophrenic barnburner that is one of the disc's most aggressive displays. "The Last Night" takes a more delicate twist, merging John's vocals with his wife Korey Cooper's keyboard cadences.
"It's a new era for both Atlantic and Skillet," exclaims Andy Karp, Head of A&R for Atlantic Records. "It's the first record where we've really been one on one with the band, and it's the latest step in our unique journey together. I've been at the label seventeen years and we're known for having so many great rock n' roll bands: Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Yes, Bad Company. There really aren't a lot of labels that have that kind of pedigree for rock acts, and Skillet is yet another in a long line of great bands."
Cooper and company can certainly relate, citing several from the label's lineage as influencers since its infancy. "Growing up, I was a prog freak and loved bands like Yes and Dream Theater," he confirms. "I also grew up with my mom as a classical piano teacher and took lessons for eight years, along with playing in the marching band and symphony. It's funny because every once in a while there was a touch of that on Collide, but until recently, I didn't see what that background had to do with rock music. On this record, we were able to make it work structurally with the piano and strings, plus there's enough prog to make me happy."
Aside from Skillet's musical strides, Cooper's songwriting has expanded to cover a vast range of topical territories, some of which follow socially conscious ideals, while others vulnerably mirror his personal life and struggles. Take, for instance, the aforementioned "The Last Night," which talks about someone considering suicide after living life in despair and not having support from their parents. Rather than calling it quits, the track suggests life is worth living and through the help of a supportive friend, they're eventually talked down from that ledge. Even closer to home for Cooper is "The Older I Get," which picks up after his mom passed away, tracing the rocky relationship he had with his dad and new stepmother.
"My dad got remarried two months after my mom died, and my stepmother's husband had also passed away a few months earlier," he recalls. "It was a really bizarre situation and they didn't get along, which was also the point when my dad and I started fighting. From the time I was fourteen or fifteen, I don't remember having a single conversation with him for about four years that didn't have to do with fighting. But a lot has mended since then and we've been able to move on. You can only go through life so long living in regret, and while those situations certainly affected me, I don't hold onto the anger anymore."
Those introspective visions tie in with the group's overall goals of promoting positive messages that will give fans something to digest beyond pre-conceived clichés or trite topics. Naming the record Comatose further cements those expressions, hoping to rev up listeners to break beyond the mundane, get on track with their relationships, and charge forward with hope.
"John has written the best songs he's every written and there's been such an evolution on all levels for the band," says Karp. "Sonically we set out to create a combination of electronic elements, orchestration, and a melodic approach. Skillet has managed to hit all of those three exactly on target, raising its game to yet another level of excellence."
More than just making a disc packed with killer compositions, Cooper hopes Comatose's deeper meaning will strike a chord on all levels with listeners from any walk of life. "We live in a time where technology and information is so fast, but somehow we've never felt more alone," he sums up, referencing a line by Matthew McConaughey in Contact. "We're all so desperately trying to communicate with each other online with MySpace and instant messenger that no one gets to know one another, and they feel so alone with nobody to talk to about their problems. So I guess in Bono-esque fashion we're talking about how we need to wake up and come out of the sleep we're in and start reaching out to one another, getting it right in our own lives and actually being there for someone else."
Thanks to Will Paul for submitting the biography.
Please click here to submit the latest Skillet biography
Where Do I Begin? | Reviewer: LarrytheSkilletFan | 6/20/14
As one can read with my user name on here, yes, I might sound like everyone else but as a recovering drug addict that found Christ, I can say that this band is absolutely amazing and because of them I found God. I can't wait to meet these guys in heaven some day.
Adding To The Noise | Reviewer: Adam Rock | 1/12/14
I might sound like everyone else on here talking about how great Skillet is, however, I will reiterate the fact from when I first them on the scene as the three man band with songs like "Gasoline" "My Beautiful Robe" and "Paint" were the hits that I loved back then in 1996. Though the music changed over the years, they still produced absolutely awesome stuff up to about today with songs like "Hero" "Monster" and with "Whispers In the Dark." I haven't heard much from "Rise" just yet, but I'll be sure to buy it eventually.
Well, I haven't waited for that. | Reviewer: Anonymus | 6/17/13
At first time I looked on this band with scepticism, 'cause I mostly despise Christianity in it's modern form. But after I read lyrics of "Hero", "Monster" and "Awake and Alive", I was happily suprised that it can touch non-christian people too. Good luck to band!
Greatest inspiration | Reviewer: Drummerjake | 10/17/12
Skillet is my greatest inspiration!..I literally think about you guys every single day!..john and Jen are the people I look up to the most!..I can't wait for there new album to come out so I can learn new skillet songs on the drums and the bass!
Keep rocking for god
skillet is da beast! | Reviewer: angel | 8/17/12
i love them! i was first introduced 2 skillet when i was at my church group,SteelRoots,n i wanted 2 know more about them so i could understand n figure out who skillet really is n how the band came 2 be n now that i've found my answers i can totally relate 2 john cooper's history n it just makes me wanna listen 2 them even more!i love you skillet keep rocking 4 god:)
Many Fangs,C.K.'s Angel
THIS IS THE BEST BAND EVER!!!!!!!!!!!! | Reviewer: Chad | 12/8/11
Skillet is my altime favorite band and always will be. My first song i heard from them was Wispers in the Dark and i said to myself the were ok but untill a actually syarted to listen to them theni said to myself this band is amazing and when i kept listening to more of their songs I thougth they were better than I thought. My altime favorite song from them was"Rebirthing" after it was over my mouth dropped it was amazing. Anyways i would just like to say that skillet is the best band ever and I hope that they will never become history and that they will last forever, thank you guys so much for your aweome music and keep up the great work.
skillet insane!!! | Reviewer: sadie | 6/9/11
i first heard skillet(rebirthing) beacuse my daddy told me to look them up.. he told me they were awesome and that he had played with them before(if you remember(talking to the band) These 4 down) (my daddy is the lead singer) and i fell inlove.. i watched the lyrics one time and i instantly knew all the words.. i started listening to all of there other songs and i love you guys!!! so far, my favorite song is "Lucy" i really like all of their(your) songs and i play them alot everyday!! MY MOM SAYS I OVER-PLAY YOUR SONGS BUT I TOLD HER YOU CANT OVER-PLAY GOOD MUSIC!!! (: anyways.. thank you so much for being a band.. you changed my life.. i usto listen to music that could've lead me to kill myself and idk why.. then i heard you guys and i changed completely... (: if you guys ever break up as a band... you will never die out!!! if this made any sence to you im glad but if not im just saying thank you for being a band, thank oyu for doing this type of music and thank you for having everything to give you the guts to do this!!! (: btw: im only 13 so you saved a life.. and im sure im not the only one!!! thhank you and God bless!!!! : i <3 you!!! :
inner strength | Reviewer: bristal summers | 5/18/11
hey, i was just flipping through music channels and i heard a few seconds of HERO and and i instantly understood what kind of band u guys are. i admire and respect your music because u believe in standing strong and never straying away from your beliefs and i feel the same way. the world needs help, it needs a hero and i made it my duty to be that hero, to give my life because i see the bigger picture. im only 20 years old but i understand things far beyond my age and your music is what i need to hear bkuz i lose faith sometimes and we all need help in life. so if u guys ever read this just know that you have helped me become stronger. u might see my name go down in history as a hero bkuz i will fight against evil until i the day i die. farewell and good luck in the future of your band. SINCERELY, a committed follower your words, named Bristal Summers- born -9/23/1990- age -20
THEY ROCK!!! | Reviewer: chris | 1/14/11
i first heard of skillet by accident, when browsing youtube, and i came across awake and alive, and i really really liked it, and decided to do a bit of "stalking" and figure out some more about this band, and i came across my favorite song, Whispers in the dark, and hero, and i learned that they are a christian band, and i honestly saw the light, i was never really religous until i started listening to this amazing band, and saw the light :) You guys are awesome.
Love Skillet | Reviewer: aysmommy_08 | 9/17/10
My husband and I bought the comatose cd...and fell in love with God again...we just saw skillet in concert and I have been to many concerts and it was by far the greatest...Im just not sure if people that were there knew they are a christian group. I really pray that they can lead people to Christ through their lyrics...I bought pre sale tickets to their show coming up with toby mac and will be down in front I cannot wait!! Prayers for youll as you continue Gods work!
Awesome | Reviewer: Jeremiah | 7/8/10
I believe Skillet is a awesome rock group. Who i agree could win non-Christians to Christ ,also, encourage Christians.And,as a youth minister i need
encouragement.Skillet is just the band to do it.
I,m 16 so skillet YOU ROCK!!
Do I even have to explain the godliness they have? | Reviewer: Zachary Koehl | 6/1/10
Usually I'm into oldies music and heavy rock separately but when my friend had me listen to their song Awake and Alive my jaw dropped, I scrapped all my music and went searching for each one of their albums, I now own each one. I have never heard such a perfect blend of old and new music with a dice of instrumental and catchy lyrics. As usual since the first set of lyrics I listened to by the quartet is Awake and Alive will always be my favorite but, every single one of their songs deserve a rating of 8 or higher out of 10. There are few groups I would relate to this mood smoothing, thought persuading, inspiring mix of sounds and, very few that may surpass the heart gripping lyrics of Skillet.
Christian Rock Band | Reviewer: Orange-Butterfly100 | 2/17/10
I love the fact that they're a Christian rock band, mostly because I believe they're going to attract non-Christians and (hopefully) bring them to Christ.
Though I am a Christian, I do not think rock bands lead you to Satan. Unless they are entirely about sex, drugs, or other sins, most rock songs can be interpreted as either romantic or even with a little God in them (Everything You Want by Vertical Horizon, for example). I think people need to dig down deep to see the true (or wanted) feelings in the songs.
Music helps me think, as well as it helps me through the hard times (of course, so does God). And I'll admit that most of my favorite music is rock music (this also includes Japanese rock/pop). I think as long as you have faith in God, nothing, NO MATTER WHAT, will take you away from him (read Job, that seems to be a good example). Which is why I'm a Christian who loves anime, manga, Harry Potter, Twilight (to some extent), fantasy things, video games, and PG-13 movies. None of them stray me from loving God, and I love digging deep to find the meaning of things, even if they weren't intended.
I actually always think of love songs when I'm listening to Skillet, because that's what they are. Love songs. To God. <3
I hope this put a different perspective to those who don't like rock bands.
I remember when we were talking in class and they said that rock music was bad (I went to a Christian school most of my life), and I questioned that. Just because there was a bad phase (when rock music was all about sex [Rock'n'Roll]), doesn't mean that there is bad rock music now (look at Skillet, Family Force 5, etc.).
:) I hope this helps.
I swear the best band | Reviewer: Tala | 1/21/10
they got the best voice.. i love em so much, i hear all there songz every day, & i love the song believe n monster, the first song wz the last night, and i'm like OMG what a great song and it turnz out its nothin comparin 2 other of there songz ;p ..
u rock !!
Amazing | Reviewer: Anonymous | 12/20/09
Skillet is my all-time favorite band and has been for the last 3 years. The first song I heard by them was rebirthing and I loved it. Now I have 5 of their 8 albums and listen to them periodically. My favorite song by them currently would have to be "Hero"
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