Man, how long have I been listening to Skillet… at least 8 or 9 years. The first Skillet album I listened to was Collide and it served as my introduction to the hard rock/metal scene. As the years have gone by, whilst I’ve maybe not listened to Skillet as actively as I used to, I’ve still kept an eye on them. When this new album got announced, I figured it was about time I relived my childhood somewhat.
Opening up the album is the first single from the album, the aptly titled “Feel Invincible”. A powerful and uplifiting track with the now commonplace synths making up a large amount of the soundscape. “Back from the Dead” brings in some of the older style Skillet with guitar driven songs with the expressive singing from John(Vocals and Bass). The only really complaint I have is that the chanting of the word “back” could have been left out, it doesn’t really fit in there…
“Stars” is a song which is rather different to the Skillet I used to know. A heavy synth laden song, with not a lot of focus on the guitars. Not that it’s a bad thing, in fact it’s a rather nice change and makes for a rather nice and relaxing listen. Now, the next track is anything but relaxing. “I Want to Live” feels as though it could almost have been on Awake and Alive. Showing off drummer Jen Ledgers rather impressive vocals, the song features a rather impressive guitar solo and a rather hard rock esque ending.
Now, the next song is probably one of the most ‘metal’ on the album. “Undefeated” fits in well with the title of the album and has a rather impressive groove and an almost FFDP (Five Finger Death Punch) style bridge with the semi-harsh style “I”‘s. “Famous” on the other hand, is mainly synth based with an overall quicker feel and also a rather catchy- pre chorus section. “Lions” continues with the synth based pattern but is quite similar to “Stars” in the overall instrumentation and style.
“Out of Hell” brings the guitars back with the synths dropping back into a supporting role as heard before. Thundering drums, driving bass and guitars and the vocals of John and Jen all combine to make one of the most memorable tracks on the album. The pace slows down somewhat for the next track “Burn It Down” but the instrumentation remains more or less the same. It’s similar in feel to the track “Monster” and it’s just as catchy as that one is.
Slowing things down again a tad is the track “Watching for Comets”. This songs shows off more of John and Jen’s rather impressive clean vocal ranges and styles. With a slower overall feel, it makes for a nice interlude from the intensity of the previous two songs. “Saviours of the World” opens with suspended synth patterns before the other instruments bring themselves in and dot themselves about here and there. Having an anthem style to it, it’s the sort of song that would go down really well in a live situation with some lasers and flamethrowers.
And the final track of the album, “The Resistance”. Like “I want to Live” the track feels as though it could have been lifted from Awake And Alive. It makes for a suitable ending to this rather varied but very enjoyable album.
Now, I’ll admit that it’s been a couple of years since I really listened to Skillet again. That break it seems was not warranted as they are just as good as they were then as they are now. With this new album, they’ve certainly not been afraid to tone things back for certain songs and also increase the intensity on others. Whilst there are some things in the album which I’m not really a fan of, they don’t spoil the overall item and actually make it one of best Skillet albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. Hell, it might even be the best…
Standout tracks: Feel Invincible, I Want to Live, Undefeated, Burn It Down, Saviours of the World.
Unleashed is released on August 5th via Atlantic Records.