SKILLET UNLEASHED ALBUM REVIEW! 4 SKULLS
It opens with the antithetic Feel Invincible. Guitars and synths mesh in a pretty decent song. However, the lyrics are nonsense. They don't mean anything. Similarly, Back from the Dead can't seem to decide if the protagonist is running from zombies or is a zombie. But unlike it's predecessor, it's not a good song. It could be, if not for the stuttered vocals. And it's not just one instance of them. No, anytime lead singer John Cooper isn't singing part of the song, he's doing them. There isn't a single second of the song where the instruments are allowed to rock without his voice stuttering out the title of the song. This is the worst song on the album.
Stars changes things up - it's a worship song. Not just worshipful, but actually appropriate for corporate worship. Its focus is on who God is and what He's done. There are some synth flourishes in the first verse that I'm not crazy about, but other than that, it's a very solid song and the best slow song on the album.
I Want to Live is the only song with strings, which may be surprising to newer fans who consider it their signature sound, though that's sort of odd. They've had, at most, 3 song on any given album with prominent strings. But I digress. I don't love the way the chorus implies relativism - my faith is right for me. That isn't what the Bible teaches. The truth is the truth, regardless of how anyone feels about it. Awake and Alive had the same problem. Also in the chorus, the line “I may not know nothing else.” I cringe everytime. Outside of the chorus, it's a good song, including harmonized guitars during the solo.
Undefeated is a pump-up anthem. If you liked Pillar, you'll like this song. It's got a pretty decent driving rhythm section, but is otherwise not noteworthy. It isn't especially good or bad. It's just kinda there. Famous sounds like a TobyMac song. It's about the idea of making God famous….and it's a dance song. Dead serious. Skillet has experimented with different genres on albums starting with Comatose. Those Nights was well-received. Should've When You Could've and My Religion…..weren't. It's not bad, for the genre, but it's oozing with cheese.
Speaking of cheese, the CCM-ready track Lions is somehow more cheesy. It has its moments, but overall isn't anything great. Out of Hell seems to be the song everyone is talking about and…..I'm not sure why. Yeah, it's got heavy guitars. It's drummer Jen Ledger’s best drumming on a Skillet record so far. The chorus is great. Catchy, melodic, and driving. But. There is something holding it back from true greatness. Once again, front man John Cooper throws in unwanted vocals on what would otherwise have been a cool section. If the main riff were just the guitar and synth, without the “ohs” on top, this song would've been much better.
Burn it Down uses guitars and synths to create a heavy, distorted sound. It's pretty cool, but the lyrics are nonsense again. And Cooper does a weird breathy thing that I guess is supposed to be fire, but I don't like it. This track is better than Undefeated, but is still mostly forgettable. Watching for Comets is…….a song. I have mixed feelings. Musically, it's pretty interesting. Lyrically, it's usually pretty good. It's about longing for lost love. But the chorus is so, so, so, so bad.
Saviors of the World showcases keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Korey Cooper’s programming skills in Skillet's best impression of Muse. They even have the words “they will not control us” in the chorus! The song itself is about the church’s need to be active in the world as the hands and feet of Christ. A lot of people in CCM world will take issue with the use of the word “saviors” to describe us, but they're all dispensationalists, so that's to be expected.
The Resistance is the best song on this album. No, actually, it's the best song Skillet's done since 2007’s Live Free or Let Me Die. It's much better than anything from Rise or Awake. It's solid lyrically and musically. The bridge is a little odd, and would've been better if they had a musical transition from the chorus to it. And the album outro, which shows off lead guitarist Seth Morrison’s chops, would've been better as a separate track. However, this song shows that the Skillet I remember still exists, while simultaneously damning everything they've done after Comatose - if they are capable of crafting songs of this caliber, why aren't they?
Overall, if you're looking for a fun album, this for you. If the most important thing to you is the music, this album isn't bad. It's generic at some points and cheesy at others, but overall it's fairly solid. But if you value deep lyrics, you would do best to download The Resistance and Stars, giving the rest of the album a pass. If you need good lyrics to like the music, you will not like this album. The bright spots aren't enough to pierce the darkness of the rest. The majority of the lyrics are shallow at best and nonsense at worst.
Verdict: Unleashed is fun to listen to, but it won't be topping any lists for “favorite album.” Its lack of lyrical depth and overuse of pop-cliches hold it back from any sort of greatness.
|2.||"Back From the Dead"||3:34|
|4.||"I Want to Live"||3:29|
|8.||"Out of Hell"||3:34|
|9.||"Burn it Down"||3:16|
|10.||"Watching for Comets"||3:29|
|11.||"Saviors of the World"||3:46|