Released: Jun 25, 2013
Genre: Alternative Rock, Christian Rock
Label: Word, Atlantic
Number Of Tracks: 12
Skillet reach deep into their catalogue, and with their new album resurface the addition of dominant synthesizer playing; but do the vocals hold it all back?
RiseFeatured review by: UG Team, on june 27, 2013 5 of 12 people found this review helpful
Sound: Christian rock band Skillet have been playing the music scene since the late '90s. Their hardcore sound, similar to those formed around the peak of the grunge rock music era, immediately caught the ears of metalheads, and following the release of their self-titled debut album in 1996 Skillet began to build a worldwide fan following. Since their debut, the band has gone on to release a total of now nine studio albums, and it wasn't until most recently that Skillet's music has started to received considerable recognition. Their 2006's album "Comatose" showed the band significantly lowering the use of synthesizers and bringing the heavily distorted guitars higher in the mix. It was this seemingly simple change in musical composition that broadened their audience, and following its release soon charted Gold and was even nominated for a Grammy award.
Their latest, titled "Awake," showed the band staying consistent to this preset pace, and was certified Platinum, as well as won multiple prestigious awards. And with their new studio album, "Rise," fans will find Skillet revisiting some of their earlier elements, while also staying in the direction more evidently showcased in their past two records. The opening track, which also bears the same name as the album, is a mix of early and more recent Skillet, with broad orchestrations, synthesizer playing, raging lead vocals and broad vocal harmonies. From a musical standpoint, the new album heavily resembles the sound of bands such as Flyleaf and Paramore, mostly because of the dueling screaming male vocals and soaring female backup singing. Overall, I felt that the album failed to meet its preset expectations, but still was a very good album that fans of the genre and the band should be able to appreciate. // 7
Lyrics: Lead singer John Cooper is most frequently featured throughout the new album, while drummer Jen Ledger is found popping up seemingly from nowhere at times with her backup singing that doesn't work too well with the piece as a whole. I would have liked to have more consistent mix between the two vocalists throughout the new album, I feel as though that would have greatly benefited the album from a musical standpoint. Lyrically I found Skillet's new album very lacking. As shown throughout such songs as the aforementioned title track, the vocalists simply repeat one phrase over and over again in the chorus, such as "Rise / Rise and revolution / Rise / Rise and revolution." When instrumentally the songs were enjoyable to listen to, lyrically they held the entire piece back, and this prevents the entire album from being able to easily transition from song-to-song when the lyrics are a consistently weak factor. // 5
Overall Impression: With "Rise," Skillet give a commendable performance as part as the actual music goes, by combining the synthesizer elements of their earlier work with the most recent guitar oriented style showcased in their past two studio albums, most likely in an effort to keep up their current RIAA certified album streak. While instrumentally the album is standout and enjoyable to listen to, the repetitive lyrics and out-of-place backup singing are an unignorable factor that holds back the entire album. This album comes recommended to established Skillet fans, as well as general fans of the alternative metal genre. If you can look past its lyrical side, then "Rise" will be an album you'll find yourself going back to listen to time and time again. // 7
TremontiAddict, on july 09, 2013 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: "Rise" marks the 8th studio album for Christian rockers Skillet, and this release features the band at the top of their game. Following the platinum hit success of their previous album "Awake," the band has returned to unveil their first ever concept record onto the world. The album follows a story based on finding faith in a world full of chaos. Lead singer/bass guitarist John Cooper describes the protagonist of the album with the following quote. "He's coming into adulthood and he's faced by the horrors that we see every day-floods, bombings, earthquakes, school shootings. He's also faced with his own problems from his family life. It's about his path to salvation, and wanting to be significant in some way. The record has a lot of ups and downs, all leading to this salvation experience."
Fans of Skillet will recognize the signature sounds of the band throughout "Rise." Korey Cooper's (backing vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, synthesizer) powerful string arrangements and creative synth work greatly define tracks such as "Rise," "Not Gonna Die," and "Fire and Fury." New guitarist Seth Morrison puts his staple on this album with the guitar driven rocker "Circus for a Psycho." Morrison also shows impressive solo work on "Salvation," "Not Gonna Die," and bonus track "Freakshow." Skillet have become well known for being high energy, symphonic rockers, and "Rise" is no exception. // 8
Lyrics: "Awake" was the first Skillet album to feature drummer/backing vocalist Jen Ledger, and on this release, her vocal presence takes front and center on multiple occasions. While John Cooper is still the primary lead singer of the band, Ledger can be heard singing lead lines on multiple songs such as "Not Gonna Die," "Fire and Fury," and "What I Believe." The pivotal point in the concept of the album's story comes in with the track "Salvation" which features Ledger taking over lead vocal duties.
The album's musical arrangements compliment the lyrics well. The angsty, guitar driven tracks such as "Sick of It," "Madness in Me," and "Circus for a Psycho" are accompanied by aggressive lyrics. "Circus for a Psycho" opens with these lines. "You push me till I break, and the anger turns to rage // Why can't you just leave me alone? // Got your finger on the trigger, you think that you're the winner // But you're gonna get kicked off of your throne."
The band also shows its softer side on songs such as "American Noise," "Salvation," "Fire and Fury," and "Hard to Find." The following lines from "Salvation" show John and Korey Cooper's ability to write more vulnerable lyrics. "Been out from under who I am and who I want to be // Held you tightly in my hands, why are we unraveling? // Was it me? Will you come to my rescue? // Or did I push too far when I turned my back on you?" // 9
Overall Impression: As a long time Skillet fan, I think "Rise" holds up well compared to the rest of the band's discography. From a guitar player's standpoint, Skillet's songs have never been very complex, but I feel "Rise" includes some of the band's best guitar work. I love that the band decided to bring Jen Ledger's voice out in the front more on this record, but I'm not a fan of the overproduced vocal effects that can often be heard throughout the album. My biggest issue with a lot of modern rock is the "over polished" sound heard throughout the industry, but I think the songwriting on "Rise" makes up for most of this.
All-in-all, Skillet have released a very solid album with "Rise." My initial favorite tracks are "Rise," "Not Gonna Die," "Salvation," and "Circus for a Psycho." "Rise" shows that Skillet are still capable of doing what they do best, and I'm excited to see where the band goes from here. // 8
Blazingguns00, on july 09, 2013 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: This is a band who have simply improved with every album. "Rise" shows a progression in their musical direction, with even more rhythmic guitars, the introduction of some interesting solos (check out the "Freakshow" solo), and more use of female backing vocals, on which both Jen and Korey perform outstandingly. The use of keyboards also fits in well with the rhythm of the guitars, and gives some depth to the melody of the songs, setting Skillet's 6th studio effort apart from other bands and their other releases. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics cover a wide range of topics, but are on similar terms to the other albums. There is an overall dark tone to the album, with songs such as "Everything Goes Black" and "Hard to Find" being almost ballad like. The vocal quality is outstanding, John Cooper has really outdone himself on this one, with a range of vocals from gritty rough growls on "Rise" to soft crooning on the slower songs. They are suitably anthemic, giving the album a very uplifting and inspiring feel. I would particularly recommend a listen "What I Believe" and the title track, "Rise." // 8
Overall Impression: I personally love the album, and would probably buy all of my friends copies if I had a spare 200, but not having that I'm limiting myself to buying the CD and a spare copy. This is definitely an album I will replay well past its time. I doubted they could improve from Awake, but they have. Skillet show a huge amount of promise in every aspect, I will certainly be following them more closely from now on.
The high point of the album for me was "Freakshow," as there is a smooth flowing feel with the rolling bassline and gritty guitars, mixed with the vocals. The low point for me, as a mainly hard rock and power metal listener is the lack of solos in the songs, but they have improved on this already! Definitely a buy, and at least have a listen to the album! // 9