Wednesday, August 26, 2009


So, it's about time I reviewed Skillet's latest album, Awake. I pre-ordered it a long time ago, and it arrived last Monday. I listened to it once Monday, about 7-8 times on Tuesday, and then another 3-4 times today. (By contrast, I have listened to Comatose hundreds of times in the last three years.)

First, a few notable songs that stand out to me, good or bad:

Hero - Skillet's first single from this album. I was able to download it when I pre-ordered, and I fell in love with it instantly. The lyrics and the music are very powerful. This is exactly what I expect to hear when I listen to Skillet. Hero features Jen's vocals, which I was very pleased to hear. John is a really good (albeit a bit scratchy) vocalist, but a touch of female vocals always goes a long way.

Monster - The second released single. At first, I thought it sounded an awful like like something TFK would do, and I didn't particularly like it so much. The "growl" midway through the song salvaged the whole thing, and it only took a few listens before I grew very accustomed to it, and I now like the whole thing (growl and all).

Awake and Alive - Now this is what I love to hear. I was just as amazed listening to this song as I was when I first heard Comatose. The strings are absolutely incredible, and it's a for sure hit at their live concert. Great to sing along to, and it occasionally gives me shivers. Again, Jen sings in this song, and it adds a lot.

Should've When You Could've - I wasn't so sure of this song when I first heard it. The lyrics are very high-school-breakup-ish, and the music and words are quite repetitive. I found that it easily got stuck in my head, and I didn't want it stuck in my head (unlike every song on Comatose, which I thoroughly enjoy when they get stuck in my head).

Believe - Also a relationship-breakup-ish kind of song (-5 points), but the chord/key progression saves it (+15 points). Not that this is a bad thing, the opening guitar strumming is uncannily similar to Three Days Grace (particularly Never Too Late from One-X).

Forgiven - Musically, not as unique as some of their other songs, but lyrically, very powerful. It has the power to speak for every person on the planet, and is basically worship to God. I love songs like this.

Sometimes - Much harder song, though not in the same vein as previous hard-rock songs like Savior or Better Than Drugs. It sounds much darker, and the lyrics follow the same style. They are actually kind of depressing, so I'll be interested to learn more about it and hopefully gain a new appreciation for the lyrics in the future.

Dead Inside - The first of two "bonus" tracks on the deluxe version, I am surprised they left it off the regular album. Both of them are excellent songs, this one in particular featuring powerful lyrics, excellent supporting string usage, and more prominent guitar riffs.

Would It Matter - Another excellent bonus song! Frankly, I think John's vocals are best on this song over every other. It's a typical bridge between rock and soft/melodic sounding, but it really gives his voice a chance to shine.

So far, I can't say I'm as impressed with Awake as I was with Comatose. With Comatose, I literally liked every single song and could stand listening to every songs a few hundred times, not to mention that most of the album was spent in worship. My overall impression of Awake is that it's less focused on worshiping God but more focused on emo/relationships. I count roughly 4, maybe 5 songs on Awake that can be attributed as some form of worship (Hero, One Day Too Late, Forgiven, Dead Inside, and maybe Never Surrender)--less than half, whereas on Comatose, I count 6 or 7. I feel like Skillet has strayed a little from this focus, especially when I hear songs like Should've When You Could've and It's Not Me It's You.

I also feel like this album is less personal than I would like, but I could be very wrong. I wish that Skillet would do an interview for someone and explain the motivation behind all of their songs...that would definitely help me to appreciate some of the lyrics more.

Musically, it's also somewhat less satisfying than I would have hoped, but I did listen to it a dozen times in two days and am very very pleased with it. I am not at all disappointed...maybe I just set my hopes impossibly high. I was hoping they would do more with strings, but I will settle for Awake and Alive as my goosebump-inducing song. I was also hoping for more harder rock, but not quite as dark sounding as Monster and Sometimes.

At any rate, I am very pleased with Awake, and I would highly recommend it to every single soul who can take a little rock in their diet! I'm super excited for the concert...I still set my hopes high for that...September 24! I can only imagine what some of these will sound like live.

Collide: 8 / 10
Comatose: 10 / 10
Awake: 8.5 / 10

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