Christian rock for some reason always gets somewhat frowned upon by some music fans, in particular rock fans, especially when it’s widely known that a band represents that. Look at bands like Stryper who have always maintained their beliefs, and I’m not scared to say that I caught a Stryper bible at one of their shows and I dug that. I may not be religious but that’s not the point when it comes to music… music to me is a feeling, an emotion and can pick you up at any time regardless of content. So enter Skillet and their awesome new album ‘Rise’…
I’ll set the scene for you, it’s Sunday morning, I’m a little tired and preparing for an interview with John from Skillet, so I press play on my advance of ‘Rise’ and within seconds, I am awake (pun intended) and had the feeling I was in for something I was going to like. Title track ‘Rise’ is the perfect lead off for the album, it’s loud, proud and lyrically uplifting, and the vocal trade-offs between John and Jen are perfectly suited to this song and the band and is a part of what has helped propel them to the status of where they are now. The narrative throughout the album sees ‘cut scenes’ intertwined between tracks and helps to set up this concept as the tracks flow and tell a story. Lead single ‘Sick of It’ is so good, musically and arrangement wise, it works, a great bridge and chorus with a hook and perfect choice to promote this new album. Loved that track, BUT the ballad alarm has just gone off and I’m in my element… always a sucker, you should know that by now but ‘Good To Be Alive’ is my favourite track on the album and I’m only three in, yeah good luck trying to top that one, Skillet… but seriously, when I talked about music and how it makes you feel, this is a track that is for lack of a better word ‘uplifting’ and positive. Structured perfectly and with a melody that makes a song, and many bands could learn from a song like this. As its operatic outro leads directly into the rockin’ ‘Not Gonna Die’ which is another I shake my head at, this one though stands out with a guitar solo thrown in for good measure, but vocally again, John’s raspy rock voice blends perfectly with Jen’s and harmony wise I can’t fault it at all, plus again, this band knows how to write a song and in particular a chorus.
‘Circus For A Psycho’ has a bit of a ‘Thunderstruck’ element to it with its riff throughout, but this fast paced rocker is heavy and has its place on the album, but ‘American Noise’ keeps my ballad alarm in a job and is almost anthemic in its creation, I see many a fist raised and hoisted lighters burning many fingers if this gets a run at shows, oh wait, I’m old school, I mean phone raised as this is suited to it, and lyrically this is as you’d expect, great message and just an all-round good song, plus with a kick ass middle 8 in there for good measure, you can’t go wrong, this was a great song. Again, no time to dwell in ballad land… ‘Madness In Me’ with its detuned guitar twang, it sets up another standard Skillet track, and I mean that in a good way, they have a formula and it works, the underlying keyboards help fill the track and I can see this one being a staple at a Skillet live show for quite a while.
Jen takes lead vocals on ‘Salvation’ and what a perfect choice for this song too, the song lends itself to her voice, with John’s coming in and emphasising her voice throughout the song, this works, well. Lyrically, it’s a love story, and a good one at that. Then with ‘Fire and Fury’ a great album track in here, not my favourite by any means, but in the piece of the story here it works, then we have ‘My Religion’ with its swagger and a little bit of a different feel here for Skillet and its inclusion of a little of ‘Amazing Grace’ which I can honestly say I’ve never heard done before, interesting… I was starting to worry that the album was getting a little weaker as we headed towards the end, now with only two tracks to go, it is redeemed with ‘Hard to Find’ and another power balladesque track, and just hits a groove that works, and I’m thankful that it has, great track this far in. We close the album with ‘What I Believe’ and we went out as we came in… rockin’, what a perfect choice for the last track, this is a song that has that hook, and brings back that feeling, it drew me in and made me feel it, there was something about this one, as it’s written and structured so well, and this really was the best choice to end this story. It ends abruptly and with that, ‘Rise’ has risen and has ended.
I’m not sure why there are so many worries about a ‘change’ or the inclusion of ‘new elements’ this time around for Skillet, I mean, what I hear when I’m listening to ‘Rise’ is a band that has made one heck of a rock album and one that I think will surpass their predecessor ‘Awake’ as it truly has the potential to, given the chance. I loved this album and I hope you do too.
From: Memphis, TN, USA
For fans of: Rock
Release date: 21 June 2013
Record label: Warner Music Australia
Producer: Howard Benson
Sick of It
Good to Be Alive
Not Gonna Die
Circus for a Psycho
Madness in Me
Fire and Fury
Hard to Find
What I Believe