Throughout their seven- (soon to be eight) year career, I’ve followed the Christian rock band Skillet. Undoubtedly one of the most talented and proficient bands in the genre, they’ve evolved from quirky electro-rock to the blistering crunch of 2003′s Collide to…well, whatever you can call Comatose. The mix of classical strings, hard rock guitars, and John Cooper’s defiant vocals is epic at its nadir, apocalyptically gorgeous at its apex.
The thing is, I don’t need to defend this band to you. If you never listen to a single Skillet song, or never experience a single Skillet show, that’s your loss. If you can’t get over the “Christian” label and hear some of the best modern rock music of the decade, it doesn’t affect me in the least. But for your own musical edification, I recommend listening to them. Sure, audaciously religious lines like “your love is better than drugs” can grate on the average person a little, but most of Comatose isn’t religious. It’s open to interpretation. “Your touch used to give me life” (the AFI-style “Falling Inside The Black”) or “no, you’ll never be alone/ when darkness comes I’ll light the night with stars/ hear my whispers in the dark” (“Whispers In The Dark”) are loving – possibly bordering on obsession – whether they’re written to God or to a woman.
Like Creed, the band’s overarching sound seems to encompass spirituality as well as as secularity, and I think that mix of the Eternal and the Mortal lifts the bands’ music to its stellar status. The album is full of dynamic moments, from the soft rhythm of Cooper’s spoken baritone on “Looking For Angels” to the opening strings and drums of the album’s title track. In between these (what I previously labeled the “Eternal”) are the grounding moments – the ballad about maturing entitled “The Older I Get” or the album’s only weak moment, the wimpy “Say Goodbye.” But hey, all bands are merely human and therefore imperfect – I’ve never heard even a Christian band proclaim themselves divine.
For the collision of the stars and planets; the epic war of the soul vs. the body; some of the best usage of strings in hard rock music ever. Try “Comatose,” “Rebirthing,” “Falling Inside The Black,” and “The Last Night.” And hit up their new album Awake on August 25, 2009.