Review Summary: Snapshot of what could have been.1 of 2 thought this review was well written
Ahh, Christian Rock. Never before has there been anything as divisive as it. Ranging from decent at best to cheesy/awful at worst, there seems to be no middle ground. You either love it or you don't. But here are the facts. 1) Whether or not you hate Christian rock, tends to have a little to do with the music, and alot to do with how you feel about Christianity (or at least, how's interpreted) and 2) Christian Rock is a very, very, VERY lucrative market. It's a miracle (pun totally intended) what adding a little Jesus to your lyrics can do for album sales. But even the most ardent believer can admit that this probably has alot less to do with the magic of the lord and lot more to do with the magic of having a fan base for which music is mostly secondary. Simple put; Christian Rock is popular for being Christian that happens to rock, and not the other way around.
Obvious brick out of the way, what does this mean for Skillet? Filling in the vacuum left by Creed after a certain Scott Stapp found a way to torpedo a meal ticket and frankly a vacuum nobody thought needed to be filled) Skillet arose on the scene to give those youth something to have good clean fun to. Skillet these days is really more known for it's anvilicious lyrics (They love them some Jesus), average to appalling vocals, and setting the bar for the most middle-of-the-road/generic as hell rock and roll this side The Niaggra. But shockingly enough, a quick trip to wikipedia (and finding the unicorn that is a Skillet fan over 25) revels that not only has their sound changed drastically, but so has their lineup. For instance did you know Skillet was a 3 piece band upon inception? And they sorta didn't suck such a fat one? Let the learning begin!
Skillet features John Cooper on bass, piano and (laughs)..ahem, Vocals. Trey McClurkin on drums and backing vocals, and Ken Steorts on guitar, backing vocals, and something called a "guitar synth". No I didn't make up those names, and no I can't tell you where the hell those other two guys are. But Skillet the three piece, channel a very much Nirvana inspired sound on this album. Maybe it's just my weakness for grunge, but after gritting my teeth and pushing play, I was pleasnty surprised. Is it good grunge? No. But it's far more passable then one would give Skillet credit for.
Hear you quickly learn that the Jesus loving was never a gimmick they threw on later, which at the very least makes Skillet an honest band. But the lyrics are just clumsy as hell. Granted with awkward song titles such as "Truth Blender" and "My Beautiful Robe" you don't exactly expect poetry. But here, the lyrics don't even sound cheesy and forced (as they would soon become later in their carer) they just sound BAD. And bad lyrics paired with bad singing, makes for a pretty terrible vocal offering.
Thankfully, as instrumentation goes, this really isn't a half-bad album. John can't sing worth a damn but for this kind of music, it actually sort of works. One almost wishes he could pull of a half-decent Cobain impression to bury the lyrics.The drums are perfectly average (and there is nothing wrong with this) but the stand out on this album by far is Ken " Steorts. The music stays heavy and catchy, riff after riff. And there's even some creative flairs with that "guitar synth" that geunely surprises in songs like "Paint" and "Boundaries". Ken left the band after the sophomore album, ending the possibility of Skillet sounding like anything but generic post-grunge, and this album and their follow-up "Hey You, I Love Your Soul", remain a reminder of what could have been. Skillet probably wouldn't have reinvented the wheel, but they might not have lumped up as much hate over the years.
Skillet went on to tweak their sound, added a few new members, fell in love with glossy studio production, and the rest is history. The Skillet that was, was wiped clean from history and in its place, the Skillet of new. There passion about their faith has only grown in the years, and I suppose that's something worth being proud off. One only wishes their passion about music had done the same.