Skillet
Comatose


4.0
excellent

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
December 13th, 2012 | 110 replies | 3,794 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Better than you might expect.

The world of CCM (short for “Christian Contemporary Music”) is essentially the realm of preachy, force-fed anal waste meant to appeal to a crowd who doesn’t want to listen to church hymns; just look at bands like Jars of Clay and Newsboys diligently following the pop hits around them to create bland “soft rock” hits for the masses. Keep in mind that I’m not trying to beat a dead horse by bashing CCM (Lord knows so many people have already… no pun intended), but finding a truly memorable artist in the genre is immensely difficult. There are always bright lights in every genre however, and for every Casting Crowns, there’s always a band like Skillet to keep things interesting.

While Skillet may not be specifically inclined with CCM, their style certainly taps in the genre quite a lot; the biggest difference is in how heavy their sound is compared to that of, say, Dc Talk. Skillet’s sound started out as industrial alternative rock, but evolved into a heavier, grungier style with 2004’s Collide. With the total reinvention of their sound, you’d think that maybe the band would play it safe with the next record, maybe let Collide’s successor be a nice rehash; that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth when you sink your ears into 2006’s Comatose.

Instead of following straight on the heels of Collide, Comatose brings in a cleaner production, more orchestral elements for a grander feel, and a much darker atmosphere (whereas a lot of Collide sounded more angst-ridden than dark). The lyrics, while containing familiar Christian concepts, add a secular flavor and thus are able to relate to a wider audience. The most refreshing aspect of the lyrics is that they aren’t so preachy and blunt; the Christian elements (much like with As I Lay Dying) are much more subtle than with other Christian rock/CCM artists.

Getting down to the music, the eleven tracks contain a balanced mix of alternative metal, symphonic touches a la Evanescence, ballads to even out the heavy moments, and dynamic vocal work from singer and bassist John Cooper. Every song is relatively short, which is actually a good thing since Skillet are adept at leaving their mark without sounding overbearing or starting to drag. For instance, album closer “Looking for Angels” uses spoken word to get its point across, but never comes off as sounding contrived or out-of-context with the music; plus, despite it being the longest track on the album, the narrative keeps the song progressing smoothly without any bumps in the road. In essence, that’s the best way to describe the whole experience: smooth. Songs like “Yours to Hold” and “The Older I Get” represent the band’s more vulnerable side, but in no way that threatens the atmosphere created by the clean guitar chords and layered keyboard effects. Similarly, the heavy tunes like “Rebirth” and the fantastic title track mix crunchy guitar backbones with a symphonic touch on the keys to give a nice balance. Sure, the band can abuse the formula sometimes to play it safe; sure, bands have adhered to this style before. Nonetheless, it still works wonderfully, and makes for very effective dynamic contrasts as well as extra little nuances of atmosphere here and there.

Unfortunately, the record starts to get a little stale in its second half. The album starts to get that “been there, done that” syndrome as it wears on, eventually running out of the ideas it had so plentifully before. The other issue is that the lyrics can get a touch too heartfelt, sometimes to the point of blandness or cheesiness. “Yours to Hold” is a decent ballad (if a real step down from the songs before it), but the blatant simplicity of the poetry John sings really bogs it down, and the chorus is almost unlistenable because of the same issue.

The rest, however, is alternative metal gold. In a genre (or style to be precise) like Christian rock, Comatose is Skillet’s big stand; it proves that with some real effort, bands in this style can really strike a chord with the public and find praise from even detractors of religious music. Even if you aren’t a Christian rock fan, this still manages to be an impressive balance between the grit of hard rock and the polish of clean, well-composed alternative music.



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user ratings (551)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
ImTheOnlyThugInTheBuildin (3.5)
Hugely flawed, but great nontheless...

Adam Amanse (4)
Skillet have made a name for themselves, and have shown that they have what it takes to write a grea...

Steven McMahan (3.5)
The always evolving Skillet have left behind the generic hard rock of Collide. The strings and pian...


Comments:Add a Comment 
toxin.
December 13th 2012



11804 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great stuff
idc what people think about the band; this album is awesome

AtomicShane
December 13th 2012



1582 Comments


i remember kids thinking they were so hardcore listening to this.

Digging: For The Fallen Dreams - Heavy Hearts

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
December 13th 2012



18591 Comments


another good review. I think Collide is better than this one but they're new one is painfully average

Digging: Somos - Temple of Plenty

breakingthefragile
December 13th 2012



2935 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome album.

Toondude10
December 13th 2012



1816 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review of a nice album!

Digging: Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas...

MiniatureHorse
December 13th 2012



908 Comments


This is their only decent album, imo. The rest is meh.

MiniatureHorse
December 13th 2012



908 Comments


Nice review, though. Pos'd

skoopy48
December 13th 2012



1308 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

soooooooo mediocre

Crawl
December 14th 2012



1382 Comments


band sucks

Digging: The Menzingers - Rented World

Minus.
December 14th 2012



2666 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Bottom of the barrel of mediocre and boring bands

TheSupernatural
December 14th 2012



850 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Some really good rock songs in Rebirthing, Comatose, and Whispers in the Dark. Still bit too radio friendly in a lot of the songs... I guess it's what you get for being a Christian band.

Digging: Cage Grind Noir - Pilots

KjSwantko
December 14th 2012



8717 Comments


This album is surprisingly good; there are a couple really fun jams on here.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
December 31st 2012



7838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

m/

cinaedus
December 31st 2012



26195 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

a highlight of the genre, not that that's saying much

demigod!
December 31st 2012



40970 Comments


must admit I always dug the sound these guys have


LOUD GUITARZ

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
December 31st 2012



7838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

THA GUITARS OMG THEY HAVE SUCH A CRUNCH TO THEM

cinaedus
April 6th 2013



26195 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

so much nostalgia here

toxin.
April 6th 2013



11804 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

*twinkly piano*
COOOMATOSE I'LL NEVER WAKE UP WITHOUT AN
OVEEEEERDOSE OF YOUUUUUUUUUU

cinaedus
April 6th 2013



26195 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

the breakdown at the end of whispers in the dark is so good

toxin.
April 6th 2013



11804 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The guitar solo in it used to be the best thing ever



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