Review Summary: Skillet make many statements on Rise. The loudest of which being that they're back.
After Awake it would have been easy to write Skillet off. After impressing with Comatose, Awake was a less exciting verge into the mainstream. The whispers of wasted potential and sellout started circulating among their less-than-diehard fans. After 11 years together the band finally made it big with Awake. Unfortunately this fame came at a cost. The cost was a massive decrease in quality. Awake was saturated with generic radio rock and poorly constructed ballads. When it was announced that this was a concept album following the typical American teenager going through the hardships of life, it gave the skeptics little confidence that the album was going to be any better than Awake. The same concept has been done a number of times in recent memory to varying degrees of success. It didn't work for Shinedown, why should it work for Skillet.
As mentioned previously Rise is a concept album that deals with the typical American teenager going through life and seeing all the wrong that's happening. To get the concept across the album is split into three acts. The opening act which runs from the opening track till "Not Gonna Die" The second act from “Circus for a Psycho” to “Madness in Me” sees the character come to grips with how shocking the world is and the tribulations within his own life. The final act runs from "Salvation" 'till the conclusion. We get the feel of the albums protagonist boldly proclaiming their love of Christ. Given it's no Operation: Mindcrime but is a well done concept album nonetheless.
This band is far more overt with their religion on this album. Reminiscent of the band's Alien Youth days. A simple glance at the track list will show you this,. At one point the Cooper's daughter ,Alex, gives a reading from Isiah 53 " He was pierced for a rebellion crushed for our sins. He was beaten till he could be whole. He was whipped till he could be healed. All of us like sheep have strayed away. We have left God's path to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all." The track which this verse acts as an interlude to "Salvation" sees drummer, Jen Ledger, taking over lead vocals. the lyrics of which continue with the religious theme. "Keeping me alive, you are my salvation." The track which follows "Fire & Fury " is based off a verse from the book of Jeremiah. Although Skillet are overt with their Christianity on Rise it shouldn't deter any atheist listeners.
Following the departure of guitarist Ben Kasica, Seth Morrison was brought in and does an ample job replacing him. He really makes tracks such as "Circus For A Psycho" his own and really saves tracks such as the title track. The album frequently uses synths reminiscent of the bands Alien Youth days. The band progresses on the use of strings that they introduced on Comatose to give an "epicness" to the album. Jen Ledger is far more prominent on this album, even taking over lead vocals on the song "Salvation." This feels refreshing as John Cooper voice continues to feel increasingly strained.
This album is essentially a culmination of the bands work throughout their career, and it's a fitting tribute. It takes influence from each Skillet album since Invincible. This is what fans were hoping for from Awake. Although it has its flaws, it is still a well made album which will leave fans excited for the next outing of the band.
Recommended Tracks :
Circus For A Psycho
Not Gonna Die (With the last minute of Good To Be Alive)
What I Believe