Review Summary: The always evolving Skillet have left behind the generic hard rock of Collide. The strings and piano that made short appearances before are included to their full potential, making for a good, diverse rock album
John L. Cooper - Vocals, bass, piano
Korey Cooper - Keyboards, vocals, piano, programming
Ben Kasica - Electric and acoustic guitars
Lori Peters - Drums
Skillet has seen and done lots of things in their 10 year career, putting out 6 albums that change their sound slightly with each new release. They’ve gone from grunge, to electronica and industrial, before the hard rock/alternative metal dominated sound of their last release, Collide
. They succeed at almost everything, and that is definitely true of the newest album, Comatose
. Here we see them move away from the generic and formulaic sound of Collide
, adding strings and piano, while also putting more ballads into the mix.
In the first few seconds of opener Rebirthing
, the band showcases an almost epic sounding string arrangement, and makes it clear: the music has changed again, this time for the best. But just as quickly Lori hits the drums a couple times, setting off the rest of the band to come in rocking full force. There is yet another string sample, but it acts as more of a lead guitar lick than something separate. For the usual soft verse, the intro string “riff” is played on guitar. As with each first track, we have a very energetic and catchy chorus, with another surprise: John’s wife Korey is back on vocals. After singing her heart out on the softer parts of Alien Youth
, someone decided to shut her up for all of Collide
. The mix of her beautiful female voice effectively creates balance with John’s throaty, raw shouts. Following the second verse and chorus is a well-executed bridge, and yet another surprise: a guitar solo. (Which I believe
the band hasn’t done before, now they appear on 3 tracks) All in all the song is an excellent representation of the things you can expect on the album, and the obvious choice for main single.
As for the rest of the album, it’s sounding much better than Collide
. While the electronic and “classical” elements were present there, Skillet put them on the back burner while focusing on rock. There is piano and strings throughout the album, but like Collide
they are usually in the background, adding to the music. When they are in the foreground it tops off a great song instead of dominating the music (like the sometimes annoying synthesizers in Alien Youth
). Along with heavy, energetic songs there are also about 4 slow songs that work very well and have variety amongst themselves. Skillet also tries some new things, such as Those Nights
. I was reminded of modern Relient K when I first heard the song, with its pop-punk sounding guitars, piano-driven verse and shouts of “Oh oh! Oh oh!” But unlike the majority of Collide
, there are no shouts of “ohhhhhh!!”, “yeah!!!!”, etc; that act as filler. Instead of 10 songs averaging 4 mins, there are 11 songs averaging about 3 1/2 minutes.
Now to the bad parts: they are few but still there. My main problem with this CD is that they did not use Korey’s voice to its full potential. She sounds great on the songs where she is present, but why not use it on at least one of the ballads? (Especially since there are several) John has a good voice, but it’s definitely not what one would call “beautiful”. Letting Korey belt it out on a ballad would probably improve them greatly.
Another small but noticeable problem: the track order. After only two solid energetic songs, in comes Yours to Hold
to break that energy. While I do love the song, I am accustomed to having at least 3 heavy songs before a slow one. Falling Inside the Black
and Whispers in the Dark
are two of the best songs, yet they are placed near the tail end of the tracklist. Why not put them closer to the front?
In conclusion, this is great music from a great band. Less filler and generic sounds as well as new influences that work well with the music. If you haven’t tried anything Skillet has cooked up yet, this is the time to try a taste.
Yours to Hold
Whispers in the Dark