Release DetailsLABEL Atlantic Records
RELEASED ON 10/3/2006
posted on 10/2006 By:
About ten years ago, Skillet released their debut Self-Titled album, and the cover art was fitting – a giant, gray skillet resting against a white background. I was thirteen at the time, and because I had absolutely no taste in music, attended a Christian school, and had friends who actually enjoyed this kind of stuff, I caved and bought the record. Months later – and keep in mind this is incredibly embarrassing, considering my audience – I saw them in concert in a church gymnasium. Again, though, I was thirteen and had yet to stumble upon my parents’ old record collection, which featured the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Iron Butterfly, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd, which would be instrumental (no pun intended) in leading me to Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, Opeth, et cetera. Anyway, over the years Skillet went through the usual line-up changes, issued several full-lengths, and are now evidently poised for success having released Comatose via Atlantic.
The most troubling aspect of Skillet, which seems to clash with the ostensible genuineness found in their lyrics, is that the visuals of each album have catered to a different audience. Whereas Self-Titled (1996) was a bit late jumping on the Nirvana/Bush bandwagon, Hey You, I Love Your Soul (1998) displayed no ties to any particular scene since the late ‘90s were arguably devoid of a standout movement, Invincible (2000) latched onto the emo look judging by the band’s haircuts, Alien Youth (2001) was perhaps ambiguous, while Collide (2003), with artwork reminiscent of a restrained Travis Smith, if it isn’t his in the first place, appears to be a hard rock or metalcore full-length with promise of at least some bite. Comatose, however, shows them at their most clean-cut.
As you may have guessed from the label they’re signed to, Skillet play music that is nothing more nor less than radio-friendly, alterna-rock with a spiritual/religious twist. You’ve heard this all before. Imagine the faux-edge of Linkin Park, plenty of strings and keys, vocals that recall Rossdale (Bush) sung by a guy who could visually pass for Stapp (ex-Creed) with short hair, and occasional female interjections a la Amy Lee (Evanescence). Kind of similar to Lifehouse (“Yours to Hold”) at times, or any group that finds themselves on the radio again and again, Skillet are an innocuous yet marketable four-piece. Since they’re neck-deep in Christianity, though, it follows that the lyrics center on The Man Upstairs, the word “you” refers to J.C., and you-know-who is “Better Than Drugs.” Wait, besides caffeine, I don’t exactly believe any of those responsible for Comatose have taken any drugs. Well, maybe some nicotine and/or alcohol in a momentary fit of depravity, or maybe a hit of Mary Jane and an occasional painkiller legally prescribed for, y’know, pain? At any rate, it does indeed come across as hokey as it sounds – in theory, on paper, out loud.
The worst part about Skillet’s latest is that it becomes more nauseating the longer it drags on. And with eleven tracks, it ain’t exactly EP length. Essentially, Comatose is what you hear in Christian coffee shops and bookstores that think they’re going to win the world over even though the message no one wants to hear in the first place (assuming the naysayer has heard it before, and trust me, they have) is inside a saccharine-coated shell. I mean, I naturally have to question why Atlantic would ship this to us. In perusing their roster, the only band I care about – aside from the classics – is, well, Porcupine Tree. As for this, it’s just a waste of fuckin’ time, but I’m sure Skillet don’t give a shit about what MR thinks, which is probably for the best.
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