After the sensational gold certified ‘Comatose’ offered Skillet a mainstream breakthrough album in 2006(an album reviewed here as a classic) the line up of the band changed, with drummer Lori Peters being replaced by Jen Ledger. Whilst the line up has changed and Skillet has been renowned in the past from changing direction from one album to the next, ‘Awake’ remains reassuringly similar to its predecessor. The orchestral seismic riff orientated rock tinged with eighties melody remains intact and although ‘Comatose’ producer Brian Howes has been dropped in favour of Howard Benson, his influence remains, with many of the songs being co written with him; ‘Awake and Alive’, ‘Don’t Wake Me’, and ‘One Day Too Late’ being three of note.
‘Awake’ may lack any progression and critics will no doubt highlight the fact that this remains a safe release, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this is an album of the highest quality. In the commercial modern rock genre, this stands on level par with some of the gems released so far this year from the likes of Adelitas Way or Daughtry; yes it’s that good.
The monolithic ‘Hero’ and ‘Monster’- already live concert favourites- typify the Skillet sound; hard-hitting guitar courtesy of the superb yet understated Ben Kasic, the raspy vocals of John Cooper, the resonate melody of the orchestral keyboards and the pay off choruses all show a band at the top of their game. The massive arena lighter waving ballads are still present and correct as they were on ‘Comatose’. ‘Don’t Wake Me’ and ‘Believe’ tick all the right boxes, but Skillet leave the best until last with the spine tingling ‘Lucy’ a song so good that it redefines the term power ballad.
Skillet aren’t afraid to look outside the box as they did with ‘Looking For Angels’ on ‘Comatose’ and the eighties influenced ‘Should’ve When you Could’ve’-a song similar to the material that Faber Drive purveyed so well- provides perfect sing along fodder for those looking to bring the fun back into the modern rock genre.
‘Awake’ is the perfect follow up to ‘Comatose’ and although it perhaps lacks the “wow” factor and huge impact that its predecessor had, musically it is equally satisfying.
‘Comatose’ successfully introduced the band to the mainstream, ‘Awake’ looks to capitalize on their newfound secular popularity and raise Skillet’s profile significantly. Perhaps enough to make the band one of America’s top mainstream acts, something that they richly deserve.