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41 of 47 found the following review helpful:
The alarm goes off with more stimulating rock. Aug 27, 2009
By C. W. Fitch
Skillet's first studio offering since 2006's "Comatose" comes firing out of the box with both barrels, with more of the crunchy, head pumping arena-rock sound and power ballad goodness fans have come to love over the last several years from the Memphis crew.
There are several similarities between this album and "Comatose"; most obvious is the sound. Stylistically "Awake" seems to be a continuation of "Comatose"; more than likely it's what the guys were looking for, and they got it right once again. From the first few songs, it's evident that John Cooper and co. are going by the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy. The only real differences are the near-absence of the prevalent violins from most of the "Comatose" playlist (apparently to make room for more guitars) and the trading of female vocal duties from John's wife Korey to drummer Jen Ledger. The themes surrounding the songs will take you back to 2006 as well, as once again the crew wail splendidly about forgiveness (obviously found in "Forgiven"), overcoming adversity ("Never Surrender"), renewal of faith, and living each moment as if there were no tomorrow ("One Day Too Late", which could pass for the next chapter of "The Older I Get"). Skillet also spend a couple of tender moments discussing relationships; "Don't Wake Me" waxes poetic about a guy trying to hold on to the relationship he apparently messed up, while "Lucy" pays a somber visit to the grave of a lost-too-soon love. The tongue-in-cheek "Should've When You Could've" breaks up the mood a little, though, with a dismissing anthem to cheating ex-girls everywhere.
While it seems the central theme of this album is renewal, as on "Comatose" there are a couple of dark moments within as well. "Sometimes" delves into the ugly side of the Christian walk, demonstrating the potential numbing power sin can have, while "Would It Matter" focuses on someone at the figurative end of their rope, wondering whether leaving this world would make more of an impact than wandering through it.
Skillet overall tell some great stories and offer some pretty good examples of many roads of faith while chugging right along with the same addicting formula that made "Comatose" such a success. The "power ballads" of which John Cooper is so fond (as he's told many a crowd during shows) on "Awake" leave as much of a mark as the arena-pounding anthems, and much as they did on their previous album, will have fans singing right along with the choruses after a few runs through the disc.
Bottom line: if you liked "Comatose", you'll find more of the same to like in "Awake". Skillet's sound of 2006 has in no way gone stale, and crowds will enjoy raising their hands and shouting along just as much when the show hits the road again. (By the way, to those who criticize Skillet for going "mainstream" or "radio-friendly"...sometimes Christian bands will pull that once in a while to get people to listen and find out what they're truly about. Call it either a sell-out move or a stroke of genius, but it happens more now than ever.)
5 of 5 found the following review helpful:
Good, But Not Their Best Feb 01, 2010
By Eric D
I have to admit that when I first heard the hit single "Monster," I didn't like it. I thought it sounded like the rest of the lame radio-rock crop (mainly Three Days Grace). Over time though, it grew on me, as did this band. I first heard them in '04 or so, when "Savior" was all over the radio. I got the album (Collide) from a friend and played it here and there for a few years, never getting that into it. However, this past fall, I rediscovered this band and decided to check out their current works. Enter Awake, their latest collection of tunes. Sure, they aren't that groundbreaking, but in this over-saturated music market, who really is? The fact is that the songs are pleasing to the ear and that's all that matters.
The album begins with "Hero," a rockin' song with a killer chorus. Interesting to note, however, is that the verses are the strongest point of the song, with well-written vocal melodies backed up by an insanely cool guitar riff. This is also where we are introduced to new drummer/backing vocalist Jen Ledger, who shines in both departments, meshing well with the band's sound and contrasting perfectly with lead singer John Cooper's grittier vocal style. The song's bridge is nothing short of a masterpiece, as is doesn't completely fly the listener away from the rest of the song, but doesn't leave you on the ground, bored of the same riff you've heard for two and a half minutes like most bands. After this is "Monster," a pounding rock song that also helps show off Cooper's rough yet strangely warming vocal tone.
"One Day Too Late," although not very musically exciting, is a lyrical masterpiece, with Cooper proclaiming his decision to work harder to change the world in a positive way TODAY, because tomorrow may be "one day too late." Other stand-out tracks include "Never Surrender," "Forgiven," "Don't Wake Me," and "Lucy," which is by far the most emotional track on the album. Starting out as a piano ballad, the song takes an energetic turn with the entire band crashing in as Cooper delves deeper into a sad story of love and loss. Sure, writing a song about a deceased loved one has been done before, but if you listen to this song and don't feel anything at all, god help you, for you have no heart.
The best song on the album has to be "Awake & Alive," which is neither ballad nor rocker. Though the cello and violin are reminiscent of many songs from their older works (mainly 2003's Collide), the track is a breath of fresh air, featuring a decent amount of vocal trading between Jen and John, as well as a ripping guitar solo by lead guitarist Ben Kasica. The best part though is the chorus, which is pure rock and roll genius.
Yes, there is a decent amount of auto-tune (after all, they're on a major label that probably insisted upon it). But it's the same story here as with the A Day To Remember album - look past it and listen to the songwriting. And yes, some of the ballads sound a little forced (namely "Should've When You Could've") but most of the songs are as aggressive as they are catchy. The bottom line is that if you're not a baby and can get past the fact that they are a Christian band (which happens to be one thing I love about Skillet) Awake might be something worth checking out. I almost didn't and am really happy that I did.
20 of 27 found the following review helpful:
Just When I Thought I Had Found A New Favorite Band... Aug 28, 2009
Skillet is a fairly new discovery for me, and I've found their music to be right down my alley. I've been acquiring some of their past efforts, and was excited for this new album. I've heard it several times now, and unfortunately this one hasn't kept that same excitement going. It's not a bad album at all, but I was hoping for something a little better than this.
My main problem with it is that it doesn't offer anything new...recycled melodies (not just of their own past material, but also of other mainstream rock bands) dominate this record, and the lack of originality makes me feel like there's no reason to add this to my collection.
One of my favorite producers, Howard Benson, was directing the show, so I'm very pleased with the sound. But the songs don't stack up to the production quality (my only beef with the production is that the female vocal parts sound like they've been processed using auto-tune software...in other words, they sound a little too polished and perfect).
The opener, "Hero", has a decent amount of power and punch to it, and for me it's the only very good harder song on the album. I didn't care at all for the rocker, "Monster". I haven't counted how many times the word "monster" is sung, but it's a lot...and it gets old fast. Most of the rest of the record consists of mid-tempo, adult-contemporary-type tunes, and while some, especially "Don't Wake Me", do a pretty good job of sending a chill down my spine, the majority don't have any distinguishing characteristics to make them stand out. "Should've When You Could've" is about as cliche as mainstream rock gets, "Believe" has a chorus we've heard a hundred times before, and as the album continues you begin to wonder if the CD skipped and you're hearing the same songs over again. Many of the choruses are virtually identical to each other.
At least "Lucy", a piano/string-based ballad, had an immediate impact on me and strikes me as a song I'll want to hear over and over again. As far as the lyrics, other than "Lucy", I'm not taking in any messages of note. Nothing against Nickelback or Daughtry, but it almost sounds like Skillet tried to make an album with songs that sound like many from those bands' latest offerings. So, while "Awake" is far from being an awful album, Skillet's capable of much better.
29 of 41 found the following review helpful:
Skillet- Awake [crobsession.tumblr.com] Aug 28, 2009
By Christian Rock OBSESSION
The now three-year-old Comatose was the album that put Skillet where they are now. Where exactly are they? Stuck somewhere between tons of Christian fans and tons of mainstream fans. Their fantastic live show and hard-rock/cello style combination have been pulling in more and more loving fans from both sides over the past few years. But it seems that this time, Skillet aimed more at mainstream fans with their newest, dozen-track effort, Awake, than Comatose originally was.
Being a predominantly mainstream artist with Christian faith isn't exactly a bad thing. By sticking subtle messages into the lyrics, the band can reach out to non-believers without overwhelming them. And, as we all know, any clean music nowadays is greatly appreciated among Christian fans, and is a great witness to unbelievers. Something is different about Skillet, and one of these days those mainstream fans will figure it out. It seems abundantly clear in the track, "Lucy," which talks about the loss of someone who was loved. Lead vocalist John Cooper sings, "I'll see you in another life, In heaven where we never say goodbye." All songs can be traced back to God in some way, but you'd have to know Skillet was a Christian band to realize the connection, as there can be many interpretations to more than a few songs.
Another thing the band seemed to aim for this time was to bring back fans of Comatose's musical style. While it seems that in 13 years, an ever-changing band would find some other direction to go with, musically, Skillet seemed content to stick very closely to the style heard three years ago--almost to the point where things are scarily similar. The song "One Day Too Late" sounds way too much like "The Older I Get" in certain places (it even sounds similar lyrically). And while Ben Kasica's guitar solos are pretty unbelievable, the one in "Awake and Alive" almost sounds recycled from "Rebirthing" and would even work as a better sounding continuation of it.
A few differences on the album come from the new drummer fro the UK, Jen Ledger. She does vocals on a few songs (yet she doesn't have any solo songs, which seemed like an obvious thing to do), and is a great addition to the Skillet team. Her vocals are most prevalent in the songs "Hero" and "Awake and Alive," providing a better change from Korey Cooper's more solemn voice. Also, the album is a bit heavier. Granted, there is no screaming (sans a distorted growl during "Monster" just for effect), which I suspected might have been present because of their live CD/DVD. Half of the songs are power ballads, all of which makes it a bit more radio-friendly. That's just one other way they'll be able to reach out to the mainstream. Although half of the time Cooper's growly voice is just enough, I think it would've been cool for him to do a little "Savior" type screams.
There are a few other spots here and there where Skillet went out on a limb to try something new. Besides the mainstream focus and the new BGV, a lot of Kasica's guitar solos are even more impressive than previously thought. Also, a lot of the violins and cellos are a lot more intense in places--and others rather calm and peaceful. They're something that makes the album a lot more enjoyable, added in places where things would've been too dry without.
So, given three years, I think Skillet should've been able to come up with something a little newer for them. That's what an artist is--not making the same album a bunch of different ways to please people. Just ask Emery. But given that the gap between albums was three years, it's good to hear anything new from Skillet. A lot of the songs are very enjoyable, but I think most fans will consider Comatose to be their favorite, something which is always a little hard to duplicate. But Skillet will definitely be picking up a lot of mainstream fans, and I give them a lot of respect for reaching out to those kids who need something good to listen to. The band members all have great hearts for Christ, and this album is going to help stretch out their ministry on a huge scale.
13 of 18 found the following review helpful:
The first mediocre Skillet release Aug 28, 2009
By Chris Chesley
I have been a loyal and passionate Skillet fan since 1995. I have bought every one of their releases, seen them in concert a couple times, etc...
I was very excited about the new release, but after a couple of listens, I am already bored. It attempts to be a follow up to Commatose, so much so that it could have probably been the other half of a double album if done correctly. The problem is though, that though Awake is very simlar to Commatose, it only ends up being a pale shadow of that release. It is a major, extreme let down when comared to albums such as Invincible, or Alien Youth.
There are only about 3 songs in my opinion that are strong, enjoyable songs on here (Hero, Monster, Sometimes). That has never happened to me as I have listened to any album from Skillet. Each release, I have loved every song. There is far too much repetiveness on the disc, as well as far too many ballad type songs. One or two is Ok I guess, but there are about 6 songs that fit that description.
Another thing that really dissapoints me is the overwhelming level of generic, mainstream radio, shallowness that is on display with this release. I mean, I never thought John Cooper would write mushy, young love songs, or ones that show whiny bitterness about past breakups filled with mediocre pop punk flavorings (Should've When You Could've). I mean, gross!
My plea is this: "Come back John! Come back to the jaw dropping musical creativity you have so long delivered. If you feel you must be mainstream, then stick to the feel of Comatose, but please still mix it up some and that doesn't mean going the route of Simple Plan or Avril Lavigne! Be Skillet! Please!"
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