Prime Cuts: Anchor, Terrify the Dark, This is the Kingdom
Overall Grade: 4/5
Skillet's wheelhouse is that they are able to craft music that give articulation to the soul. With songs that voice our raving for significance ("Legendary"), our need for healing ("Save Me"), and our desperation for hope ("Never Going Back"), there's a rhetoric in these offerings that are intrinsically human. Thus, it becomes immaterial if Skillet is to be marketed as a Christian act or a secular modern rock band. There's such a universality in these songs that they gel up to our souls. They cling to our psyche because they are tailored made for our hearts. Or to nuance it using Biblical language, there's pint of eternity in these songs that we gravitate to; and such a lure has a way of leading us to our Saviour with or without our knowledge.
Album #10 "Victorious" is no exceptional. Though many of the songs are devoid of any explicit "Christianise," they have such a glaring appeal that anyone with the imago dei will be drawn to. The band has decided album #10 with a more hands-on approach. Frontman John Cooper and guitarist Korey Cooper have decided to handle the production. Though they have not re-invented the wheel as far as the sound-direction goes, they have done a great job in keeping the songs interesting. "Legendary," the album's single and opener, has a nu-metal post-grunge explosive sound. The song packets a motivational message for us to live lives that truly matter.
With hues of rhythmic blues riff undergirding Ledger's rocking percussion, "You Ain't Ready" is one of the strongest call to courage and strength. Jesus' sermon on the mount comes to life with "This is the Kingdom," a clarion call for us not to build empires that disappear with the rising tide. "Save Me," a spiritual 911- tune, is saved from those overtly religious jargons. And it's churned into a classic Skillet banger with those synoptical beats and those ferocious riffs. Electronica makes a brief appearance with "Never Going Back" before the team delves into a shout-out chorus.
Yet, not all the tracks excel. "Back to Life," a bodacious hard rocker, finds Cooper singing about his frustrations and hurts. Though one appreciates the sheer honesty of the lyrics, it reaches a point where it's far too "me-centered." "Finish Line," meanwhile, suffers from too much overcrowding; the layers of mixing simply suffocates the song. The better tracks are those that are simpler without the team trying too hard. "Anchor" is the closest the team has had ever come to singing a worship song. The noodling piano working behind this ballad is just pure heavenly. Not to be missed is the groovy mid-tempo"Terrify the Dark"is a superb song of unwavering trust in Jesus. Lyrically, the song calls to mind Mosaic MSC's "Tremble."
"Victorious" may not truly live up to its titular, but it does offer songs that detail issues that pertain to the struggles of life. And they do lead us to the Gospel in ways that are organic, affective and palatable.