MUSIC REVIEW: “Unleashed” by Skillet

MUSIC REVIEW:

Skillet is one of those bands whose songs you’ll hear on the radio, and you’ll look them up to see that they’ve been around forever.

Seriously, they’ve been around since 1996. At the time of writing this, they have 10 studio albums.

So, as a band that has enough albums in their catalogue to provide several hours’ worth of listening material, they’re bound to have an album or two that leaves a bit of a sour taste in one’s mouth.

There are numerous opinions floating around as to which album that is. Some say their last “good” album was 2003’s Collide, or 2006’s Comatose, the album which brought Skillet mainstream success.

Some say Skillet was never good to begin with.

However, in doing my research, I noticed a common consensus that Skillet’s ninth album, Unleashed, is bad across the board.

And boy, is the common consensus right.

The album starts off well enough with “Feel Invincible,” an inoffensive arena rock anthem. It’s an alright song, if not for a questionable line or two.

For example, from the chorus: “Like a tidal wave / You make me brave.”

Cheesy? Yeah. I mean, how does a tidal wave make someone brave?

I think the metaphor they were going for is that tidal waves are powerful, so the unspecified “you” makes the vocalist feel powerful, but the execution was way off.

Regardless, it serves its purpose as a dumb line that you’re supposed to sing along with and not think about.

While I’m on the topic of metaphors, let’s look at this line from “Lions:”

“If we’re gonna walk, we walk as lions.”

I understand what they were going for. Lions are symbolic of courage and tenacity, which is all well and good.

However, it falls on its face when you remember that lions are dangerous wild animals that would gladly kill a human being if the opportunity presented itself.

But moving on for now, the third song is where I run into problems.

“Stars” is an ingratiatingly slow ballad. I have no problem with slowing things down, pulling out the acoustic guitar and getting a little sensitive, as long as it is done right.

Skillet has never done a ballad right.

Now, for those who don’t know, Skillet is a Christian band. The members are unabashed about their faith, and they even preach at some of their concerts.

I have no problem with them being religious; however, I do have a problem with their slow songs being very obviously the “religious” songs.

These songs play and they sound like modernized hymnals with generic instrumentation and lyrics so on the nose that there isn’t even a shadow of a doubt as to what (or who, I should say) the song is about.

It’s Jesus, every time.

Honestly, I don’t care that much about what a song is about, it’s more the fact that these ballads feel so forced and unnatural in the progression of the album is what I take issue with.

It’s like they made a pact that for every two rock songs they wrote for the album, they had to write a cheesy ballad to go along with it.

Of course, it’s their band and they can write about whatever they want, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t criticize how they go about it.

This ties into another album-wide problem. Each song is either a breakneck pump-up jam, or an excruciatingly slow religious ballad. All of which are clichéd to the core.

And that’s it, that’s the entirety of the album. The foot is either flooring the gas, or slamming on the brake.

That’s a musical no-no. There needs to be balance.

How the songs mesh and flow together is an important aspect of the album because it determines how your emotions flow as well.

Think of it like a firework display.

You’re not going to light off mortars first and then firecrackers and sparklers in between said mortars, right? Of course not! You’re going to start small, ramp it up, then finish with a grand finale!

This album does not do that. It starts off with the standard fireworks, takes a break to light some sparklers, and then lights off more regular fireworks.

It’s irritating, and it gives me headaches to listen to.

Final Rating: D

This album feels like a side project that was never supposed to see the light of day, but it ended up being released anyway.

The subject matter of the album is so plain, I’d even go so far as to say there isn’t any subject matter because every song is about “rising up,” or “resisting” something.

Or it’s a cheesy pop-rock ballad about being strong.

It’s all so droll and shallow.

And that’s not to mention the superficial metaphors and the emotionally draining way the songs flow together.

This album is a chore to listen to and it gives me conniptions to think about.

I would recommend listening to Collide instead, or anything else, really.