Tuesday, October 31, 2006

InReview: Album of the Year

Christian rock has come a long ways since its roots decades ago in acts such as Vector and Stryper. Today, new acts have appeared and climb the charts with crunching guitars and catchy hooks. To succeed, each group has to differentiate itself from all other groups, develop a distinct sound that will set it apart from other musicians. Some groups fail to do so and just add to the noise, some succeed and develop a following, and others, simply put, rise above all else. With their latest release, Skillet has fallen into the last category. The group’s latest project, Comatose, came after their widely acclaimed 2004 release Collide and had a lot of hype to live up to. Not only did Skillet rise to the challenge, they surpassed it.
From the opening track and lead single, “Rebirthing” to the end track “Looking for Angels” the group reaches listeners of all age groups with its unique blend of pop/rock/metal. Lead vocalist John Cooper channels his raw, sometimes raspy vocals and is accompanied on many tracks by his wife’s melodic voice. “Rebirthing” sets the tone musically for the album. The opening violins pave the way for the searing electric guitars and the harmony of vocals are amazing. A unique characteristic of the group is its ability to go from heavy rock, to acoustic tracks such as “Yours to Hold” to energetic pop (“The Older I get”). Throughout Comatose the group takes a step back from its hard-core rock roots and ventures into some lighter rock, on tracks like “Those Nights” and “Looking for Angels.” But the group does not altogether forget their roots and belts out an anthemic hook on “Falling into Black” and “Comatose.”
But perhaps the most notable quality of the music is its lyrical depth. The group seeks to minister to people of all ages but also of all backgrounds. The theme of the album follows the title, comatose, awakening to a new life in Christ. Awakening from a lethargic lifestyle and relationship with Christ and pursuing Him actively. “Rebirthing” starts the track off on this message with the line “Rebirthing now, I want to live for love…want to live my life want to give everything.” The title track says, “Comatose, I’ll never wake up without an overdose of you. I don’t want to live I don’t want to breathe unless I feel you next to me.” The group also addresses a couple of practical issues. In “Better than drugs” the group aptly says that God is better than drugs and He is the only One to help someone overcome an addiction. In “The last night” John Cooper speaks to people who cut themselves and how with God, “This is the last night you will spend alone I’ll wrap you in my arms so you know you’re everything to me.” Such a beautiful thought.
All in all, from beginning to end, an unbelievable album. Lyrically, musically and vocally this is my pick for album of the year. If you buy one CD this year, let it be Skillet’s Comatose!


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