Skillet has found a music formula that works, and they don’t stray far from it. Their tenth studio album, Unleashed, includes nine signature hard-rock Skillet anthems full of growling guitars, energetic drums, and lyrics shot through with battle imagery. Drummer Jen Ledger provides a quality background vocal performance that complements lead singer John Cooper’s raspy delivery. Because of the past commercial success of this Christian band, Skillet has gained a mainstream audience. In order to connect with this audience musically, they chose a team of experienced producers who have produced heavier bands such as Ozzy Osbourne, Linkin Park, and Disturbed.
The album begins with the first single, “Feel Invincible,” featuring a radio-friendly chorus with which listeners can easily sing along. The second track, “Back from the Dead,” keeps the energy high with screaming guitars and rhythmic lyrics encouraging listeners to stand strong. “Stars” is the first worship ballad of the album. “I Want to Live,” the fourth track, is the first to prominently feature the added strings that listeners will recognize from past work. The album continues with many more battle songs, any of which could be the next radio single.
One of my few criticisms is that many of the refrains and phrases are cliché and operate more as a collage of images and ideas than any coherent exploration of a topic or story. The imagery used—earthquakes, hurricanes, fire, lions, eagles, and even zombies—is familiar and is often found in other songs. These are powerful images, but when they bombard the listener with little nuance or context, they lose that power. Despite the lack of thematic depth, Skillet delivers a musically rich album that will neither surprise nor disappoint their fans. (Atlantic)