Top positive review
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The alarm goes off with more stimulating rock.
on August 26, 2009
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.)