When I got the chance to feast my large floppy ears on a pre-release of AWAKE, Skillet’s first new album in over three years, I jumped at the chance. Well to be more precise I flying tackled that chance and held it to the ground screaming MINE! MINE! MINE! before quickly dragging it into a tree before the rest of the pack could descend and steal it from me.
Yeah well it might not be the Christian thing to do, but I got to say, that Three Years is a long time to go between albums. When I first heard that a New Album from Skillet was soon to be a reality I was both excited and just a bit concerned. If I have to wait that long for new music from a band, then that music had better be worth the wait. So you might be wondering if it was worth the wait….
The Cd opens with the Song “Hero” A song I got to hear when I saw them play live in Greensburg back in April. You can read my review of the concert over at jtindie.com. This first release is hook-heavy and already climbing Christian CHR (#15) and Rock radio (#6) charts. From the opening chord this song grabs you and doesn’t let go. It is not all that often that I find a song as powerful and visceral as this one. From the beginning to the end this song remains unabashed as it speaks to all of us.
I’m just a step away
I’m a just a breath away
Losin my faith today
Fallin off the edge today
These are the opening words of the song. The song continues to rock and challenge the listener until the end of the song.
I’m gonna fight for whats right
Today I’m speaking my mind
And if it kills me tonight
I will be ready to die
A Hero’s not afraid to give His life
A Hero’s gonna save me just in time
The Cd continues on for ten more songs, Each of skillet’s musical offerings stands on its own and the album as whole really speaks to just how much the band as a whole has matured since putting out Comatose. One of the things I was most pleased to find was that while all the songs sounded like Skillet, the songs themselves didn’t sound like each other. The album is a well balanced and extremely well produced collection of songs that mesh well with each other. I can only imagine what these songs will do the live experience of the concert. I was only a passing fan of Skillet before I saw them live.
It is evident that Skillet has changed the landscape of Christian music with their last CD and three year long tour. Awake has the potential to roll over everything like some kind of juggernaut. Awake will be part of the new standard that other CD’s will be measured against, and it is clear to me that Skillet has, once again raised the bar.
I am having trouble trying to find anything to complain about. Everything from Song order, the production quality of the CD to the striking CD cover art is well thought out and excuted. with 11 tracks and coming in at only 38 + minutes I suppose my only real complaint would be that after three years, I personally would of been pleased to see a double album or something closer to 60 minutes of music. however, I don’t know if 60 minutes of music as intense as this album is, would be possible and I wouldn’t want the songs that are on the album to be diluted by anything that wasn’t up to the quality of the rest of the music on the CD.
So in the end I have to ask myself the question, was this Cd worth the three year Gap. Well I have decided that while I don’t want to have to wait another three years I am very satisfied with AWAKE and have given it the highest score I have yet to offer to anyone with a 4 and 3/4 stars out of a possible 5 Making AWAKE as I have said the new standard by which everyone else must strive for. I am expecting that once this CD drops on August 25th The landscape of Christian Music will once again find itself forever changed.
As I did with Disciple Southern Hospitality I will give you all a blow by blow account of the CD so to speak.
Track 1 - Hero - 03:06
This is the song that everyone has already heard and is probably the most signature skillet song on the CD. Which is, no doubt, the reason that this song was released as the single. From the First Chord to the last this is 100% Comatose. I can even see where the smoke would shoot out from the stage.
Track 2 - Monster - 02:58
This track has a harder sound than what I am used to with skillet. The Idea behind the song is pretty clear. “I hate what I’ve become the nightmare’s just begun i must confess that i feel like a monster” All of us have a dark side that we need to saved from. While this song is harder than what many people would think of when they think Skillet, I find this song to be a breath fresh air and it keeps the CD from falling into the trap of the Signature Sound. When you listen to the Song you don’t doubt that you are listening to skillet and the same time you know you are hearing something new.
Track 3 - Don’t Wake me - 03:56
Here the CD makes a marked turn into the land of Power ballad. “Don’t Wake me cause i don’t want to leave this dream, don’t wake me cause I never seem to stay to asleep, I know when its you I’m dreaming of I don’t want to wake up.” The overtones of unrequited love are so strong as to remind me of the times I felt (and still feel this way). Sometime the only time you can be with the one you love is when you dream about them.
Track 4 - Awake and Alive - 03:31
Skillet returns with a song so strongly influenced by the comatose album (and after touring for three years who could not be influenced by Comatose) that each time I hear it I think I am listening to the wrong CD. The strings that begin the Song are so synonymous with Skillet that I have to imagine that any other band does this at their own peril. With lyrics like “I’m at war with the world cause I ain’t never gonna sell my soul. I already made up my mind no matter what I can’t be bought or sold!” the meaning behind this song is clear. Personally I can’t wait to see them perform this Live with thousands of people singing along. I’m Awake, I’m Alive, I know what I believe inside!
Track 5 - One Day to Late - 03:40
Once again the style of music changes here, and while this song stops short of the Ballad I got to say that this song really touches me. I find myself listening to the words and wondering along with John, am I making the world a better place? “Today I’m gonna try a little harder Gonna make every minute last longer. Gonna learn to forgive and forget cause we dont have long, gonna make the most of it. Today I’m gonna love my enemies. reach out to somebody who needs me make a change, make the world a better place cause tomorrow could be one day to late.” The song is clearly about making the most of each moment since tomorrow may be one day to late.
Track 6 - It’s not me it’s You - 03:25
From the beginning chords and thrashing guitar it is clear this is an angry song. “Let get the story straight, you are poison. you flooded through my veins you left me broken you tried to make me think that the blame was all on me. with the pain you put me through and now I know that its not me its you!” This song is clearly aimed at all the people who look down on others for all the various reasons. i.e. clothes, music, tattoos. instead of seeing what God sees, A child he loves. Even when people treat us bad, we can turn to Christ and find ourselves empowered by putting our hope in Him instead of letting someone who’s giving you a hard time wear you down.
Track 7 - Should’ve when you Could’ve - 03:32
This song has a real 80’s sound, and reminds of one of the typical break-up songs of that period.
The song is about a girl being caught red-handed. While the song has a light and almost airy feel the message behind the music is pretty rock solid. You have to do the right thing when you get the chance to do since if you don’t, you very well may not get a second chance later.
Track 8 - Forgiven - 03:39
This is clearly one of the most overtly Christian song on the CD. While it is almost a federal law that a Christian band has to have a song about forgiveness, Skillet takes the concept on from a different angle and talks about not just the idea of letting someone down and being forgiven but also about acting in the forgiveness and not beating yourself up over the times you have failed. in this I am reminded of Luther’s saying Sin boldly for Christ forgives bolder still.
Track 9 - Sometimes - 03:29
This is a song I am kind of unsure about. From the very beginning the song has a very dark sound. This song is clearly about the struggle we all have with the darker part of our lives, and we all know of times when that darker part has won out. “Sometimes I dont want to be better. Some times I can’t be put back together. sometimes I find it hard to believe there someone else who can be just as messed up as me.” I am reminded of what Paul wrote in romans.
Romans 7:14-20 (NIV)
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
While the song is dark I find some peace in knowing that I am not the only one who feels this way.
Track 10 - Never Surrender - 03:31
from my research I found that the original inspiration for this song came from a conversation John Cooper had with someone who was battling an eating disorder. “Do you know what its like when you’re scared to see yourself.” is the first line of this melodic pop rock sounding song. The idea that you don’t like who you are is something I am all to familiar with. in the song you hear the cry “You make me feel better, Put me back together, I don’t want to feel like tomorrow I don’t want to live like this today” Just having someone there for you, whether that is God or family member or just someone to listen to you and share your pain, Someone that isn’t going to give up. This is a rocking song with a solid message.
Track 11 - Lucy - 03:38
At first listen I thought I knew just what this song was about. The idea of losing someone close to you. “Hey Lucy I remember you name, I left a dozen roses on your grave today, I’m in the grass on my knees wipe the leaves away. I just came to talk for a while got some things I need to say.” As I listened to the song, over and over again, I realized that there was much more to this song. The Idea that there is always a chance of a brand new start. This is easily the most melodic song on the CD and vaults over Ballad and lands clearly into the Cell phone/Zippo light burning in the dark style of song. I loved every second of it.
There has also been talk of a 12th song being added however there has been no confirmation of this at the time of publishing this. I would love to know what you think about the CD or at least “Hero” You can call in to 206-666 5453 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org