Skillet - 'Unleashed'

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Skillet - 'Unleashed'

It feels fresh, dynamic, uplifting and altogether, as a body of consistency, it's Skillet's best album since 'Comatose'.

The tenth album from the Memphis quartet sees the band retain the unmistakable Skillet signature whilst adding something new and dynamic to the eclectic songs on offer. John Cooper's voice and the male/female counterpoint vocals with the ever excellent drummer Jen Ledger make the band instantly recognisable.

The sound on 'Unleashed' is one of the most expansive that you are likely to hear; Opener 'Invincible' is Mutt Lange-esque in its drum sound and punch, whilst the sweeping uplift of 'Stars', with its nod towards Owl City, is an audio heaven of swirling synthesiser and layered vocal melody. Similarly, the exquisite 'Lions' is a soaring ballad that makes the neck hair stand on end. Skillet even dabble in Dance Rock on 'Famous' – and less so on 'Saviours Of The World' – which is resplendent with crunching guitar and squelching synth beats; the synthesiser is something that punctuates the album throughout, with Corey Cooper's inventive programming coming to the fore. Some of these songs are perhaps shaped by producer and co-writer Seth Moseley, more familiar to fans of the Dance Rock of Family Force 5 and the Pop Rock of Jeremy Camp or Audio Adrenaline.

For those missing the hard boiled Rock anthems of the previous three albums, there's no need to despair as 'Unleashed' is peppered with them and they're perhaps some of the best that the band has ever committed to disc, something of a paradox in this day of digital files. 'I Want To Live' is one of the greatest songs that the band has ever written – typical Skillet. With clawing harmonies and a massive chorus, it's hard to believe that Atlantic weren't keen on the song. It has comparisons to producer Brian Howes' co-write 'Awake And Alive' from the 'Awake' album.

Elsewhere the Euro-Metal crunch of 'Out Of Hell' and 'Undefeated', both produced and co-written with Kevin Churko, is a welcome twist and the phenomenal riff-orientated 'Burn It Down' perfectly marries huge hooks with a visceral guitar gut punch.

Cooper says that the band took a bit of a gamble going with the flow of the songs on 'Unleashed', making it less intense and more upbeat than 'Rise'. The gamble has paid off handsomely, Skillet has managed to tweak their musical direction whilst retaining their identity. It feels fresh, dynamic, uplifting and altogether, as a body of consistency, it's Skillet's best album since 'Comatose'.

Mike Newdeck

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