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reviewed by Russ BreimeierCopyright Christianity Today International
Sounds like … a brief semi-unplugged concert by Skillet, surrounded by a few other DVD extras.At a Glance … a short but interesting little souvenir for fans of the electronic pop-metal band.
Because Skillet has become the flagship artist for Ardent Records, it's no surprise the label would use the band as their first foray into the increasingly popular DVD market. The central attraction of Alien Youth: The Unplugged Invasion is footage of the band performing a 22-minute concert in front of a small group of youth at Ardent Studios in Memphis. While such a brief concert consisting of five songs doesn't seem like much, bear in mind that the quantity of content is reflected in the DVD's low retail price of $5.99.
What's more, it would have been easy for Skillet and Ardent to simply compile concert footage of the band on tour. Instead, Skillet gets somewhat adventurous by performing the set (four songs from their Alien Youth album, one from Invincible) in a "mostly unplugged" setting. Frontman John Cooper switches from electric guitars and bass to acoustic, as does lead guitarist Ben Kasica. Drummer Lori Peters trades in her full drum kit for congas and lighter sticks. The wild card to the band's sound is John's wife, Korey, who still plays synthesizers and keyboards for this performance. Tracks such as "One Real Thing" and "You Are My Hope" aren't all that surprising sounding with Korey playing the grand piano to create a simple acoustic worship vibe. The real surprise comes in the synthetic/acoustic rendition of Skillet's heavy electric rockers such as "Alien Youth," "Kill Me, Heal Me," and "Best Kept Secret." Korey's keyboard effects are rhythmic and inventive, a sharp contrast to the acoustic sounds of the rest of the band. She probably could have played the piano on all the tracks, but it wouldn't have been nearly as interesting a combination of sounds. It's Skillet doing the unplugged style in their own unique way, and in the process showcasing their tight musicianship.
The concert is pretty much the only reason to pick up Alien Youth: The Unplugged Invasion. As cool as the music is, there isn't much that's interesting in the way of visuals during the concert. The DVD also includes a large photo gallery of images taken during the concert, but it feels like filler that would be just as much at home on Skillet's official website. Fans may be mildly interested in the inclusion of the music video for "Best Kept Secret," as well as a ten-minute Bible study led by John to explain the concept of "alien youth." Skillet tries hard to be a true youth group band, with a sound that appeals to teens and young adults, both boys and girls. The provided Bible study tools from this disc and their website (www.alienyouth.com) also may be of use to youth leaders. This is a fairly simplistic souvenir DVD, primarily aimed at the most serious Skillet fans – but at least you get what you pay for in this case