Artist:  Skillet
Title:  "Comatose"
Label:  SRE Recordings

Somewhere along the way, many of us lost sight of reality. We spend so much time pretending that we don't have any problems and that our lives are perfect, wearing a fake smile on our face like a badge, that we've lost touch with the world around us.

We've forgotten about the pain and suffering that surrounds us all in the name of pretending that we're holy. Ironically, the holiest who walked among us devoted His entire life to reaching out to the needs around Him, angering the religious leaders of the day.

With their sixth studio album (second with mainstream label Lava Records), Skillet hopes to wake Christians up from the self-inflicted slumber of callousness that has left them in a state of "Comatose." The title track speaks to the spiritual numbness of those watching life pass them by rather than actively seeking God's will and participating in life.

Aside from that underlying theme, however, Skillet chooses to bring a few of life's darker topics to light by discussing them throughout the album. The ballad "Yours to Hold" deals with depression and the need to lean on one another (and God) during difficult times of life while "Last Night" deals more specifically with the epidemic of "cutting" and suicide that has become quite prevalent in society but remained a topic that many Christians ignore. The final track, something of an experiment musically with lead singer John Cooper speaking his verses and singing the chorus, emphasizes the impact we can have in the lives of those who are hurting, by reminding us that we can be the "angels" to those in need.

When looking at the music, this may be Skillet's most accessible effort to date. Utilizing the band's past influences and outings, Skillet's managed to forge a sound that couples the anthemic feel of stadium rock with the gritty, aggressive tones of progressive rock riffs. Each song has a stripped down structure that includes well-defined sections for the intro, verses, chorus, bridge and guitar solos. This removes the suspense and intrigue of the tracks to some extent, but the solid execution maintains a high level of excitement for the listener throughout the album. Ranging from the ballad ("Yours to Hold") to the harder tracks ("Comatose", "Rebirthing"), the album really gains momentum with some of the mid-tempo tracks such as "The Older I Get" and "Say Goodbye" which reach out to the nostalgic of rock listeners with a memorable sound. A clear standout on the album, however, is the mainstream single, "Whispers in the Dark" with an intense and sweeping sound.

Skillet has been around for quite a while now and "Comatose" proves to be a fine example of the culmination of years experience combined with a fresh approach and positive outlook on life. As a band, they've managed to progress a step further musically, focus on deeper topics thematically and not lose their distinct identity in the mix. Fans should be pleased with the album and newcomers will find it easy to jump on board. A job well done.

 
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