Since breaking out, Grammy-nominated and Dove Award-winning Christian rockers SKILLET have been averaging a new album every three years since 2003's "Collide". In the wake of the release of 2013's "Rise", John Cooper — SKILLET's lead vocalist, bassist and co-founder — reportedly began writing the songs for the band's new album, "Unleashed". After the band's last touring cycle for 2013's "Rise" ended in 2015, SKILLET once again tapped into the services of their producer for 2006's "Comatose", Brian Howes. Working with Howes for half of "Unleashed", they next turned to the venerated Seth Mosley, Neal Avron and Kevin Churko to complete the new album.
"Unleashed" heavily emphasizes keys and electronics, and the mid-album track "Famous" is one of the danciest numbers SKILLET's yet whipped up. Later, "Saviors of the World" ushers the band to a next-gen level. SKILLET's been through numerous lineup changes, but no one following the band is going to argue that the band is on fire with the current lineup: John and Korey Cooper, Jen Ledger and Seth Morrison.
The FILTER and EMIGRATE-esque electro shucks pumping through the upbeat "Feel Invincible" kicks off the album with a message of self-empowerment. Later in the album "Undefeated" carries the same missive, but with louder guitars and organic drum pumps. For SKILLET fans, "Feel Invincible" will be the perfect launch song as it sets up the somewhat meatier "Back From the Dead". The song is greased lightning and stupid catchy as one can hear the shake within John Cooper's voice matching the bumping groove. The synth-spritzed ballad "Stars" is tailor made as a reprise melody for a blockbuster chick flick, and it'll be stunning if Hollywood misses a chance to capitalize on this one. Ditto for the opportunity to spread the cheeky "Famous" like a red-carpet virus among entertainment tabloid shows and paparazzi parades.
"I Want to Live" is going to be an immediate fan favorite with its endearing duet and soaring choruses, while "Lions" is the spiritual stew to win SKILLET another gimme Dove Award. That's only if the driving "Out of Hell" and "Saviors of the World" don't beat it to the finish line first. "Burn it Down"'s throbbing riffs are instant firepower for SKILLET's live sets and a likely addition to barbell pumpers' iPod playlists.
SKILLET may not be for everyone (creed or musically speaking), but for the uber-oiled style of proto-pop rock this band writes that's hardly for pure metalheads, "Unleashed" is a mighty fine, frequently addicting album. No doubt the Coopers are polishing up their acceptance speeches.