Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review of Skillet's self-titled debut

Reprinted from CMRH, first published 06-24-1997

In the mood for something loud, fast, and totally cool?  Then check out Skillet, one of ForeFront's new artists. Granted I'm about 6 months late on this one, but nonetheless it's a good listen.  From the first slams of "I Can" to the final fade-out of "Splinter," Skillet's self-titled debut rocks. “I Can” plays a musical see saw between the airy guitar and piano during the verses, and the hard core guitar-driven choruses. The screaming and rocking seems a bit out of place with the message - the title is the answer to the simple question, "can I come to you?" - but hey, Christ said to go into all the world preaching His name; He didn't say we had to do it calmly!

"Gasoline" is a pretty innovative idea - the chorus sings (or screams - take your pick) "You want to soak my heart in gasoline, light a match and consume me. You want to soak my pride in gasoline - all of You and none of me." The song is that of a man who is scared of being hurt, scared of letting go of his heart. He is holding it out for God, but would rather have it locked up in a box where it can't be hurt or crushed or broken. But that's not what God wants of him. The song ends with the man's heart sitting on a table next to a bloody mess that used to be Jesus' heart. It's a gory picture, one that some may say doesn't belong in a Christian song. But Christ's crucifixion was hardly pleasant. It was messy, bloody, painful, and gruesome. That's what it took to redeem a lost world.  And sometimes we need to be reminded of just how much Jesus actually did for us so that we don't take it for granted. In light of that, does God really ask too much of us?

I've many times said that an artist painted a picture of this or a portrait of that. By that analogy, Skillet would be the abstract painters who throw paint in front of a high-speed fan, which blows it randomly onto a canvas. They have a perspective on life that's quite colorful, and quite enlightening when you really look at it. "Saturn" is a perfect example of this. It's also proof that there's more to Skillet than just let-it-all-out rock. This song is much more down to Earth, musically, driven mostly by an unplugged-style acoustic rhythm. In their unique style, they allude to the fact that we don't have to see Heaven to know that it's there; we don't have to see Jesus face to face to know that what He did was real.

Other highlights include "My Beautiful Robe," which speaks to the deceptiveness of our own righteousness (or lack thereof); "Paint," a ripping cut with an almost sinister sounding lead vocal through the verses; "Safe With You," a toned down tune about the refuge we find in Christ; "Boundaries," which has some really cool guitar work and a lot of lyrical contradictions; and the totally cool "Splinter," with its truly high quality musicianship.

Skillet successfully blends raucous hard rock, deep and sometimes subtle, sometimes provocative lyrics, and the gospel into a great addition to ForeFront's arsenal. If you can handle a CD meant to be cranked up loud, then pick this one up!

Do you have something to add? A question you'd like answered? Think I'm out of my mind? Join the conversation below, reach out by email at david (at), or hit me up on Twitter at @dnlongen