Skillet had a lot to prove with their 2016 release Unleashed. Victorious, the band’s latest effort, does not hit me in the same way, however, the group nails it by delivering a dozen powerful songs. A front to back album that I will certainly not skip a single track no matter how many times I listen to it.
Legendary opening up the flood gates is an explosive way to get started. This is the new anthem for the Christian rockers with its booming bass, heavy riffs, and proud, scream-along chorus. They could not deliver a more powerful beginning.
Possibly one of the catchiest songs in Skillet’s arsenal, You Ain’t Ready beats me with its aggressive positivity. The shortest runtime off Victorious, yet it lands every punch with its heavy industrial elements and in your face attitude.
The title track is an atmospheric ride that blends an orchestral aspect with the hard-driving riffs. One of the most complex and layered tunes in the quartet’s history. Jen Ledger’s impactful drumming, Seth Morrison’s vicious riffs, and John Cooper’s raspy voice top it off as Victorious defines what this record is all about.
Pop sounds have always been a staple in the distinct style of Skillet. This is the Kingdom is arguably the catchiest and poppiest across any previous release. More simplistic than the title song, it focuses on melody and an electronic background to give a unique personality compared to everything else on the album.
Korey Cooper keeps herself busy by whipping out her synth magic and keyboard skills for Save Me. The sporadic playing keeps me on my toes as more reserved styles blend with aggressive riffs and some crushing drumming power.
While the heavier side of the record can be relentless, nothing tops Rise Up. I got pummeled with its fierce energy. This will surely be played for an intense work out as I felt like I was going to start sweating just sitting in my chair with my headphones on.
Turning to a more somber approach, Terrify the Dark switches into a darker tone. Stripped down to the bare minimum for its instrumentation, the singing becomes that much more haunting.
Reverting back to the high energy and positive vibes, Never Going Back feels like traditional Skillet through and through. A sing-along chorus and hard-driving verses fit in the formula that feeds my addiction of this group.
Reach has a sense of never feeling safe as its verse is ready to pounce for an attack. The chorus is chaotic as every element from instrumentation and electronics come together for a wild ride.
Winding back a little, Anchor is the most emotional song of the dozen creations. An intimate feeling that has spikes of excitement while not taking away from the somber tone.
Finish Line reminds me of mainstream poppy rock bands with its electric aspects and steady pacing. A more radio-friendly song that works with the panhead style while taking me a step back to adjust as I get a taste for what I am hearing. The weakest of the bunch, but nothing I would skip if it popped on.
Bookending the record with an explosive finale. Back to Life brings out the metal influence that flows in their blood. Balancing held back verses and getting right in my face with a fearless attitude. Concluding everything with a surprisingly heavy breakdown and vicious solo, making this the perfect ending.
The latest release could use some different subjects as Cooper repeats himself on his lyrical themes of positivity and getting back up to fight. While it does not shatter the record holder for the best Skillet album, it is a contender the second place. Fans need to grab ahold of Victorious while outsiders will probably not be sold on the continued direction.
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Image via Atlantic Records