Skillet has done the impossible; they’ve stayed together and continued to release amazing Christian rock albums for close to 30 years.
Amazingly, they’ve maintained a consistent sound while still evolving and growing to keep things fresh. It’s been more than enough to keep longtime fans happy while inviting a new generation of Christian rock fans to the table. And while they’ve seen some members come and go, lead singer John Cooper and wife Korey Cooper have anchored the group with a signature Christian hard rock/nu-metal sound.
The true secret sauce of Skillet however is pairing John’s roar with an equally strong female vocalist. For many tracks, that voice is his wife, Korey Cooper’s, and when blended together, creates a haunting effect. This combo continually elevates their brand of rock and tracks like ‘Surviving The Game’ on their new album, Dominion, is no different.
The hard-hitting song kicks off the album, an anthem for standing firm in your faith despite adversity; a common thread in Skillet’s 11 album catalog.
Cooper crafts the perfect lyrics for his growling voice as he sings,
“In the face of the fear,
I keep stand-in’ tall
‘Cause I will conquer this
I come out like a lion
I was born to be demon-defiant
And I won’t ever let this kingdom fall.”
The fiery delivery also matches John’s own personal witness of faith in the news. In recent months Cooper has given a public critique of the Christian deconstruction movement that has seen celebrity pastors and musicians leave the church in favor of a more relativistic spirituality.
Cooper has defended his beliefs and you can see where this conviction comes from in lyrics like ‘Standing in the Storm’.
“Nothin’ left to be decided
‘Cause I won’t be quiet
When they threaten
Through the hate and the violence
Got truth on my side and
Love’s my weapon.”
It’s easy to imagine the kind of storm anyone would face after taking a stand in a public forum, especially if it goes against the grain of popular culture.
While the fight songs are energizing, Cooper’s metal voice also soars in the stripped-down ballads, ‘Valley of Death’ and ‘Refuge’, the latter channeling their early roots at a worship band.
Even though the pounding guitars are toned down, the message still lands as Cooper sings,
“I know how this ends,
I’m gonna make it
Your Word is in my heart,
None could ever take it.”
Finally, near the end of the album lies an absolute gem, ‘Forever or the End.’ On it, the Coopers perform a duet that draws on the passion and pain that comes with over 20 years of marriage.
With a surprising amount of raw reflection and direct lyrics, the husband and wife sing of the ebb and flow of loneliness and reconnection that occurs in a decade-spanning marriage.
“I’m afraid I’m disappointing you
I’ve still got some hope in my heart
But I don’t even know where to start,” he sings.
“When you said/forever
Is this what you meant?”
However, the song lands on an uplifting note without undercutting the raw emotions.
“It’s never over
Let’s start it over
It’s not too late to start it all again.”
The song beautifully captures how it feels to be hurt by a spouse, and the impulse to shoot back in return, only to dig deep and summon the courage to apologize and set aside your pride.
In the end, Skillet’s 11th studio album carries the same energy and creativity as their first, but with an experience, you won’t likely find from any other band making music today.
If you’re a longtime fan or just hearing them for the first time, Dominion is definitely worth a listen.