When I first put in Collide, the major label debut from Skillet, it
sounded a lot like every other hard rock band being overplayed on radio today.
Walls of guitars are layered on top of homogenized arrangements, with vocalist
John Cooper screaming almost as much as he sings his lyrics. But then I read the
press notes and learned a few things that make this four-piece band from Memphis
stand out. First of all, it’s not a bunch of 30-something guys being fueled by
what’s left of their testosterone. It’s Cooper on bass and vocals, his
keyboard-playing wife Korey, 19-year-old guitarist Ben Kasica and a chick (Lori
Peters) on drums that pounds the skins like John Bonham. Couple all that with
the fact that this band has already released four records on their own and sold
more than 400,000 units and it’s plain to see why Lava plucked them like a ripe
“Forsaken” opens the record and is an in-your-face rocker, though it lacks any
particularly memorable qualities. The first single, “Savior,” shows how Skillet
can shift gears with precision by going from acoustic ballad to mid-tempo rocker
in the same song. “A Little More” has the mainstream crossover potential that
made Creed an overnight sensation; it’s melodic and pretty and ballsy all at the
same time. The title track really shows off Cooper’s vocal chops. If I have any
problem with this record as a whole, it’s that a lot of the songs sound the
same, but somehow the musicianship of Skillet makes up for it.
Collide may have some generic qualities, but something got Skillet to
this point. Though they might have the male/female lineup of Abba, they rock
more like Fuel, P.O.D. or Evanescence. They’re an above average group of
musicians with a few really great songs, enough to keep them around for a while,
or at least until their guitar player is old enough to drink.