Rise, Skillet’s eighth studio album, incorporates elements reminiscent of previous records – industrial sounds from Invincible and Alien Youth, melodically-driven rock from Collide – and is a good step above 2009’s popular Awake.
What sets Rise apart from the other releases in Skillet’s discography is that it is a concept album. Interludes between tracks help loosely weave the songs into a story about a teen transitioning into adulthood, coming to grips with his faith in the chaotic world he lives in. For example, immediately after the final chords fade out in the feel-good, heartland rock ballad “Good to Be Alive,” a girl sings, “Despair / You come to me with your poison and your misery / Oh, death! / You come to sting with your poison and your misery.” It’s a hauntingly beautiful transition to the synth-heavy, rock anthem “Not Gonna Die,” where lead singer John Cooper declares, “No! / Not gonna die tonight! / We’re gonna stand and fight forever!”
The story masterfully builds through the final five tracks, each track adding a layer of faith within the story so that by the final track, “What I Believe,” the protagonist can sing “You are what I believe / I’ll live and die for you / This is all that I need / When nothing is real / You are my truth!”
Notable songs include the chaotically aggressive “Circus for a Psycho,” which highlights the guitar prowess of Skillet’s newest member Seth Morrison. “My Religion” has a funky southern twang, and “Fire and Fury” is superbly canorous.
As a whole, Rise is a decent rock album that helps revive the band after the mediocre Awake, yet it’s still unable to rise above the impressively unique sound Skillet perfected during their classic years.