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Skillet – Dominion Review

Genre: Modern Hard Rock

Label: PLG UK Frontline

Release Date: Out Now

Line Up:

John Cooper, bass, lead vocals,
Korey Cooper, rhythm guitar, keyboards,
Jen Ledger, drums, vocals,
Seth Morrison, lead guitar,

Production \ Engineering \ Additional Song Writing Credits – Kane Churko & Kevin Churko

Skillet continue with this, their 11th studio album, to push the boundaries of what their fan base will accept as the definitive sound for the band. ‘Dominion’ sees the band dipping their toes into experimental waters once more adding subtle but still impactful variations to each track. The end result offers a heavily aggressive album, at times verging on the output that one might expect from bands like Korn or Papa Roach. Bassist and vocalist John Cooper clearly has a point to make and his hammering of his instrument of choice has probably resulted in the poor bass being retired at the end of the recording sessions.

Elsewhere both Seth Morrison’s and Kory Coopers’s playing and chord progressions in the songs have a real sense of change and differing approaches, something that the input of Son & Father duo of Kane and Kevin Churko, has cleared benefited from. Fresh ears, fresh input and and a fresh sound for the band’s first album after leaving Atlantic will make the execs at their former label regret letting them go I’m sure.

Opening track, ‘Surviving The Game‘ eschews the approach taken on both 2016’s Victorious and 2019’s Unleashed where the crunchy guitars aren’t the driving force, the band instead opting for a more alternative style not dissimilar to Korn’s ‘Freak on a Leash‘ at times. It hooks the listener in from the off and of course, the hook is always key, especially these days with so many alternative acts waiting to steal your fan base at the slightest hint of apathy towards a release. By the time the chorus hits, the ‘true’ sound of Skillet returns and any doubters can have their fears alleviated. Alleviating fears is something that peppers the album as well, but more on that later.

Standing in the Storm’ follows with the classic Skillet sound but before we get complacent and start thinking ‘same old, same old’ input from external sources start to exert their influences and shape the rest of the album. The combined writing team (with the Churko’s undertaking the Mutt Lange approach to getting the best out of the band) present an album that sums up the frustrations of the last two years any by the time the title track comes crashing through the speakers thanks to Cooper’s pummeling, we are in no doubt just how much the band have been affected by the global crisis that was supposedly going to last no more than 6 months back in 2020.

Yet here we are in 2022, a new Skillet album on the shelves offering hope and optimism for those that are willing to move past the heavy alternative but still melodic rock sound and dive into the lyrics. The lyrics have always been close to the band members’ collective hearts and it’s easy to see why. The lyrical content of the album encourages people to stand up, take note, take stock of who they are, where they are and what life means to them. Don’t hide in isolation, don’t live in fear of the unknown, as with everything there is a need to rise above it all and the album encourages us to do just that, supported by some thunderous music to really ram the point home.

There are moments when the pressure is lifted. ‘Valley of Death‘ is one such moment with some beautiful piano work courtesy I’m assuming of Kory Cooper. It reminds us that when necessary, John’s voice can do the softer material without the booming power that comes on the crunchier, more powerful numbers.

The one in particular that moves me completely is ‘Forever or the End‘. A stunning ballad sung as a duet between John and Jen and it offers up some 3 mins and 30 seconds of calm, the eye of the storm almost, sitting inside a huge, chaotic and aggression fueled album. It’s the sort of song that those of us who grew up with arena rock in the 80s would be hoisting the lighters high singing along to this. For those without lighters, the ‘double fist to the chest’ pose as we sang along would be struck every time the band performed it live. Timeless and emotional, the song delivers in spades and needs to be heard. To think it almost didn’t make the album is shocking. Whoever decided to keep it deserves a medal.

If you want an album that mixes it up, offers hope when you can’t easily find it somewhere else and provides an outlet for your own frustrations then look no further than this gem. If you feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world at the moment then listen to ‘Dominion‘ and feel that weight lift. This isn’t a push towards religion or suggesting that you need to find your faith, just simply an album from a band that, through the music they produce, help you find some light in the darkness and right now, that might be just what we need.

Score: 9/10

Reviewed by: Adrian Hextall

 

 

 

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