Lots of people (even yours truly on occasion) now days will buy a single song rather than the entire album, or they’ll only buy the two or three songs that are played on the radio. But buying and listening to an entire album is a different experience. There will always be songs you like more than others or ones you play on repeat for two hours straight and ones you listen to once and never listen to again. So goes the typical album. It’s a win/lose situation. You take the good with the bad, the great with the mediocre and all from your favorite artists.
Albums show you your band’s ability to reach limits and be diverse. The whole album might be metal to the core with screams and thundering drums and outrageous guitars and you’re really diggin’ it and then…then comes song 10 -the unexpected ballad at the end that makes you go, “What?” Suddenly you see a side of your favorite band you never knew was there. It’s like finding out your dad is really Batman or that your grandma once led 3,000 people down the streets of New York in protest. It kind of blows your mind at first. The unexpected is one of the joys of buying the album as a whole instead of only the singles you already know.
Another one of those joys is when you purchase an album (spurred on by really liking the one or two songs you’ve heard already and since you know this band, you’re willing to take a chance on the whole album) and finding in your possession a complete and total masterpiece. A beautiful piece of art that is worth far more than the money you paid for it.
That is what happened when I bought the Rise album by Skillet. It is, through and through, a piece of art. Everything from the music, to the lyrics and their meaning to the beautiful harmonies of John Cooper and Jen Ledger to the album artwork. It. Is. Amazing. It still blows my mind to sit and listen to the entire album from beginning to end and if you’ve never done so, I suggest you do. It’s an experience.
It’s so beautiful, it’s almost hard to explain. Do you ever get that feeling? It’s truly left me at a loss of words, or at least adequate words. The album is a mix of pounding rock tracks that really drive you to be motivated -anthems to stand up for yourself, your beliefs, and others. Then other songs are of celebration and faith. One song in particular that has really stayed with me is “Good To Be Alive”. This song is so heartfelt and forces me to sing along. The first two songs on the album (Rise and Sick Of It) are harder and then all the sudden you get twirled over into this slower song that has a great beat and is very singable. It’s all about staying together, and not giving up. Hanging on to each other and really appreciating the gift of life and not taking it for granted. It’s a great song.
Another noteworthy thing about the Rise album are the lead ins. This is something I’ve never really appreciated before. I’m in my early thirties. I’ve been listening to music and buying albums since I was a young teen, and it wasn’t until this album that I actually paid attention to, and have come to love, the lead ins. Lead ins are the bits at the end of a track that leads you into the next song. The problem with buying singles is that you can miss out on the art and majesty of a great lead in. That’s something I never would have said before. Rise has some outstanding lead ins, to the point that I refuse to put the album on shuffle because you lose your lead ins when you do that.
And last, but certainly not least, this album really showcases the beautiful stylings of John Cooper and Jen ledger when they sing together. The way their vocals twist together or John will sing the first verse and Jen will sing the second and they throw the lead back and forth, it is absolutely stunning. It’s a treat for the ears and for the heart. They were meant to sing together, and it really shows on this album.
Rise gets 5 out of 5 stars. It’s artistically beautiful and has left a lasting impression on me. After listening to it the first few times and taking in the songs, the art work and videos, my main thought was that it was beautiful. It has inspired me to want to create something beautiful in my writing. Not to just come up with a great story or an interesting plot line. Not merely create memorable characters or an ending that caught the audience by surprise, but something truly beautiful. Skillet has pushed my creative envelope. They have set the example of putting out not just a marketable product or a set of songs that people will like, but showing me that beauty in art still exists.