I still haven’t gotten back to writing on a daily basis but I am slowly working my way back to it. I am trying to write something every day but I haven’t really come up with anything significant. I was listening to the new Skillet album on Spotify yesterday when I realized that they have been around for twenty years. I still consider them a “new” band so it’s kind of strange to think about. After I finished listening to the new one (Unleashed) I decided to listen to their first one.
I remember buying the first Skillet album (on cassette) back in 1996. I picked it up at the Christian bookstore at Golden East Crossing mall. It was called Lemstone and I got to know the guy who owned because I hung out there so much. They had a listening station where you could pop a new album into one of the cassette players and check it out before buying it. I actually bought quite of a few of the demo cassettes when they finally sold them. I honestly don’t know how many Christian cassettes I had at the time but it was a lot. I did have a CD player by 1996 so I don’t know why I bought the Skillet album on cassette. There’s a good chance that it was one of those demos. As I sit here listening to it this evening it is hard to believe that it has been twenty years.
I wasn’t a stranger to Christian music. I had been listening to Petra, Stryper, Whitecross, and other bands for ten years. However, I was no longer a teenager and I had made a conscious decision to be more serious about my faith. I had been married for five years at that point and I had just become a father for the first time. It had been a little over a year since I had dropped out of Bible college and nearly given up on Church. I was also trying write my own songs and start a band. The first Skillet album was right along the lines of what I was trying to accomplish. People would probably call it grunge or post-grunge now but to me it was just modern rock. There was a Seattle influence if you want to call it that but they weren’t trying to sound like Nirvana.
By the time their second album (Hey You, I Love Your Soul) came out in 1998 they had added an overt electronic influence (think NIN Lite) and had altered their appearance to match. 2000 brought a straight worship album and Invincible, which built upon the electronic (industrial) sound. 2001’s Alien Youth moved them closer and closer to something similar to Marilyn Manson but not as dark and heavy. It also marked the second major line up change. Collide came out in 2003 and moved towards a modern hard rock sound. The line up remained together and recorded Comatose in 2003. A final line up change (as of now) took place in 2008. Since then Skillet has released three studio albums (2009’s Awake, 2013’s Rise, and Unleashed). Each of these albums maintains the tight, highly polished hard rock that Skillet are now known for.
Skillet aren’t a great band (there really are very few) but they are solid and consistent. Even with the various style shifts they have gone through over the years they have put out good music. They continue to do see. I have seen them live several times. The first time was back in 2001 after Alien Youth had just come out. The most recent was just a couple of years ago while they were touring for Rise. Like the Newsboys, they put on a very entertaining show whether you are a true fan of the music. I like what I’ve heard of the new album and if I get the chance to see them live again I probably will. I’ll close by sharing a few photos I found online of the band throughout the years. It’s interesting to compare the one from 1996 to the one from 2016.
Grace and peace