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Although Skillet is a tight, hard rock band, this Memphis act has become predictable. The group’s songs consistently place John Cooper’s scratchy vocals atop crunchy power chords. Sometimes these chordal patterns are mixed with symphonic synth strings, while Korey Cooper many times jumps in with feminine vocal counterpoints (actually, drummer Jen Ledger is heard adding the most female vocal parts - editor). It’s a formula that still works, even though it no longer surprises.

Ironically this band, which sounds to be artistically keeping itself on a short leash, has titled its latest effort Unleashed. While the sonic remains the same, this act has filled its latest full-length with a series of – for lack of a better term - Christian cheerleading anthems. “Undefeated” utilizes athletic metaphors, which leaves it perfectly suited for ESPN promo commercials. Both “Stars” and “Watching for Comets” are sighting us (and not ‘blinding’ – get it? -- the way Mr. Dolby once sang about) with science, and “Back from the Dead” seeks to transform the walking dead into ones that walk with Jesus, instead. Cuz, of course, even Christian kids know about The Walking Dead. Fans of the group’s extra crispy consistency may be put off by the new wave-y synth pattern that drives “Stars.” The song’s been getting much mainstream Christian airplay, which is usually a band sign for any self-respecting hard rock act.

Not many bands could get away with writing the same song over and over again (Ramones and AC/DC are two ready examples good enough to be forgiven for it). Skillet sounds like it’s been cooking up the same meal just a little too long. It still serves food hot; it just tastes too much like déjà vu. [Atlantic] Dan MacIntosh

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