Not every rebellion gestates in darkness. As one of the best-selling rock bands of the 21st century, Skillet continue to rebel against conventions, doubts, expectations, and rules with the intent to uplift in light. The two-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated Pandora Billionaires Club members and multiplatinum Kenosha, Wisconsin quartet—John Cooper [lead vocals/bass], Korey Cooper [guitar/keys], Jen Ledger [drums/vocals], and Seth Morrison [lead guitar]—never compromise their integrity. Instead, they’ve traveled their own path to unprecedented heights with an urgent sound, undeniable energy, and unbreakable spirit.
On their eleventh full-length album, Dominion [Atlantic Records], Skillet encourage a different kind of revolt when the world could really use it…
“I call it positive rebellion,” exclaims John. “It’s a rebellion against those internal elements such as fear and anxiety. It’s a rebellion against external forces wanting you to be something you don’t want to be. It’s a celebration of the freedom we have in our lives. It’s very anti-establishment. It’s a rally call to stand up for what you believe in and not be silenced. It might be unpopular in certain places, but there’s nothing more rock ‘n’ roll than that,” he smiles.
Skillet have embodied rock ‘n’ roll’s evolution from day one. Selling 12 million albums worldwide to date, they’ve earned over a dozen RIAA certifications in recognition of gold, platinum, or multiplatinum status. Landmark album Awake notably went 3x-platinum and picked up a Billboard Music Award. Plus, it housed the 2x-platinum track “Awake & Alive,” 3x-platinum track “Hero,” and 4x-platinum track “Monster.” The latter stands out as “one of the most-streamed rock songs in history” with over 1.2 BILLION global audio streams. 2019’s Victorious marked the group’s fourth consecutive Top 20 debut on the Billboard Top 200. The album concluded the year on LoudWire’s “The 50 Best Rock Albums of 2019” and yielded the Top 10 rock radio smash “Legendary,” racking up north of 100 million streams. The band’s music also resounds throughout culture, landing syncs from WWE, Marvel, ESPN, MLB, NHL and NFL. As a touring phenomenon, they regularly sell out arenas worldwide, playing in over 26 countries and 6 continents, and have earned acclaim from Billboard, USA Today, The New York Times, and many more. Not to mention, their debut graphic novel, EDEN: A Skillet Graphic Novel with Z2 Comics, emerged as the publisher’s best-selling book of all-time and launched a fan favorite series, with their second graphic novel releasing the fall of 2020, EDEN: The Aftermath.
As the Global Pandemic brought 2020 to a halt, Skillet creatively pushed forward. The musicians logged on to ZOOM and recorded what would become Dominion with producer Kevin Churko [Papa Roach, Disturbed, Five Finger Death Punch] and co-writer Kane Churko over the course of the year. The Churkos inspired the band to stretch their sonic palette once again.
“We recorded the entire album together, and we were never in the same room at the same time,” recalls John. “We’d write together and discuss the direction. Kevin and Kane would send us tracks; we’d send them tracks. I’d record on the bus or at home. It made the process go extremely quickly. Once everything opened up a little more, we could’ve flown to Las Vegas, but it was going so well remotely. It made us willing to try some new things that I don’t think we would’ve if it was in person.”
Speaking of, the first single “Surviving Game” opens with a spoken word intro before snapping into a jagged sidewinder riff encased in an electronic hum. Right out of the gate, the track reacted with audiences, generating millions of streams.
“The song is about defiance towards fear,” he goes on. “Even though it’s hard, you’re going to survive. Each day is another day to keep that oath to yourself and not give up. Surviving connotes both optimism and realism in the same word. You’re acknowledging things are difficult, but you’re going to make it through.”
The title track “Dominion” upholds this theme. Harmonic squeals pierce a chugging distorted riff as John’s aggressive delivery collides full force into the pre-chorus, “Our rebellion has begun.” It culminates on the screeches of a fiery fret-burning solo.
“For me, it’s lyrically powerful,” he continues. “You’re not going to bow down to what anybody says. When people try to act like God, they need to be put back in their place. It’s a rebellious rock song.”
Elsewhere, “Destiny” slips into a trudging groove as John and Jen lock into a call-and-response tempered with a head-nodding bounce.
“The line ‘This darkness ain’t my destiny’ is important,” he reveals. “You have a say over your own life regardless of outside forces - you have a say over your own life regardless of outside forces - you can choose forgiveness instead of anger, and life instead of death. Musically, it’s fresh for us, because the bridge and programming have this hip-hop flavor.”
Delicate piano and strings underscore “Valley of Death” as John delivers one of his most emotionally charged and pensive vocal performances. “The message is even if you feel like you’re alone, you’re not,” he elaborates.
“Beyond Incredible” tosses and turns between an anthemic arena-ready chorus fueled by hummable shredding.
“We’re living in a world with so much hatred and anger,” he observes. “Sometimes, you don’t know how to move forward. The song is about raising yourself up to a higher plane.”
Then, there’s “Standing In The Storm.” It swirls around a key line, “I’ve still got some life in me,” culled from one of Korey’s journals. A slow trap-inspired beat gives way to sirens and syncopated guitar as he declares, “Time to be defiant.”
“We’re getting older, our kids are getting older, and the world is falling apart, so there’s a part of me that’s like, ‘Do you really want to go back on the road in the midst of a Pandemic?’,” he admits. “Do we want to keep this business going? Then, I saw that passage in Korey’s journal. I was really impacted. I started to think, ‘Yes, there’s a lot of crazy things going on, but I’m not done!’”
In the end, Skillet’s greatest rebellion begins now.
“I hope this album strengthens you to be steadfast—even in the face of unpopularity,” he leaves off. “Maybe it will inspire you to say something you haven’t had the strength to say. We love playing music, and we’re very blessed to be doing it still. We’ve carved a very tiny little niche in rock music for ourselves by going against the grain, and we’re not going to give up. This is another new era for Skillet.”