SKILLET'S ALIEN YOUTH 

SKILLET'S ALIEN YOUTH

The historical problem with a lot of Christian rock is the rock. It tries to bring the noise but too often comes up short, a clean-scrubbed and entirely insufficient approximation of the aural mayhem of its secular counterparts. On Alien Youth (Ardent; Grade: B), the fourth studio album from local Christian rock giants Skillet, this is not the case. The music is there -- produced by lead singer John Cooper, Alien Youth, is vibrant enough to fit into anyone's Modern Rock playlist -- but the message seems too plainly proselytizing for a P.O.D.-style crossover. Like so much emergent white Christian culture -- Left Behind, Omega Code, etc. -- this is the kind of stuff, earnest and well-meaning it may be, that even gives some self-identified Christians the willies. And non-Christians? Forget about it. The legit guitar power of the opening "Alien Youth" can't be hemmed in by genre tags, but any album that begins with the words "Worldwide Jesus domination" and continues soon after with "We're coming for your souls" is limited by definition. Any halfway aware person these days is likely to "amen" Skillet's "Search for something real/In a world so fake" (per "Eating Me Away"), but not everyone is going to look for that in the same place. So, if you're part of the choir being preached to, this record is for you. And if you're not? Forget about it.

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