Personnel: Jen Ledger (vocals, drums); John Cooper , John L. Cooper (vocals); Ben Kasica (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Jonathan Chu (violin); Korey Cooper (keyboards, programming, keyboard programming); Howard Benson (keyboards).
Audio Mixers: Chris Lord-Alge; Andrew Schubert; Brad Townsend.
Recording information: Bay 7 Studios, Valley Village, CA; Sparky Dark, Calabasas, CA.
Editor: Ben Kasica.
The highest-charting Christian album on the Billboard charts since 2006, Awake could be tagged as Skillet's mainstream breakthrough on that fact alone. Certainly, the band's monster modern rock does sound like it could slip onto an active rock playlist -- maybe not quite in 2009, but earlier in the decade, when metallic rockers heavy on the guitar downstrokes and power ballads with chant-along vocals were relatively common. That's not to say that Skillet sound out-of-step with the times -- there's still a gleam to the Howard Benson production that sounds modern -- and they do mange to imprint their own identity on this sometimes generic brand of contemporary rock, thanks to their communal vocals, with male and female voices trading off and skyscraper hooks. Skillet also don't always focus solely on religion, as many of their songs are grounded in inspirational positivity, so that's another reason why Awake finds the band poised to break into the mainstream. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine