Skillet's first foray into worship music came in 2000. Released just after the Invincible project, Skillet's Ardent Worship CD features ten songs that the band recorded live in their hometown. Part of Ardent Records' worship series (All Together Separate and Satellite Soul both have recorded live CDs for the project series), Skillet's offering is a mix of old live standards, studio songs recorded live, as well as new songs penned specifically for this project.
The disc opens with "Who Is Like Our God," a driving, catchy Skillet original that wouldn't feel out of place on either Invincible or Hey You, I Love Your Soul. Skillet has made a career out of writing hard-rocking, yet vertically-focused anthems for its albums, so the transition to writing worship songs for this one was hardly a stretch for John and Korey Cooper. John delivers again with "Jesus Be Glorified," a simple, yet effective praise-rocker, while Korey's "Sing To The Lord" is a catchy, chorus-driven psalm to God.
Also included are the songs "Angels Fall Down" and "Safe With You," which appeared on Invincible and their self-titled debut respectively. "Angels Fall Down" sounds even more majestic live, its wordless coda being a most perfect expression of worship and proof that you don't need words to express praise to God. "Safe With You" is a personal favorite and is beautifully performed with worshipful restraint; John Cooper withholds the chorus until the very end when he screams out "I'll be safe with you, Jesus!" with heartfelt emotion.
The rest of the album is filled with songs most people are familiar with. However, Skillet gives each song its own industrial-rock twist so that even the most familiar selections sound fresh and inspired in the band's hands. Skillet does an especially wonderful job on the energetic "Your Name Is Holy" and the slow-building "How Deep The Father's Love For Us."
Ardent Worship is a successful project from Skillet, partly because worship has always been a natural part of the band's energetic live set. Skillet is just as comfortable leading a crowd in worship as they are in leading them to a mosh-pit, so nothing sounds forced on this album. The band does not sacrifice its trademark sound on this release and they most certainly did not "go soft" just to put out a worship album (as say, Newsboys). So even if you're a Skillet fan that can't stand worship music, pick up this album and experience an excitement that is sorely lacking in today's worship genre.- Review date: 8/29/05, written by Sherwin Frias
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