Whatever you may think of Skillet, you can never accuse John Cooper and his band of pulling punches. And they’re not about to start on Dominion, the group’s 11th studio album. Cooper and Co. return to rumble, this time aiming their signature salvos of hope-infused rock at a world staggering through its third year of global pandemic.
Fans know that Skillet never sugarcoats the reality that the world is full of brokenness and devastation. Yet amid that uncertainty, Skillet calls listeners over and over to lift our eyes to the heavens, to walk in faith-filled determination, fortified in the knowledge that the God we love and serve is good, and He is sovereign.
Over and over again on Dominion, Skillet admonishes us to fight the good fight in our faith, looking forward in determination and purpose. On lead single “Surviving the Game,” for instance, we hear, “I am more than a conqueror/The past behind me, life is ahead/I’ll take the way of the warrior.”
And there’s so much more where that came from. “Victory is won/Just come alive inside/New life’s begun/ … Shout your freedom!” Cooper declares on “Shout Your Freedom.” Likewise, the pounding rocker “Beyond Incredible” reminds us that we’ll find the strength we need to fight our spiritual battles when we keep our eyes on God. And “Standing in the Storm” contrasts the darkness of our world at times (“I see the clouds around me start to darken”) with the determination we find in our faith (“Fearless as a lion/Not afraid of dying/ … Got truth on my side and loves my weapon”).
The title track, “Dominion” rejects the idols that culture imposes on us: (“Colliding chaos/Pre-programmed robots/No dissent allowed at all/A 40-foot golden idol/ … I’ll never bow down to the power state”). There’s more of the same in “Defiant”: “It’s your time, gotta stand your ground/Face the fire, never goin’ down.” Meanwhile, “White Horse” draws imagery from the biblical book of Revelation as it imagines Jesus’ triumphant second coming: “Recognize your King/Do you want peace or war when/Heaven’s force comes riding on a white horse.”
The poignant power ballads “Refuge” and “Destiny” encourage those who’re straggling and struggling to hold on to find rest in God: “You’re the place where I catch my breath/You’re the only One I hold onto/Yes, You are my refuge.”
The ballad “Valley of Death” explores how we hold onto hope even as we grapple with grief. And “Forever or the End” focuses on finding hope amid conflict during a hard season in marriage, emphasizing this message of hope: “It’s never over/It’s never too late to start it all again.”
One lyric in “Surviving the Game” could potentially raise a parental eyebrow: “To be more than a conqueror/You have to learn to enjoy the pain.” Enjoying pain might sound borderline sadistic if that line’s taken in isolation. But the band isn’t advocating enjoying pain for pain’s sake. Rather, they’re focused on finding purpose in life’s struggles: “Fighting for my focus/Give the pain a purpose.”
Year after year, tour after tour, album after album, John Cooper and his bandmates (wife and guitarist Korey Cooper; guitarist Seth Morrison; drummer and vocalist Jen Ledger) keep dishing out their pummeling brand of Christ-focused rock.
And so they’ve done again on Dominion. “I can face my darkest night/’Cuz I trust You with my life” we hear in the worship-set ready ballad “Refuge.” That message is reiterated repeatedly throughout an album sure to please fans of a group that’s kept the faith and encouraged the faithful—loudly—for more than 25 years now.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.