Over the past decade, it’s often been the case that Skillet held onto some of the best tracks for those listeners willing to go a little deeper. That proves true yet again with Victorious: The Aftermath, a deluxe edition that offers three new tracks plus five reimagined takes on songs from the standard edition.
Victorious itself was cinematic in scope, an album of battle cries and victory anthems. The Aftermath continues to serve those themes. “Dead Man Walking” is a rowdy rocker that some fans might remember hearing live during Skillet’s winter 2019 tour with Breaking Benjamin. There’s an infectious swagger to Seth Morrison’s riffs, backed by some heavy programming. John Cooper’s gravelly vocal delivery is ceaselessly enthusiastic, and it’s clear that he was enjoying singing the track as much as fans are likely to enjoy hearing it.
“I’m feeling dead inside
waiting to come alive
I’m just a dead man walking
I need an electric shock
your love’s a lightning rod
wake up the dead man walking.“
“Sick and Empty” pulls back into a darker place, a desperate confession that pairs bitter lyrics with a sharp melody: “I think I’m sick and empty, like something’s missing.” This is a song likely to connect instantly to anyone who has struggled with feeling overpowered by a destructive relationship dynamic or by an addiction. Although it’s easily one of the darkest songs in recent Skillet history, it feels like a vital addition to complete the rest of the album’s themes.
Previously only available to those who ordered the band’s graphic novel Eden, “Dreaming of Eden” brings the mood back to a brighter place. This is easily the most cinematic moment on the entire track list, which feels fitting given that it was created to be paired with the story. The song is a swelling invitation into longing for a place of wholeness and love.
The reimagined versions of already released songs follow. “Victorious (Soundtrack Version)” leans on breathtakingly beautiful piano to fill out the song’s empowering message. The new take on “Terrify the Dark” is similar in its themes of God’s love overcoming the deepest evils we are enduring.
“Save Me (Reimagined)” and “Reach (Falling Deep Mix)” offer some chilling versions of Victorious‘s more aching selections. Strings and piano swell behind sparse, desperate vocal arrangements that highlight lyrics full of hurt, crying for salvation. The reimagined versions are rounded out by “Legendary (Destiny Remix),” a gritty, reverberating remix of the bombastic original.
Skillet’s history of going above and beyond the expectations for deluxe editions has proved itself yet again with The Aftermath. The new songs are each exceptional in their own right while also serving the overall arc of the album. The choice to include reimagined versions that lean towards the stripped back and cinematic means that what this album offers is much more unique and varied than your average handful of remixes. The ballad style is incredibly effective in presenting songs that released a year ago in a totally new light, teasing out nuances in the lyrics and melody structures.
The deluxe additions made a good album even better, filling out the themes of victory in struggle while expanding the musical palette. I have no doubt that Victorious: The Aftermath will be the definitive version of this album from here on out.
Find the album at https://skillet.lnk.to/aftermath.