After the release of 2016's Unleashed, Christian hard rock outfit Skillet spent the following years touring behind that effort, issuing an expanded edition of the album and helping drummer/vocalist Jen Ledger unveil her impressive, self-titled debut EP. Without rest, the quartet continued into 2019 with their tenth effort, Victorious, another set of characteristically hard-charging anthems that aim to glorify God and set spirits aflame. These are Jock Jams for Christ, an unrelenting barrage for those who get pumped up by faith, working out, or both. Is this the worship band of a metal-loving megachurch or an inspirational half-time show headliner? In Skillet's case, it could be both. Chunky riffs, pounding drums, and soaring choruses elevate their aggressive take on what is, at its heart and soul, worship music, especially on the soaring "Victorious," "Save Me," and "Terrify the Dark." Elsewhere, that motivational spirit is obvious by song title alone -- "Legendary," "Reach," and "Finish Line" are but a handful of unambiguous examples -- and the energy is absolutely infectious, whether the listener identifies as Christian or otherwise. Ledger remains the band's secret weapon, her clear vocals piercing through the storm and providing much-needed balance and harmony to frontman John Cooper's howls. In fact, much of Victorious sounds like it could have landed on the Ledger EP, especially "Victorious" and "Rise Up." Elsewhere, Skillet respectfully nod to Linkin Park ("You Ain't Ready"), Evanescence ("Save Me"), and even Imagine Dragons, whose unmistakable, foot-stomping sound heavily informs "This Is the Kingdom," which interpolates the Beatitudes and Jesus' "first will be last/last will be first" teachings found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Although Victorious isn't groundbreaking by any means, it's another satisfying, defiant, and rousing collection of spiritual hype music.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung