HEY SKILLET FANS! Wait…what? So, is Skillet not metal enough for some of you? I’m a metal head, but I have been a big fan of Skillet since their style change on 2003’s Collide release, and followed along their carrier ever since. But alas, if Skillet was not quite metal enough for some of you, be sure to at least check out the new EP by Fight the Fury, which is a side-band featuring Skillet vocalist/bassist John Cooper, joined by fellow Skillet member, guitarist Seth Morrison, as well as drummer Jared Ward and guitarist John Panzer III. Unlike Skillet, here you’ll find no orchestration, no pop sensibilities, just unbridled heaviness.
I have given it a few spins already and am loving it more and more with each listen. But then again, I am a long time Skillet fan already. Either way, I think fans of traditional and modern metal will likewise enjoy it. It reminds me of many of today’s more mainstream metal bands.
Vocally, Cooper never goes very far from what we’ve heard him do with Skillet, he just displays additional aggression and power throughout. In other words, there is no screaming or ultra heavy growling vocals styles. There are a few times where we find a little bit of the modern second-vocal yelling style thrown in at times, but it is more rare than usually found these days. In the end, we find that on this release, it is very much the recognizable vocals of Cooper, but here he is really belting it out much more; like the heaviest Skillet song on steroids.
There really are no slow tracks here, which is good since we’re only served up five tracks this time around. Track two, Dominate Me, starts out with a really cool picking guitar pattern before blasting forward with a try-not-to-bob-you-head-along riff that gets you moving. One of my stand out favorites so far.
The thing I enjoy about this release, is the five tracks are heavy, yet they are distinct from each other and this does not blur together as just a lot of heavy noise. The songs still have catchy anthem sing-along feels to the chorus most of the time, yet the music really gets you headbanging along.
Check out the video below for the first single for My Demons, the opening track. This is a good representation of what to expect.
From the press release:
Conflict never rests, but each battle makes us tougher. The longer we hold on, the stronger we become. Fight The Fury soundtrack the eternal struggle towards strength with robust riffing, airtight ironclad grooves, and hard-hitting heavy metal hooks. Established in 2018 as a new outlet for the creativity of Skillet vocalist and bassist John Cooper, the project—rounded out by Skillet guitarist Seth Morrison, drummer Jared Ward, and guitarist John Panzer III—empower and energize listeners to keep fighting.
“The music is about battling through the struggles in life we all face in order to survive,” affirms Cooper. “The name Fight The Fury recognizes that these songs are a cathartic release. I hope listeners relate to that. I’ve seen music help people who face depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. The process was very therapeutic for me. Even though I’m singing about dark and hard things, we want to communicate that there’s hope at the end of the struggle.”
Heavy music provided the perfect vehicle to do so. For as much as writing for Fight The Fury granted Cooper an opportunity to flex a different muscle sonically, it also brought him full circle. A staunch fan of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, and Disturbed, the artist drew on a lifelong passion for all things heavy. Compiling ideas quietly since 2013, the frontman followed his muse, penning and recording songs on tour in locker rooms, backstage at venues, and on the bus around the globe. Accompanied by Seth during many of these impromptu sessions, he channeled a timeless feeling via live energy, thicker tones, and unfiltered aggression.
“Honestly, it took me back to the roots of why I love music and the way I felt when I first heard metal,” he elaborates. “I didn’t want it to be slick. I didn’t want any outside input. I wanted it to feel like you’re at the show and you’re going to mosh and jump up and down. The lyrics get raw. Of course, I’ll always be in Skillet. It’s my first love, but it’s fun to respond to all of those tweets asking for a heavy record with this,” he laughs. “There’s a lot of emotion and passion in these songs.”
In order to channel that, he enlisted the talents of Seth’s cousin Ward behind the kit and Panzer III who originally auditioned for Skillet at 16. Additionally, he wrote, produced, and recorded the album himself—even engineering much of it. A D.I.Y. spirit defines the final product.
“I knew if I made this myself, I could have complete creative control,” he continues. “Fight The Fury had to have its own identity. I had freedom to go back to the drawing board and just rock out.”
That’s exactly what the band does on the band’s 2018 debut EP, Still Breathing[Atlantic Records]. The first single “My Demons” hinges on pummeling guitar accented by pinch harmonics as Cooper’s scream gives way to an anthemic chant. It’s a perfect and powerful introduction to the vision at large.
“I was actually talking to a fan about child abuse,” he recalls. “Even though the lyrics explore more conflicts we face, it does touch on that. At the same time, it’s about not wanting to forgive someone who’s hurt you in a really bad way. I thought people could relate to it on a broader and more specific level. Musically, it was a great way to kick everything off.”
Elsewhere, the thrashing madness of “Dominate Me” steamrolls forward on a polyrhythmic stomp before culminating on arena-ready gut-punch growl. It sees his voice expand into new territory.
Cooper goes on, “‘Dominate Me’is about the fact that I sometimes feel like I’m losing control of my life, and I need someone to put me back together—or even to hold me together. It’s about finding that person, that thing, or even a higher power that I can put my trust in. It’s about trusting someone else more than you trust yourself.”
“Still Burning” unfolds as “a dark love song,”while “Lose Hold Of It All” snaps into a seesawing chant before spiraling off into a jaw-dropping and fret-burning guitar solo duel.
“I just wanted to shout the verse without melody,” he smiles. “It was really fun to get to do that. It gives off the song’s anger. It’s about confronting those forces of depression and fear and the voices within or outside that tell you you’re not good enough and you’re not going to make it. You shout them down.”
Fight The Fury speaks to Cooper’s versatility as a songwriter. Known worldwide for his work in Skillet, the group has sold 12 million albums to date, achieved numerous accolades, and garnered two GRAMMY®Award nominations. Now, he’s got another outlet to further expand his growing legacy. “It’s cool to have two musical avenues now,” he adds. “Fight The Fury captures something a little different for me.”
In the end, Fight The Fury’s message exudes a power of its own.
“Letting some of that anger out can be a good thing,” he leaves off. “When I wake up in the morning, all I need to do is turn on some metal, and I’m ready for anything. I want to help listeners deal with their demons and go harder. Whatever you’re up against, I hope this makes you feel good to face it.”