If the president of the record label describes your band as "cutting-edge" it's the first sign that maybe you're not. But that doesn't mean you can't make a good record. Skillet's third project, "Invincible," pops, sizzles, and clangs, an ode to newest keyboard technology. Big drum beats heavily salted with quirky loops, computer noises, blips, beeps and a myriad of guitar effects lay the foundation for slick, melodic pop-vocal anthems; sounds to be savored by a wide range of sensibilities.

Formed in Memphis by lead singer and bassist John Cooper, Skillet's current lineup includes Kevin Haaland on guitar, Lori Peters on drums, and Korey Cooper on keyboard. Debuting in 1996 with a self-titled LP, the group returned two years later with "Hey You, I Love Your Soul." In the Christian market("Skillet started on the premise that we wanted to watch people get saved," says John Cooper on the band's website), Skillet is considered alternative. They chase sounds and grooves no other Christian band seems to touch (okay, maybe Audio Adrenaline). But their lyrics are not meant to be poetry: these are power pop songs with a message. They proclaim, praise, and proselytize. They are Jesus anthems, Christian bumper stickers, Kingdom cliches served up with a spoonful of electronic sugar: "You're the hope over the centuries/You're the cosmic force that rules the galaxies/And I can't live for myself/I can't keep this cross to myself" At their brightest "alternative" songwriting moments, Skillet covers territory already mastered by Christian artists Fold Zandura. But that doesn't detract from the fact that they deliver skillful pop, right down to the last track, last loop, last blip.

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