Rise" is Skillet's magnum opus. It's perhaps the best album that they will ever create. Musically it incorporates Skillet's entire body of work from the early electronic influences to the harder edge of "Collide" to the symphonic rock found on the most recent albums, yet all these elements work together to relentlessly push "Rise" into new places. The effect of everything hitting at once is visceral--tangible.
Thankfully, I'm no longer the painfully strange middle schooler who latched onto the crying angst and loneliness found in Skillet albums like "Collide;" however, I believe I'm always going be asking questions like "How can evil like that exist in this world", or "What is my place" to "How on earth am I going to get through this day." These questions and answers have always been the core of John Cooper's writing; however "Rise" puts these messages into a logical progression and flow that makes them even more powerful.
"Rise" is not a rock opera or concept album in the way many people are probably used to---probably because most of types of albums always seem so forced. However, it is in fact a concept album divided into three separate chapters. It's not so much a story as an emotional journey as seen through the perspective of a young teenager. The first act is about a kind of naive brashness and optimism ("Rise" to "Not Gonna Die"). The second act is really a horror and growing awareness of the world ("Circus for a Psycho" to "Madness in Me"), and the third act is about redemption and hope (everything after "MiM").