The Christian metal band Skillet has extended the shelf life of its last couple of albums by rereleasing them a year or so later with new bonus tracks. And so it is here: “Psycho in My Head” marks the first of five such additional songs from the forthcoming deluxe edition of Dominion: Day of Destiny, which debuts Feb.17, 2023.
This track’s title evokes horror-movie symbolism—a theme that’s reinforced by stabbing guitar sounds and pounding bass notes that wouldn’t feel at all out of place in a jump-scare thriller.
But as is always the case with Skillet, frontman John Cooper and his bandmates are trying to reconcile the broken, dark parts of our souls with the fact that our faith illuminates such “psycho” tendencies with spiritual light.
At first listen, the lyrics in the ominous sounding “Psycho in My Head” can seem pretty grim. Cooper confesses, “Can’t stop this screamin’ voice/Or maybe I’m just sick inside/ … There’s a psycho in my head/I’m living closer to the edge/Makin’ me feel like I’m living in misery, misery/Insane.”
Not much uplifting there, it might seem. But when we look at bit closer at the song’s lyrics, there are hints that there’s something more redemptive going on.
Cooper also sings about an internal battle between this dark side and one that’s more hopeful. “This is the face I hate/The other side of me/Out of this cage/He breaks to take the life from me.” Later in the song, Cooper articulates something like a prayer for deliverance from such darkness: “Help me believe/I need to see the light in me/Tell me, tell me, tell me/I’m not crazy.”
That internal battle, between two different natures warring with each other, recalls the Apostle Paul’s similar words in Romans 7. Here, Paul reckons with the jagged tension between our new, redeemed life in Christ and the fact that we still wage war against our old, sinful nature:
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7: 21-25).
Though Cooper doesn’t quote these verses directly here, I think the band’s subtle allusion to them will be apparent to those who are familiar with this passage of Scripture.
Listening repeatedly to this song without an understanding of that bigger spiritual context, however, could potentially reinforce the suggestion that “there’s a psycho in my head” for fans who aren’t aware of the band’s bigger redemptive intent.
Skillet has a long, solid track record of connecting with its fans’ real-world anxieties and fears. Some songs—like this one—emphasize the very real, but often very private, internal battles that many quietly people face alone. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by your sin or feelings of hopelessness within, a song like this one might well connect with you emotionally in a way that something more “positive-sounding” wouldn’t.
John Cooper and his bandmates have proven over and over that they understand this tension, and they deliver a bruising brand of metal that pulls no punches when honestly acknowledging such struggles.
That said, this may not be the song some parents would want their kids to put endlessly on repeat, with its strong lyrical emphasis on feelings of being a “psycho” dealing with “hysteria” and “voices.” Other songs on Dominion, namely “Refuge,” “Destiny,” “Defiant” and “Shout Your Freedom” offer a more clearly hopeful counterbalance to the very real struggle the band sings about here.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.