Sunday, June 24, 2007

If You Just Let Me In, I Wouldn't Let You Break Down.

It would be 4 years before Skid Row would release their third full length release "Subhuman Race". This would also be Sebastian Bach's last outing with the band. Here they move forward again and lose a lot of the thrash influence and gain more of a nu-metally sound for lack of a better reference. All the while keeping the Skid Row feel, but never sounding dated.

"Subhuman Race" starts with the hooky and crunchy "My Enemy" that is heavy and melodic. It sets the new sound beautifully and melodically. After such a long delay the first track was a surprisingly sweet sigh of relief. "Firesign" continues with the heavy melodic sound, but with a darker edge. "Frozen" and "Into Another" are also in the same vein with melody and darker undertones.

"Bonehead" and the title track "Subhuman Race" enhance the fast, punky sound originated on "Slave To The Grind" with the title track being their fastest song. "Beat Yourself Blind" adds groove to the aggressive chunky sound and features deep sickly vocals and off-timing. A little different, but one of the best songs on the album. And speaking of the vocals. Bach has certainly lost some of his range and so the songs have a deeper growl to them. They never sound strained and work with the new sound. Bach has not lost any of his passion, he may have gotten more over the years.

"Remains To Be Seen", "Face Against My Soul", "Medicine Jar" and "Iron Will" are all heavy aggressive tunes with less melody and to me are the tracks that are of little memory. Not bad tunes, but I tend to forget about them after I hear them.

The 2 songs that stand out for me are "Eileen" with its dark, disturbing sound and haunting melody. Add to that the killer thrashy riff at the end and this makes for one great tune. However, the song I'd pick as my fave is the only ballad on this album, "Breakin' Down". This is an extremely passionate and very heartfelt. Bach shines vocally and music is brilliant. The song seems more of a reflection on the state of the band at that time then some cheesy love song and I think that's great.

I really enjoy "Subhuman Race" though "Slave To The Grind" will always be my favourite of the albums. I am curious of just where the band would have gone had Sebastian Bach remained, but alas I'll never know. However, I can tell you where the band went without Bach ... oh and drummer Rob Affuso.

That's coming up next ...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Skid Marks ...

After "Slave To The Grind" (which was the first metal album to debut at #1 on the American Charts) Skid Row took a 3 year hiatus to ... uh ... find themselves. There was some inner turmoil and thoughts of disbanding. However, during that time they recorded an EP of cover songs called "B-Side Ourselves"

This is not a bad album and a nice sampling of some of the bands influences. The album starts off with faithful cover of The Ramones' "Psycho Therapy" with guest, vocalist from Faster Pussy, Taime Downe. It's well done, but maybe too polished for Ramones standards. And that's the feel of the album. Faithful covers with a little Skid Row edge.

"C'mon And Love Me" is emotive and respectfully done. "Delivering The Goods" is a live recorded cover featuring a dual vocals with Bach and Halford. However, I find I can't distinguish between whose who during the song. Alas it must be untrained ears, but I imagine it would have rocked to see that live!

Rush's "What You're Doing" sounds like it could have easily fit on Skid Row's debut album and Hendrix' "Little Wing" is done with the (in my opinion) the most passion. A stirring cover of a lovely ballad.

The covers here are very well done and you can't hide the Skid Row sound because of Sebastian's distinct vocals and that gives the songs a little originality. I find I don't reach for this album all that much. It's an EP and not very long and the songs are not much different then the originals and so there is no real uniqueness that demand listening to.

Up next, I'll be reviewing the last effort with Sebastian Bach on "Subhuman Race".

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This Ain't No Monkey Business

When I heard the first couple of singles for Skid Row's sophomore release, I was blown away by the sheer heaviness of them. "Monkey Business" was a wailing groove fest of chunkiness and "Slave To The Grind" was a thrash assault. I couldn't believe that this was the same band that released (albeit a great album) the stereo-typical hard rock album "Skid Row".

Now I don't want to offend anyone by sounding like Skid Row's debut was sub par, they certainly brought their own sound to the hard rock scene and did it with gusto. I simply want to emphasize the drastic jump in heaviness on their follow up "Slave To The Grind".

Most bands would take a few albums to polish their sound, but Skid Row skipped a few steps and released what I think is the best work. Ever. I like the newer heavier sound, thick and crunchy, yet done without compromising the Skid Row signature. There was no mistaking who this album belonged to, but what a risk the band took. Kudos.

I'll just say it now that this is my favourite Skid Row album and, I think, is when the band peaked. "Slave To The Grind" had it all from blistering thrash/punk crossovers, hard rock anthems, heart wrenching ballads and social and political commentaries.

That was the other major difference on this album. Lyrical content was more controversial and charged. Very punk/thrash attitude with touches of humour as well. Poetically obscure yet surprisingly intelligent and thought provoking.

The album begins with the almost bluesy rocker "Monkey Business" which blasts us with some great riffs and drumwork. This is followed by the title track "Slave To The Grind" which is essentially a thrash song and an angry aggressive one to boot. Bach's vocals are growls and
wailing and is fine example of his vocal diversity.

"Psycho Love" and "Creepshow" follow in the groovy vein of "Monkey Business" but where "Monkey ..." is socially aware "Psycho Love" is a more haunting/disturbing look at love and "Creepshow" is more humourous (think daytime talkshows).

"The Threat" and "Living On A Chain Gang" are both meaty thrashy tunes that politically charged. Some great wails on "... Chain Gang" and fine solos on "The Threat". "Riot Act" reminds me of "Crossover" era DRI and Suicidal Tendencies with their punk/thrash hybrids.

The ballads here are passionate, thought-provoking and reflective. "Quicksand Jesus" is haunting and reeks of emotion. A very reflective piece that leaves you yearning for answers to questions only you can answer yourself. "Darkened Room" is a similar reflective song steeped in anguish and hauntingly chilling. A very moving solo. The album closer is "Wasted Time" and this song is a vivid and thoughtful look at addiction. Poetic and sorrowful with yet another signature passionate solo. A brilliant closer.

There are 2 different releases of "Slave To The Grind", the regular version with the playfully aggressive thrash tinged "Get The F**k Out" (My copy) and the family friendlier version with "Beggars Day". I downloaded "Beggar's Day" to complete my copy of "Slave ..." and it's not a bad tune. It is actually far more like earlier Skid Row than anything else on the album, only slightly thicker guitars. A real hard rock sound to it and would fit better on the bands debut. I prefer my release with "Get The F**k Out".

My favourite track (though every song is a killer tune) is "Muddkicker". This song is chunky mid-paced thrasher and probably the heaviest song they've done. Their is a dark edge to the aggressiveness and Bach's vocals are perfect. He doesn't get showy, but sings the song flat out. Unflashy and passionate. A true sign of a great vocalist (in my opinion).

It would be a number of years before Skid Row's third album "Subhuman Race", but before I get to that, I'll talk about the band's B-Side's EP release of cover songs next.

Friday, June 01, 2007

It's DPTH Time ...

Well faithful readers. I was hoping to get my next Skid Row post done before my vacation but alas, it was not to be. Damn this job! It's cutting into my leisure time.

I'll be on vacation next week, but you can be sure I'll have the review of Skid Row's "Slave To The Grind" next Sunday June 9th 2007.

I promise. Till then! Take care.