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.


Blogger anonymous jones said...

Didn't you mention 'hair metal' a few posts back? Was that a typo? If not, what is that then? I think I missed something.

6:48 PM  
Blogger dschalek said...

Sorry, Dpth, to me, Skid Row was just another asshole/ glam/ hair / poser band to be avoided like the plague.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

I liked Slave to the grind, but not as much as the debut.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

This album was good, definitely in a different league than the S/T album, and I'm for it. Subhuman Race is my favorite Skid Row disc, though. It's so pissy and you know they were falling apart then, but it has balls.

8:06 PM  

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