Sunday, July 01, 2007

Thick Is The Skin, But Unoriginal To The Ears.

Skid Row, after "Subhuman Race" took a few more years off and got rid of Sebastian Bach in the meantime. Long time drummer Rob Affuso also left (on better terms) due to other commitments. The band brought in Johnny Solinger on vocals and Phil Varone on drums.

Along with some new members was also a new sound. However, the new sound on "Thickskin" just doesn't feel like Skid Row and this makes me question whether they should have kept the name or changed it. The same could have been said about "Slave To The Grind" but with Bach's vocals there was no questioning which band this was. It was unmistakably Skid Row showing growth as a band.

Skid Row is no longer a "hair metal" band or even the thrashy hard rock hybrid of the "Slave ..." and "Subhuman...". What we have here is unquestionably a alternative rock album in the veins of Staind and Seether with Goo Goo Dolls stylings. Largely in part to Solinger's muffled groan that's exactly like every other vocalist in the genre. He's competent enough, but unoriginal and lacks the emotional impact I at least felt from Bach.

Let me be clear here and say the album is not bad, but is this a Skid Row album? No. I'll use Creed as an example. How the band got around the Scott Stapp stigma was to simply to reform Creed as Alterbridge and hire a new singer.

The similarities are there, of course, but I didn't have a preconceived notion of what Alterbridge would or should sound like. But with Skid Row's 4th outing "Thickskin", I'm left disappointed and forced to re-evaluate the bands direction. However, if they reformed as Sabo Bolan Hill, I'd have been a little more open-minded.

Then again, by me expecting a certain sound from a band is unfair to them if they are trying to grow. But growth doesn't mean abandoning a signature sound. Iced Earth and Exodus have kept their sound despite line-up changes, so who knows. Let's get to the album review now.

"Thickskin" begins with the thumpy rocker "New Generation" with mechanical vocals akin to Nine Inch Nails Trent Reznor. "Mouth Of Voodoo" is more bass heavy sounding slightly Stabbing Westward-ish and "Lamb" is a heavy hitter with the most Skid Row sounding solo on the album.
"Ghost", "Swallow Me (The Real You)" and "Down From Underground" all have that modern alterna rock sound like Staind and Three Days Grace and such. "Born A Begger" and the ballads "See You Around" and "One Light" lean towards the Goo Goo Dolls in guitar sounds and stylings, but both are catchy and melodic and "One Light" 's guitar work is very nice.

"Thick Is The Skin" is a chunky heavy song reminiscent of White Zombi partially because Johnny's vocals sound like a mix of Sebastian Bach and Rob Zombi. There are some punky offerings in the album closer "Hittin The Wall" which is fast with the mechanical vocal quality of the album opener. The other offering is a remake of their debut's "I Remember You" called "I Remember You Two" which is faster and more pop-punky sounding and nowhere near as good as the original. They should leave the punk covers of their songs to the fledgling punk bands.

Unfortunately there is no one song that stands out, but I'll go with "One Light" due to its beautiful guitar work. As I said earlier, the album is not bad, it's just not what I want from Skid Row. If Staind or Seether or Three Dogs Grace released this album it would only be ok. This is the last album I'll probably buy of theirs (and this one mostly cause of the "Remember You .. "
cover as their latest 5th release "Revolutions Per Minute" is more of dirty rock album with nothing standing out. I'm not digging the direction they've moved in and wonder what they would be like with Sebastian Bach still fronting them.

Oh well. Up next is not a "hair metal" band, but an up and coming Ottawa, Ontario based based hard rock group Dirty Beloved with their recently released debut album.


Anonymous Rhodeislandrock said...

What did me in for this album was the fact that I saw them open for KISS 4 times on the Farewell Tour and they played some originals. It wasn't the originals that bothered me so much as the attitude of the Snake and Rachel. Basically, they made fun of the older material, played punk songs during the set, etc. This is a prime tour and you want to re-establish yourself, don't beat up on your past!

I thought Solinger was professional but his rendition of 'I Remember You' didn't fit. I passed on the album until about a year ago when I got it used very cheap. I haven't even bothered with RPM.

Heavy Metal Addiction

7:00 PM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Never heard this one, but I do like the latest one a lot, and Subhuman Race is still my favorite Skid mark. :)

1:26 PM  

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