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Skid Row – Rise of the Damnation Army – United World Rebellion: Chapter Two [EP Review]

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Skid Row – Rise of the Damnation Army – United World Rebellion: Chapter Two
2014, Megaforce Records
Buy the album

1. We Are the Damned
2. Give It the Gun
3. Catch Your Fall
4. Damnation Army
5. Zero Day
6. Sheer Heart Attack
7. Rats in the Cellar

Band:
Johnny Solinger – Lead Vocals
Dave “Snake” Sabo – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Scotti Hill – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rachel Bolan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Rob Hammersmith – Drums

Skid Row is back with the second installment of their United World Rebellion series of EPs, which I think is meant to be a trilogy. Personally, I think this is a great way for bands to go about releasing music — a steady stream of EPs and then maybe do a double or triple disc compilation later down the line.

Not sure why it took these guys seven years before they released new music but a fire has certainly been lit under them. I never bothered with Thickskin or Revolutions Per Minute because both albums were reviewed by mostly everyone as being poor or mediocre, but the United World Rebellion series shows the band still has a snotty punky attitude and continues to show why they were one of the heaviest of the “hair bands” back in the early 1990s. “We are the Damned” is a true headbanger and the best track on the album. Though I enjoyed the first United World Rebellion, I was caught off guard by how good this track is.

The band wraps up the second chapter by superbly covering a few Queen and Aerosmith classics. If you’re looking for something the band to try to recreate the past with some glossy hair metal, you’re not going to find it on these recent EPs but what you will get is good solid heavy metal and hard rock. If this is the type of music the band continues to release, I don’t have any interest in ever seeing them reunited for a nostalgia run with Sebastian Bach (who I happen to like as a solo artist anyway).

Highlights: “We are the Damned”, “Catch Your Fall”, “Zero Day”, “Sheer Heart Attack”, “Rats in the Cellar”

Sebastian Bach – Give ‘Em Hell [Review]

Sebastian-Bach-Give-Em-Hell

Sebastian Bach – Give ‘Em Hell
2014, Frontiers Records
Buy the album

1. “Hell Inside My Head”
2. “Harmony”
3. “All My Friends Are Dead”
4. “Temptation”
5. “Push Away”
6. “Dominator”
7. “Had Enough”
8. “Gun To A Knife Fight”
9. “Rock N’ Roll Is A Vicious Game”
10. “Taking Back Tomorrow”
11. “Disengaged”
12. “Forget You”

Musicians:
Sebastian Bach – Vocals
Devin Bronson – Guitar
Jeff George – Guitar
Steve Stevens -Guitar
John 5 – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass
Bob Marlette – Bass, Piano
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Franky Perez – Harmonica

Producer: Bob Marlette

The most recent outing from Sebastian Bach sees him recruiting a few other well-known musicians to help out. Steve Stevens, John 5 and Duff McKagan (who handled the majority of bass playing duties, I believe) all lend a hand in the recording and writing process of Give ‘Em Hell.

For the most part, this album continues down the path of modern hard rock & heavy metal that Baz has been walking on for quite some time. While Sebastian has publicly said he’d like to do a reunion with the rest of Skid Row, he isn’t spending his days as a solo act trying to recreate the vibe of his old band. Well, Skid Row was always heavier than the rest of the hair metal acts and heaviness is something Bach has retained as a solo artist but he’s not trying to put out new songs that sound like it’s still 1989.

In his mid-40s, Bach shows no sign of slowing down or softening up whether you’re talking about his approach to singing or the content of the songs themselves. Sebastian is a controversial figure at times due to his opinions but you can’t take away that he’s one of the best singers (if not THE best) of his generation. Bach is still going all out on vocals on this album and that’s a testament to his natural born abilities and training as a singer to still be able to do what he does after so many years.

As for the music itself, Give ‘Em Hell finds Sebastian doing exactly that — giving ’em hell. I don’t think this album is as melodic as his last two albums were but this is the most consistently heavy album Bach has done yet (the heaviest solo song he’s ever done would still probably be Angel Down‘s “American Metalhead”). Bobby Jarzombek is still a monster on the drums and the album is full of crunchy riffs.

There are two occasions when this album lets up: the power ballad “Had Enough” and “Rock N’ Roll is a Vicious Game” (an April Wine cover). After Bach’s last two albums delivered exception ballads, I was really looking forward to what, if any, ballads would appear here. Unfortunately, “Had Enough” falls a bit short in comparison to the likes of “I’m Alive”, “By Your Side” and “Falling Into You” but it is still a fine track. The April Wine cover is a song I’m not familiar with and given the style of the rest of the album, it sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s not bad, just odd-sounding given that the rest of the album comes across as pretty modern rock/metal.

I have a big soft spot for Angel Down (that album still holds my favorite Sebastian Bach songs) but in addition to being consistently heavy, Give ‘Em Hell may be Bach’s most consistent album from a quality standpoint.

Highlights: “Hell Inside My Head”, “Temptation”, “Push Away”, “Dominator”, “Had Enough”, “Taking Back Tomorrow”, “Disengaged”, “Forget You”

Skid Row – United World Rebellion: Chapter One [Review]

Skid-Row-UWR

Skid Row – United World Rebellion: Chapter One
2013, Megaforce Records

1. Kings of Demolition
2. Let’s Go
3. This Is Killing Me
4. Get Up
5. Stitches

Band:
Johnny Solinger – Lead Vocals
Dave “Snake” Sabo – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Scotti Hill – Guitar
Rachel Bolan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Rob Hammersmith – Drums

Producer: Dave “Snake” Sabo

Skid Row is one of the few name hair bands that hasn’t constantly been doing the tour/record/tour thing. Seems like they took a few years off even from touring, for some reason. I was starting to think that maybe there would never any new music from them since their first two albums with Johnny Solinger didn’t receive the highest of praise. I’ve always felt Sebastian Bach’s voice was what truly made the band special anyway. Yeah, they’ve written some great songs but other than Slave to the Grind, I don’t think they’ve ever written an entirely great album.

Still, when I read that Skid Row were going to release some new music (the plan is multiple EPs over the next year and a half or so), I had a good feeling about the album. I think the band is aware that people were not entirely enthusiastic with the previous Solinger albums and I felt they would proceed with that in mind. I actually think the cover for this EP is very striking as well and somehow (even though you shouldn’t judge an album by its cover) it gave me further hope.

Skid Row was always one of the darker and heavier hair bands (they eventually made the complete transfer from hair metal band to heavy metal band) and things are no different on United World Rebellion: Chapter One. This is solid 1980s sounding heavy metal full or anger and pessimism (as if you couldn’t tell by the EP’s title or cover art).

The only song that really doesn’t work for me is the ballad called “This Is Killing Me”. It’s a very simple, no-frills, lifeless ballad. Quite frankly, it sounds like something that Bret Michaels would write and record. The other four tracks are songs that I think fans of Slave to the Grind and Subhuman Race can appreciate. I’ve read comments elsewhere of someone complaining that this EP is trying too hard to sound modern. I don’t get that at all. Sound likes good late ’80s/early ’90s metal to me.

I’m very interested in hearing how the rest of the EPs are going to sound. I actually like this model of recording a lot. I’ve felt for awhile that older artists should mostly stick to releasing EPs and then compile them at a later date as a full album (as Skid Row plans on doing). I think too much time, effort and money goes into recording full albums for these bands who, let’s be honest, aren’t going to sell many albums in the first place. Slowly releasing EPs and then compiling them into an LP is a great way to keep your name out there and cut down on costs. Knock out five or six songs, go make some tour money during the summer, come back and knock out another five or six songs, repeat.

Highlights: “Kings of Demolition”, “Get Up”, “Stitches”

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Buy the EP at Amazon.com

Monster Madness

Various Artists – Monster Madness (2000, Razor & Tie Music)

1. “Dr. Feelgood” – Motley Crue – 4:51
2. “Unskinny Bop” – Poison – 3:48
3. “I Remember You” – Skid Row – 5:15
4. “Kiss Me Deadly” – Lita Ford – 4:01
5. “I Wanna Rock” – Twisted Sister – 3:04
6. “Silent Lucidity” – Queensryche – 5:49
7. “Epic” – Faith No More – 4:54
8. “Up All Night” – Slaughter – 3:47
10. “Don’t Treat Me Bad” – FireHouse – 3:58
11. “Hole Hearted” – Extreme – 3:40
12. “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” – Quiet Riot – 5:20
13. “In My Dreams” – Dokken – 4:21
14. “Wait” – White Lion – 4:03
15. “Easy Come, Easy Go” – Winger – 4:03
16. “I Saw Red” – Warrant – 3:50
17. “I’ll See You in My Dreams” – Giant – 4:45

Following Razor & Tie’s success with Monsters of Rock and Monster Ballads, here comes Monster Madness! Monster Madness is essentially Monsters of Rock 3 (Monsters of Rock 2 was released a few months before this album) and is certainly superior to MOR 2 (which was already scraping the bottom of the barrel) and is just as good as the original MOR album in my opinion.

I mean, just look at the songs here. “Dr. Feelgood”, “Unskinny Bop”, “I Remember You”, “I Wanna Rock”, “Wait”, “Bang Your Head”, “Hole Hearted”, “Don’t Treat Me Bad”… It’s a hair metal dream! Even the odd inclusion of Queensryche and Faith No More is welcomed because those are killer songs.

The album takes me back to my youth. No, not the ’80s but the year 2000 when I bought this album and my girlfriend at the time loved it because it had Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly” on it. I still remember her getting all excited when she heard it for the first time in years.

Just a great “feelgood” album filled with major acts and songs.

MONSTER BALLADS XMAS

Various Artists – Monster Ballads Xmas (2007, Razor & Tie Direct)

Track Listing:
1. “Jingle Bells” – Skid Row … 3:02
2. “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” – Winger … 4:06
3. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – Jani Lane … 3:35
4. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – Twisted Sister (w/ Lita Ford) … 4:09
5. “White Christmas” – Queensryche … 2:28
6. “Run Rudolph Run” – L.A. Guns … 3:10
7. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – FireHouse … 3:07
8. “Naughty Naughty Christmas” – Danger Danger … 4:56
9. “Blue Christmas” – Tom Keifer … 4:15
10. “Jingle Bell Rock” – Nelson … 2:52
11. “Silent Night” – Faster Pussycat … 4:13
12. “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” – Dokken … 4:01
13. “Happy Holidays” – Enuff Z’Nuff … 4:23
14. “Winter Wonderland” – Stryper … 3:34
15. “Christmas Love” – Billy Idol … 3:57

Produced by: Michael Anderson & Beka Callaway

Another album in the long-running Monster series from Razor & Tie, this time with a Christmas theme, although calling it “Monster Ballads Xmas” doesn’t make much since because most of these songs are not ballads. Why not just “Monster Xmas“? Or get really old school with “Monsters of Rock Xmas“?

Anyway, I picked the year of it’s release at Target, of all places. It’s a decent release, though it pales in comparison to 2008’s excellent We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year from Armoury Records.

I don’t have to tell you that Faster Pussycat, as always with compilations and cover albums, sticks out like a sore thumb here with their more recent and improved industrial sound. Just an awful rendition of “Silent Night”. What is it with “Silent Night” getting so screwed up on these metal Xmas compilations? Queensryche does a pretty bad version of “White Christmas” as well. Geoff Tate’s voice sounds horrible here. Like someone trying to sound like Edguy’s Tobias Sammett but totally failing.

Dokken’s version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” is actually pretty funny to me because of the fact that it sounds EXACTLY like a Dokken song. They totally made it their own and you’d swear Don wrote the song himself.

Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French, certainly inspired by the Christmas spirit after the success of A Twisted Christmas, executive produced.

Highlights: “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, “Naught Naughty Christmas”, “Blue Christmas”, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”, “Happy Holiday”

SKID ROW – Slave to the Grind

Skid Row – Slave to the Grind [“Clean” version] (1991, Atlantic Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Monkey Business” … 4:17
2. “Slave to the Grind” … 3:31
3. “The Threat” … 3:47
4. “Quicksand Jesus” … 5:21
5. “Psycho Love” … 3:58
6. “Beggar’s Day” … 4:02
7. “Livin’ on a Chain Gang” … 3:56
8. “Creepshow” … 3:56
9. “In a Darkened Room” … 4:57
10. “Riot Act” … 2:40
11. “Mudkicker” … 3:50
12. “Wasted Time” … 5:46

Band:
Sebastian Bach – Vocals
Dave Sabo – Guitar
Scotti Hill – Guitar
Rachel Bolan – Bass
Rob Affuso – Drums

Produced by: Michael Wagener & Dave Sabo

An absolute classic that finds the band at their best and Sebastian Bach just nailing it on every song. Say what you will about the guy but he’s one of the best rock vocalists ever and the evidence is all over this record. I ended up with the “clean” version (another Columbia House purchase, I think), with “Beggar’s Day” replacing “Get the Fuck Out”. That’s a win though because “Beggar’s Day” is the better song. I still break this one out every now and then and crank it.

“Quicksand Jesus”, “In a Darkened Room” and “Wasted Time” are three of the best ballads the genre has to offer.

Highlights: “Monkey Business”, “Slave to the Grind”, “The Threat”, “Quicksand Jesus”, “Psycho Love”, “Beggar’s Day”, “In A Darkened Room”, “Riot Act”, “Wasted Time”

www.skidrow.com
www.sebastianbach.com
www.myspace.com/skidrow
www.myspace.com/sebastianbach

The Killing Road

Everyone have their tickets? The tours are starting to kick off and I’m getting pumped for it. I live fairly close to Detroit and Chicago, so a lot of acts are coming my way.

As it stands right now, I’ll be hitting up Crue Fest on July 15th in Detroit and I CANNOT wait. Motley absolutely killed (With no opening act!) when I saw them in Pensacola, Florida, back on the Carnival of Sin tour and I know they’ll do the same here. I can only imagine it’ll be that much better having four other bands (Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Sixx:A.M., Trapt) playing with them.

Then on top of that, I’ll be getting my tickets to the August 18th ‘Metal Masters’ show (Priest, Heaven and Hell, Motorhead, Testament) in Detroit.

There’s also a Poison/Sebastian Bach/Dokken show on August 8th in Sterling Heights, but I don’t know if my budget will allow for it, but I’d love to go.

SEBASTIAN BACH – Angel Down

Sebastian Bach – Angel Down (2007, Get Off My Bach/Caroline/MRV Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Angel Down” (3:48)
2. “You Don’t Understand” (3:06)
3. “Back in the Saddle” (4:19)
4. “(Love Is) A Bitchslap” (3:08)
5. “Stuck Inside” (2:57)
6. “American Metalhead” (4:02)
7. “Negative Light” (4:33)
8. “Live & Die” (3:53)
9. “By Your Side” (5:27)
10. “Our Love Is a Lie” (3:20)
11. “Take You Down with Me” (4:37)
12. “Stabbin’ Daggers” (3:41)
13. “You Bring Me Down” (3:16)
14. “Falling into You” (4:21)

Band:
Sebastian Bach – Vocals
“Metal” Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Johnny Chromatic – Guitar
Steve DiGiorgio – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Bach is BACK, ladies and gentlemen. Y’know, I never cared to pick up Bach’s first solo album back with that was new (released way back in 1999), but I was pumped for this one. The songs I was hearing online sounded good (“By My Side” really won me over), plus the fact that AXL ROSE sings on three of the tracks here, I just had to have it.

It’s definitely not what I was expecting. I was assuming more of a 70s/80s hard rock vibe, but it’s actually a pretty modern heavy metal album, IMO, outside of a few tracks. No doubt, this sound came about thanks to the musicians found on the album: Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Iced Earth), Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Iced Earth, Testament) and “Metal” Mike Chlasciak (Halford). They all had a hand in writing/co-writing the songs, as did the album’s producer Roy Z, who has produced albums for Bruce Dickinson, all three Halford albums and Judas Priest’s Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus. Of course, Baz gets writing credits here too, though I supposed he probably helped with the lyrics more than anything else if his past work in Skid Row is any indication.

The three Axl tracks are three of the best from the album. There’s the awesome cover of Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle”, which places Axl right beside Sebastian on vocals, then “(Love Is) A Bitchslap”, and finally the modern rock sounding “Stuck Inside” (all conveniently are lumped together on the album). Axl’s voice sounds great on all of these and both really did great with the vocals on “Stuck Inside”.

Believe or not, in the midst of Axl Rose and all these metal musicians, a co-written Desmond Child song pops up (“Falling Into You”) and it’s pretty good. “By Your Side” is a great ballad and sounds like it belongs in the year 1988 (and I mean that as a compliment). I’ve heard a live radio brodcast of that song and Bach nails it exactly like he does on the album.

Overall, it’s a very good release, one of the better releases I heard in 2007. Though, it can be a bit of a mixed bag. The songs are all over the place: 70s hard rock (“Back in the Saddle”), modern hard rock (“Stuck Inside”), 80s ballads (“Falling Into You”, “By Your Side”) and modern heavy metal (“American Metalhead”, “Take You Down With Me”). The more heavy metal songs tend to blend in together and sound like one really long song, most of which “Metal” Mike and/or Roy Z had a hand in co-writing.

A shame the album didn’t do better, I figured especially with Axl doing vocals Angel Down would manage to scrape the very bottom of the Billboard 100 at least. But it was not to be, I think first week sales were just north of 6,000 copies. “(Love Is) A Bitchslap” was a poor choice as the lead single anyway, I think. It’s a great song, but “Back in the Saddle” would’ve been a safer choice (especially since Axl is featured prominently on it) and then I would’ve followed up with “Stuck Inside” which has a really modern hard rock sound that would’ve been suited prefectly for radio.

Highlights: “You Don’t Understand”, “Back in the Saddle”, “(Love Is) A Bitchslap”, “Stuck Inside”, “By Your Side”, “Our Love Is a Lie”, “Falling Into You”

YOUTH GONE WILD: Heavy Metal Hits of the 80’s, Volume 4

YOUTH GONE WILD: HEAVY METAL HITS OF THE 80s, VOLUME 4 (1998, Rhino Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Up All Night” – Slaughter (4:20)
2. “New Thing” – Enuff Z’Nuff (4:23)
3. “10,000 Lovers (In One)” -TNT (2:57)
4. “Walkin’ Shoes” -Tora Tora (4:04)
5. “Walls Come Down” – Every Mother’s Nightmare (5:17)
6. “Naughty Naughty” – Danger Danger (4:54)
7. “Down Boys” – Warrant (4:04)
8. “D’Stroll” – D’Molls (5:53)
9. “Hollywood” – Junkyard (3:01)
10. “Heartbreak Blvd” – Shotgun Messiah (4:20)
11. “Future World” – Pretty Maids (5:21)
12. “Set Me Free” – Heathen (3:48)
13. “The Calling” – Leatherwolf (4:04)
14. “Turn up the Radio” – Autograph (4:37)
15. “Badlands” – Metal Church (7:23)
16. “To Hell With the Devil” – Stryper (4:05)

Rhino’s 80s rock/metal compilation series comes to a close with this fourth volume that was released two years after the first three. 1998 was also the year that the wave of interest in the so-called “80s bands” was starting to rise again and many of the bands documented in this series have since gone on to have reunions, new albums, new tours to varying levels of success (not to mention the new breakups!).

At this point in the series, outside of really big name acts such as Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, KISS, Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, and Guns N Roses a lot of bands had already been covered and it seems Rhino tried to pick up the rest of scraps for Volume 4, giving many bands that were second or even third-tier acts (even at their peak of popularity) a track. So what we have here are bands like D’Molls, Junkyard, Heathen, Pretty Maids, Shotgun Messiah, and Every Mother’s Nightmare that were never very big and what small buzz they did build up was only just as the era was coming to a close.

While this volume may not pack a lot of star power outside of Warrant, Stryper, and Slaughter, that by no means affects the quality here. But I have to admit, I would rank this volume as the weakest of the series.

Overall, I’d say Rhino did a great job with the series, but had some questionable inclusions (Metal Church? King’s X? Sam Kinison?) and exclusions which I have previously stated I think mostly came down to not being able to afford the larger acts. I do believe there were quite a few bands that they still could have afforded to add on such as Kix, XYZ, Black ‘N’ Blue, Sleaze Beez, Trixter, Tuff, Nitro, W.A.S.P., Keel, Dirty Looks, and Babylon A.D. (just to name a few). And not in the least, Rhino certainly should have secured Skid Row a place here if they were going to name the series YOUTH GONE WILD. That’d be a no-brainer to me.

Highlights: “Up All Night”, “New Thing”, “Naughty Naughty”, “Down Boys”, “Hollywood”, “Turn Up the Radio”, “To Hell with the Devil”

Lowlights: “Badlands” by Metal Church. Not because it’s a bad song, but because it just doesn’t belong here.

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