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Two years after their powerful debut, Skid Row record their second album called Slave to the Grind. Still in shape and more mature than their previous attempt, the band seems to know what they want and how to make new fans. Great guitar riffs and a very steady rhythm section by Bolan and Affuso, that keeps the train on the tracks.
The album begins with Monkey Business. A small acoustic intro and then comes an explosion of pure hard rock. Not a very fast song but it shows that they have got balls of rock. They are here to stay. Going on to higher speeds, the self-titled song makes you start banging your head with its speedy riff and a great solo. Bach proves that he is not just a pretty-face boy but a great singer that gets into the lyrics of the songs. Then, follows The Threat which in my opinion is one of the Top-2 moments of the album along with Riot Act. With this one we get a really catchy piece of rock with lyrics that don’t suck the system but confront it. And once again a great solo work.
Quicksand Jesus is the first of the three ballads in the album. These guys know how to write beautiful ballads, indeed. Not sleazy ones that make you hit the floor but emotional songs that send chills down your spine. You don’t hear the usual “darling I love you, don’t go away, I’ll die without you” but “are we ashamed of our own fate, or play the fool for our own sake”. There’s some difference there, no?
Psycho Love is not as good as the previous ones but still easy to hear, mid-tempo and catchy. It prepares the ground for Get the Fuck Out. The party is on dude!! It is nothing more than a very simple riff that gets you banging and singing. There’s not much to say about the two following songs. Living’ on a Chain Gang and Creep Show are in fact a bit boring but still cannot ruin the whole impression of the album though it is just mediocre.
Another ballad comes up. In a Darkened Room follows the steps of Quicksand Jesus. Pretty good and somehow melancholic, deserves to be in the album. Then…wow, what’s this? Something exploded in the speakers! I never wanted to be President, because it’s nothing but an ego trip, yeah. Fucking good, the best moment of Slave to the Grind, hard rock dynamite, Riot Act blows your head. Sebastian Bach screams and yells and lifts the song even higher. Just turn up the volume and enjoy!! GOD, thank you for this band.
The album is coming to an end, but not just yet. Mud Kicker has a lot to say. Another excellent performance by the Skids and a last kick in the ass that finishes you off before we get to…Wasted Time. This is by far one of the most beautiful ballads I have ever heard. It stands up to the standards of 18 and Life or the magnificent I Remember You. I don’t know how they do it every time. The best way to finish
what they started here.
Summing up, Slave to the Grind is not the best hard rock album ever released and maybe no one will remember it in 10 years. However, it is an album made by five guys who love this music and appreciate the chance they got to play it. Definitely, it is an album that needs to be in everyone’s collection.
Let’s be honest here, Skid Row have never been the most original band in the world. That’s not an attack on the quality of their music, but they tended to stick to what was popular at the time. In 1989, glam metal was all the rage, while bands like Guns N’ Roses was bringing a newer more aggressive style to the table. Around 1990/91 GnR were at the peak of their popularity, so Skid Row apparently decided to drop the glam style and go for a more heavy approach.
The result is Slave to the Grind. The change in style is not as drastic as say, Pantera, but it’s fairly sizable none the less (not to mention better than the Texans). Things kick off with “Monkey Business”, and all things considered it bears a lot of similarities to “Welcome to the Jungle”. It’s heavier, the vocals are better, but the vibe is there. If this had been on Appetite for Destruction it would have fitted right in. In some ways I prefer this to the Guns song, it’s more aggressive and that riff that comes in after Sebastian Bach shouts “Get Back!!!” is just deadly.
Ah, Sebastian Bach (or Sebitchian Bach if you’re a Sludgeaholic), one of the greatest singers ever to grace heavy metal. If he wasn’t such a whining bag of bullocks you could respect him (“Rock is dead, it’s the fans fault!”). He sounds about 11 years old when he speaks as well, but when he sings it’s a different story all together. Everything he screams just well, screams metal, really.
The title track is next, and whoa! Speed metal (a genre Guns never actually did) Valhalla! Everything about this is killer. Killer riffs, killer vocals, killer chorus, killer solos. Pure metal, enough said. “The Threat” slows things down but is still packed with attitude and aggression, with Baz doing what he does best (singing with aggression and attitude, not throwing things at fans).
Annoyingly, the awesomeness comes to a quick halt as we reach the first of THREE (this reminds me of Projects in the Jungle...) ballads, and this one is about as exciting as sand. It’s even called “Quicksand Jesus”! Okay so it’s quite THAT bad, but you have to remember that this is the same band that gave us “18 and Life”, and this has nothing on that classic. More filler comes in the shape of “Psycho Baz”, and as the name would suggest it’s pretty annoying.
“Get the Fuck Out” is filled with potential, but it all goes wrong when the riffs stop and Baz “sings” the title in a really homoerotic manner. Thanks for ruining that song, Mr Bach. Happily, this then goes onto “Livin’ on a Chain Gang”, which from start to finish is Shit-Kicking-Ownage. Sebastian sounds killer here as well, with his metallic ballsy shrieks and what not.
Skip through another boring ballad that sounds exactly the same as the first one and we hit “Riot Act”, another fast one. It’s a fun song to listen to, but doesn’t sound as developed as the other awesome tracks. “Mudkicker” has a similar vibe to “The Threat”, but isn’t QUITE as awesome.
Closing the album is ballad number three, “Wasted Time”, but this one’s actually pretty cool. Better than the first two and has a kick ass solo and some of the greatest shrieks ever, but it’s still not on par with the ballads from the first album.
Oh, shit, forget to mention the song “Creepshow”. It’s alright, I guess, kinda weak compared to some of the better tracks.
So, all in all, this album is pretty damn awesome, save for a couple of weak moments. It’s not quite Appetite for Destruction, but it’s not far off, and a definite improvement over the previous album (ballads aside). For what it’s worth, it’s certainly better than the Use Your Illusion albums of the same year. This goes highly recommended to all heavy metal and hard rock fans.
STOP PRESS: I just realised that track 5 is actually called “Psycho Love”. Almost immediately it sounds much more likable.
Skid Row's sleaze oriented debut album which was released in 1989 was a very good start for them and they enjoyed a huge success over the world. It wasn't until they made their second album "Slave To The Grind" that they reached their top if you ask me. Compared to their debut, this one's a lot heavier, angrier and it's even furious at some points. Skid Row went from being a sleaze metal band to become a cool heavy metal and nothing's better than some cool heavy metal. There's still a few "classic" Skid Row moments on here that reminds of their previous hits "18 & Life" and "I Remember You" but overall, this one's a lot more "fuck you!" than "please, don't leave me!".
It's clearly from the start that Skid Row have become heavier. We're talkin' about the classic opening track "Monkey Business" which is like a mix of their previous style and their new heavy fuckin' metal. The best song on here is defenitely the title track. Believe it or not, but this one's simply thrash metal and it's also the track that best shows what they've become. "Mudkicker" is another pure heavy metal monster with a little sleaze attatched to it and it certainly kick ass. We also get to hear punk in "Riot Act" while "Quicksand Jesus" and "Wasted Time" is responsible for the classic Skid Row power-ballad sound that we're formiliar with from the debut album. The rest of the tracks are cool heavy metal tunes. Some with a little sleaze influences and some with less.
The production on this album is great and it suits the music very well. The guitars are pretty raw and heavy which I think is totally excellent and the solos kicks ass as well. The only thing I'm a little negative on is the bass drum. It's too thin / turned down. Sometimes, it's so low that you don't even hear it. Apart from that, the production's very good.
The cast are great and they've probably never been better either. Snake and Scotti are totally amazing here and you can almost hear their guitars scream for mercy. Rob is a sick drummer! He's what a perfect drummer is, he's made of flesh and blood and every hit doesn't sound accurate to each other which shows that it's not a damn machine. Rachel's bass playing is excellent to say at least, I'm not too much into bass and don't really have an opinion on it. Finally, Sebastian is an amazing singer and his vocals are some of the best I've heard. He doesn't let me down here either.
So finally to my last comments on "Slave To The Grind"...
This is Skid Row's best album and I totally recommend it. I bought it a long time ago now and I don't regret a single swedish "krona" (as our money is called). You should check this one out if you're into bands like Warrant, Mötley Crüe, Whitesnake and other heavier acts.
For this review, I’ll transport you back to 1991 for a little historical perspective on Skid Row’s “Slave to the Grind”.
To say that the release of Skid Row’s second album “Slave to the Grind” was eagerly awaited is an understatement. Two years prior, they were the young guns of hair metal, taken under the wing of Bon Jovi and even won for themselves several mainstream music industry awards in the process. By 1991, they were poised to take over the whole hair metal scene. Or so we thought. In the scant two years since their self-titled debut, Skid Row underwent a maturation process which transformed them from glam heartthrobs to serious hard rock/heavy metal musicians.
Album opener “Monkey Business” opens with a bluesy guitar lick which soon transforms into a wicked riff that thumps and leaves the listener no option but to thrust their heads back and forth in unison. The title track is the biggest surprise on the album as it rips out of the speakers with ‘thrash’-like heaviness. Is this a Skid Row record that I’m holding? Yes it is, an older, meaner Skid Row for that matter. Track three, “The Threat”, continues with the heavy theme as it grooves in a pissed-off mid-tempo stomp. The guitar duo of Dave Sabo and Scotti Hill and the rhythm section of bassist Rachel Bolan and drummer Rob Affuso seemed to have a consciously heavy mindset on this one as their playing is harder and heavier than anything they’ve done before. One thing that’s constant though is the sublime vocal performance of Sebastian Bach. It seems the heavier music that he’s laid his vocal tracks over has made him a stronger and more credible performer. The first quartet of songs is closed out by a ballad, “Quicksand Jesus”, which again spotlights the outstanding vocals of Bach.
The next four tracks “Psycho Love”, “Get the Fuck Out”, “Living On A Chain Gang” and “Creepshow” are hard and heavy rockers that show how far Skid Row has distanced itself from its earlier inception that wrote such glam themed anthems like “Can’t Stand the Heartache”. The ballad “In A Darkened Room” shifts the tempo to a slower pace and this is one of the better ballads Skid Row has written in its career. “Riot Act” kicks up the intensity up a notch with its punk-ish vibe. The album’s lone low point, “Mudkicker” comes next and there’s no point in expounding. The album comes to close with yet another ballad, “Wasted Time” and I agree with whoever says that three ballads in an album is way too much. But then again, if the ballads were all this good then I don’t have any problem with that. “Wasted Time” is the best among the three on this album and can probably rival “I Remember You” as Skid Row’s best.
Overall, “Slave to the Grind” is a harder and heavier album than anyone expected. Rather than follow in the footsteps of their mentors and become Bon Jovi Junior, Skid Row chose to blaze its own path with their own sound. And they turned out to be a better band because of it.
Its hard to think of any straight up metal album that can match up to Skid Row's sophomore classic Slave to the Grind. Armored Saint's Symbol of Salvation and Def Leppard's High N' Dry perhaps, maybe some Love/Hate, but in general there really is no better record in the genre to blast in your car on your way to work, or the bar, or a killer party. This album is the aural equivalent of an old school club, the lights dim so you can't see the grime on the walls, the folks liquored up and ready to rock, and what seems to your foggy senses to be the best fucking rock band in the world kicking up a ruckus on the stage.
Following their happy-go-ghetto first album, with its pathos-laden morality plays side by side with so-hair-it-hurts anthems like "Can't Stand the Heartache", Skid Row decided to hit the figurative gym and pump a little metaphorical iron and man does it show. This album sounds muscular, the pristine production avoiding the glitter of the Spencer Proffer/Mutt Lange school of sound but making sure all of the monster riffs and meaty grooves got their place in the mix. There are influences all over this thing, GNR's ugly anti-glam hair metal, rough and tumble punk ("Riot Act"), and some touches of Aerosmith and Killing Machine-era Priest but no matter what sound hat the band try on their own unique style still shines through. The Skids retain their eye for hooks, but here they're usually chained to the record's low-slung rhythmic assault and darkened up considerably. This is 'hair' that one should feel no shame rocking to; there's a grinning skull with evil intentions underneath those perfect coifs.
Its also here that the mercurial Sebastian Bach steps up to the plate as one of metal's foremost talents, one of those rare singers who can do absolutely anything. Make no bones about it, the guy has enough aggression in his voice to capably front a tough-as-nails thrash unit, and the range to wipe the slate clean of namby-pamby German power metal singers. His ragged screams can only be described as freakin' nuts, and his phrasing has elements of Mustaine's bent sense of melody and Hetfield's twang. It is an absolute pleasure hearing a singer with this much confidence singing songs this strong, from the hellish swagger of "Livin' on a Chain Gang" to the raucous singalong "Creep Show" to the ballad-par-excellence "Wasted Time".
The guitar tandem of Bolan and Sabo rock too, surely one of the most underrated duos out there. The boys roll out riff after awesome riff and lead after molten lead. Highlights include the pendulum-like swing riffage of "Monkey Business" (Aerosmith on 'roids), speed metal maelstrom "Slave to the Grind", and the totally sweet techy breakdown/solo (2:30-2:50) tucked into the otherwise pedestrian "Psycho Love". This band is tight tight tight, locking in with a precision sound that belies their sloppy image, slicing solos and brilliant harmonies soaring o'er top the unstoppable chug of the unstoppable rhythm section.
No song on here is completely worthless, with the possible exception of the aenimic "Get the Fuck Out", but a few fillers like "Psycho Love" and "Mudkicker" do slip through. Also, three ballads is probably overdoing it; although all of them are good, only "Wasted Time" matches up to their previous efforts and the fact that they account for a fourth of the album sorta breaks the momentum up a bit. Interestingly however, the ballads almost act like chapter breaks, "Quicksand Jesus" closing up the opening barrage of "Monkey Business", the title track, and "The Threat", the other two similarly bookending the heavy material.
Frankly though, I'm not sure how much good this longish review will do ya. This isn't an album you contemplate, its an album that you feel from your banging head to your stomping feet. This is a great gift for your favourite biker looking to mix up his collection of AC/DC, ZZ Top, and Nazareth scorchers, the perfect pal for long car rides, a great soundtrack to a boozy party... really, the thing is an indispensable spin for anybody who loves music that just flat-out rocks. Go get it!
Standout Tracks: "Monkey Business", "Livin' on a Chain Gang", "Slave to the Grind"
The follow-up to the classic rocker debut album of Skid Row was quite a disappointment. Definitely more metal in approach and music, but far less inspired. The songs mostly have quite the same vibe as the debut. Opening track "Monkey Business" for example sounds like any "Big Guns" or "Sweet Little Sister" only about ten times heavier than these. Though "Monkey Business" is a damn good song.
But the majority of the songs on here are insanely boring, and it seems that either they tried too hard or they weren't trying at all. Whatever the case is, in here it seems that they've gotten themselves a more socially aware approach, trying to make a more intelligent and political record, and failing quite badly.
But I'll start out with the highlights. Previously mentioned album opener is pretty groovy, with some nice slower groovy parts here and there and catchy gang vocals on the chorus. Also, the short and punchy "Get The Fuck Out" is pretty damn fun, despite the kinda silly lyrics.
The rebellious "Riot Act" is alright too, as is the catchy, defiant songs "The Threat" and "Living On A Chain Gang". But of course, there's one absolute highlight.
"I won't be the one left behind - You can't be king of the world if you're slave to the grind!" Yes, fuckers, this song is every bit as good as you've been told, probably a bit better. It's sickeningly catchy and memorable, and SO FUCKING HEAVY! Total headbanging-madness inducing main riff, and coupled with that powerful chorus and a strong vocal performance by Sebastian Bach, we have here probably the best Skid Row song with him on vocals.
That's six good songs out of 12. Half the album is tolerable. The other half? Urgh. We have two hideous ballads, "Quicksand Jesus" and "In A Darkened Room". Once I was really drunk and listening to "Quicksand Jesus" and I was feeling rather deep, sitting there and thinking "hey, this is pretty good." I decided to give it another chance the morning after, when I was more sober, and then it suddenly sucked again. Yeah, this band shouldn't try to do deep ballads with a meaning.
Then there are the extremely boring rockers that plague the album, that try to be more introspective or whatever than the debut but come off as damn uninspired and hollow, with no feeling or inspiration in it, which definitely wasn't a problem on Skid Row's first album. Nothing memorable whatsoever about mediocre heavy metal tracks like "Psycho Love", "Creepshow" or "Mudkicker", they're all completely unremarkable and most of the time quite worthless.
This album may be pretty fucking heavy, but half of it lacks any good songwriting skill to complement the new found crushing guitar work.
Oh yeah, I almost forget. The album closer "Wasted Time" is also a ballad, and unlike the other two this one's pretty good at times. Very nice guitar melodies on the verses, pretty unusual, and a very powerful pre-chorus and chorus segment part also stands out. Good stuff.
Yeah, half of this album completely lacks any sort of credibility, honesty and feeling in the songwriting. And even the good tunes like "The Threat", "Living On A Chain Gang" or "Riot Act" are quite well below the average song on the debut. Though of course, the monstrous title track rises well above them all. What the fuck is that piece of speed metal doing on this piece of crap?
This is the second release of Skid Row "Slave To The Grind".After the splendid first album "Skid Row" the Skids are back with an amazing album.This album is much heavier,however this disc was successful but not as their first.If you think that Skid Row is a "glam" band you must listen to this work and the following "Subhuman Race".The band had supported this album by touring with Pantera.The album starts with "Monkey Bussiness",this song has a intro which reminds me blues songs but then Sebastian screams and a great riff crams into the song.From this first track you understand that this album would be heavier than the first.The second song is the album track "Slave To The Grind" fast,pounding and heavy,this is a ripping song, pure heavy metal.The chorus is also incredible in this song.This is one of my favorites in this disc also because of the wicked guitar rhythm and the angry vocals of Sebastian Bach.Amazing song!The album continues with another powerful and heavy song "The Threat".There also three powerful ballads in this album with the first being "Quicksand Jesus",this song has a stunning rhythm and melody,one of the best songs in this album.The vocals of Sebastian Bach fit perfectly with the tune of this song.After this ballad the album continues to smash with the fifth song "Psycho Love" this song has a very good bass intro and an amusing rhythm.The sixth track however is better and the name of this song is "Get The Fuck Out" which has a great heavy guitar riff and a strong rhythm.This is song is terrific pure heavy metal.The seventh song "Livin' On Chain Gang" is full of energy and heaviness this song contains a great guitar riff and a ripping chorus.One the best in this album.The album keeps to strike heavily with "Creepshow" another good song.The eighth song is one of the most emotional ballads of Skid Row "In A Darkened Room" the lyrics of this song are wonderful,the song starts with a melodic guitar tune which hypnotizes you.The chorus of this song is also great and the vocals of Sebastian Bach are full of passion,yes this man has one of best voices i've ever heard he is awesome.The album continues with two heavy songs "Riot Act" and "Mudkicker" two songs with heavy powerfull riffs check them out.The album closes with another power ballad "Wasted Time" the solo of this song is stunning too, this song is full of passion and feelings too.One of my best power ballads!The production of the album is very good heavy still melodic.Skid Row kick ass in this album and all of you that you are saying that this is just a glam rock band go listen to this pure heavy metal album.The guys know how to write powerful heavy catchy songs.If you liked the first album or you are heavy metal fan you must take this album.
Like so many other bands including Laaz Rockit, Chimaira, and Pantera, Skid Row started off playing pop metal before growing some balls and doing their own thing. The same band that subjected the world to “I Remember You” would later release an ass-kicking set of aggressive and entertaining Guns ‘n’ Roses-styled hard rock songs. In fairness to Skid Row though, they always had an edge over the other hair bands, with superior levels of aggression and the walking attitude, Sebastian Bach, whose ballsy screams are among the best in metal.
With Slave to the Grind, the band has carved out a bleeding gash of a niche in their field. While ostensibly not really metal, the high-octane pace and guttural guitar sound assaults the listener’s ears in the same way. Unlike metal though, the songs are all party-worthy, on levels on par with Andrew W.K. except that they actually took talent to write. This is one of the heaviest albums that you could get hot girls to shake their asses to.
One pleasing thing about the album is the varied songwriting. The faster songs such as “Slave to the Grind”, “Get the Fuck Out”, and “Riot Act” are well suited to driving at ridiculously high speeds while the thickly grooved slower numbers including “Psycho Love”, “The Thread”, and “Mudkicker” are terrific material for blasting while cruising. They even sound contemporary enough today that one need not feel like they should be driving a rusted Camaro while playing them!
Besides the crushing guitars, the album is given its extra dose of heaviness by Bach. He manages to cram more attitude into each note he sings than thought humanly possible, and his range is phenomenal. He can go from a pissed-off growl to his signature howl with ease. His stylistic range keeps the music interesting the whole time.
The one thing taking away from the heaviness of the album, though, is the fact that they put not one, not two, not four, but three ballads on here. Three! That’s three too many, actually. None of the ballads are that great. “In a Darkened Room” is the most listenable, while “Wasted Time” makes an attempt at being progressive and doesn’t quite succeed. “Quicksand Jesus”, however is utter ape jizz. Songs like these pepper the album at strategic intervals, likely to make sure right as you’re getting into the music, the fun is broken by these silly and trite elegies.
Ballads notwithstanding, Slave to the Grind is one of the best sleaze-rock records you could ever hope to find, rivalling Appetite for Destruction. It finds the best possible mix of accessibility and metallic power and delivers it to you with crystal clear sound quality. Unless you’re some diehard metal fan who won’t listen to a band if their music isn’t at least 80% blastbeats and cookie monster vocals, there’s no reason this shouldn’t be in your collection. That’s all that I have to say about that.
Wow. I always thought Skid Row were a glam band (no, my knowledge of their early stuff circa the s/t album isn't as expansive as the next guy's maybe, but I'd heard bits and pieces here and there, and didn't like what I heard). But a friend of mine who works in a record store happened to throw this album on one day, and it Aerosmith were a heavy fucking metal band, it might sound like this (take note, I don't even like Aerosmith). Fact is, this album's got great bluesy guitar work and CRUSHING riffs, especially on the opener Monkey Business. Nothing on this album is particularly fast (the title track is probably the fastest-paced song on here, and it's not exactly lightning speed), and I wouldn't have it any other way. The songs are energetic where they should be, and just lay back and rock out at other times with classy solos and Sebastian Bach's absolutely mind-blowing vocals. It's no wonder he was on Broadway, his voice is ridiculously good. What a range! Goddamn. There's something really heavy about this album, but it's not just amplification (though it has that too). The riffs are heavy in a groovy/blues-metal kind of way (Monkey Business, Psycho Love, The Threat), and some of the songs have those shout-along gang choruses that you know must be killer in concert (Riot Act, Slave to the Grind). Some of the songs aren't as remarkable as others, but most of the album is really fucking solid and a standout addition to my meager collection! Two thumbs way up, check it out, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Okay, now this album just cannot possibly be mistaken for glam. Ever. Unless you are some sort of fucking idiot, in which case you probably think "Slayer is speed metal, you cunt!" But, I digress...
There are some really fucking great thrashers here, and then some songs that just don't make much sense. The thing here is, that Skid Row really aren't capable of writing a good midpaced song that just doesn't turn boring. The first album had that sort of problem too for the most part - the most exciting songs were the upbeat ones, with the only exception being "18 and Life".
On here, we start with two fucking insane songs - Monkey Business, well, it has an acoustic intro verse, and then suddenly we're going about 714 miles per hour through the chorus. Sebastian Bach really does well on the vocals here - melodic and powerful at the same time. Next, "Slave to the Grind". The best damn song Skid Row ever did. "YOU CAN'T BE KING OF THE WORLD, IF YOU'RE SLAVE TO THE GRIND."
Total fucking speed metal. That song gives new meaning to the word "maximum ownage" - not supposed to be headbanging this much, I'm not listening to Painkiller.
Oh then the album falls apart quite quickly. "The Threat" is pretty boring, and so is "Quicksand Jesus." "Get the Fuck Out" is okay, but really it could've been so much more if the chorus didn't get completely misplaced - the way "get the fuck out!" is said, it's more sarcastic than aggressive, and the corresponding dropping of the guitars completely ruins the song.
"Riot Act" is the only other song that comes out of nowhere and destroys without mercy. Yep, you guessed it, it's pretty damn fast.
So there's three really good songs here, the rest forgettable. Man, if Skid Row had wanted to, they could've put out one of the best damn speed metal albums ever - those three songs feature catchy 80s sensibility, great riffs, really good vocal performance, everything... but no, then they decided to waste the rest of the album. Society's loss, I presume.