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Not quite Appetite for Destruction, but close... - 83%

The_Blacksmith, March 17th, 2009

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.