Skid Row blew through town recently on one of those 80s-revival tours, headlining over Winger and Warrant, and I felt, like most people do in these circumstances, that the Skids deserve better. Sure, in their early days they scored big, lighter-waving, I-just-bought-my-first-mansion-in-cash glam metal hits, but by their double-platinum ferocious second album, 1991’s Slave To The Grind, they had settled into a pile-driving arena-thrash sound that was miles away from the hair-care bunch.
Losing their Adonis frontman Sebastian Bach somewhere in the 90s was certainly a blow to their momentum, as was a spotty discography and a revolving door of singers. You can blame grunge too, if you want. But there is an alternative timeline out there where nobody blew it, where Skid Row soared through fallow times with thunder and grace, and that timeline would’ve also ended up with The Gang’s All Here.
Maybe in that one Bach would still be doing the throat-shedding screams, but Swedish Idol winner and former H.e.a.t man Erik Grönwall does such a phenomenal job filling those very large shoes that you hardly notice. He may not look the part, but he sure as fuck sounds like a six-foot, leather-lunged God Of Rock. That’s the good news. The better news is that this is easily the best Skid Row record since Slave.
Opener Hell Or High Water is essentially a Monkey Business redux, all chuggy riffs and chest-thumping whoops. The real killer comes next, though. The title track is not only a grand declaration of good times in the classic The Boys Are Back In Town mould, it’s also just a monster of a track, full of fire and spunk and fist-pumping energy that would’ve shaken arenas to pieces back in their heyday. And the album is packed with that kinda stuff.
The magical mixture they’ve landed on here is mixing the sparkling pop hooks of their first album with the more rip-snorting metal of their follow-up. And while the album should all sound like some canned time capsule from the MTV era, instead it sounds fresh, invigorating and essential.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Skid Row without a power ballad, but thankfully, they leave the slow-dancer, October’s Song, on the back end of the album. It’s fine in a rainy, grunge-lite sorta way. But the bulk of the album is full-on, victory or death, maximum rock’n’roll. A truly remarkable comeback. With any luck, after this album they’ll never have to play with fucking Warrant ever again.