Once again, those fans hoping that each subsequent Sebastian Bach solo album might bring that elusive “return to Skid Row” form are out of luck. While there are traces of past Skid Row glories, mostly in the form of “Subhuman Race” concrete-sledge melodic nuggets (think that album’s “Frozen”) and, if you stretch it, maybe a glimmer of “Slave to the Grind” balladry (“In a Darkened Room” comes to mind). For the most part, though, Bach’s wiped his past slate clean (the Sabo/Bolan songwriting qualities, to be specific) with a decidedly darker and heavier album than his last studio effort, 2011’s “Kicking and Screaming.”
“Give ‘Em Hell” is guided by the pen of producer Bob Marlette and new guitarist Devin Bronson (Avril Lavigne, Butch Walker). As would be expected having his name attached to the project, Marlette, who has worked modern rock wonders with bands like Shinedown and Saliva, dials in the same thick wall of compression-infused audio that prominently factors into said bands’ sounds.
Opening track “Hell Inside My Head” begins with a sinister detuned riff that made one of Bach’s heroes, Rob Halford’s, last few solo albums so crushingly fun – not entirely ironic since Halford drummer Bobby Jarzombek pounds the skins throughout.
The frantic BPM of “Harmony” is like a hysterical heartbeat in its grime-soaked, Iggy and The Stooges chording, barely giving the listener time to breathe. “All My Friends Are Dead” provides a mid-tempo, radio-friendly hook that would be a great choice for a single; it’s much better, in fact, than first single “Temptation” that, despite a Godzilla guitar riff by guest John 5 and jaw-rattling bass by Duff McKagan, seems a bit overdone.
Not quite the raw headsmack of a “Youth Gone Wild” or “Monkey Business,” yet no less impacting in its tempered emotion, “Give ‘Em Hell” is an album that should re-up Bach’s “metal” stock, utilizing the heaviest of 21st century studio polish and plenty of attitude to burn.
Sebastian Bach ‘Give ‘Em Hell’ Rating: W W W W