Skid Row is one of my favourite rock bands of all time. Sadly, as with many other great acts, there were internal issues. Changes in personnel, record label trouble, the taking over of grunge over rock music in the 90s and other unpleasing situations to cite some. And the most controversial one would have been the band’s firing of their iconic frontman, Sebastian Bach sometime in 1996. Let’s talk about that at another time.
Today, I am writing about my excitement on the Skids new release, an EP called United World Rebellion Chapter 2 – The Rise of the Damnation Army. A trilogy of EPs released in phases, or Chapters as with this case.
Okay, sidetracking a bit, after the infamous parting of ways with Sebastian Bach, the band recruited Johnny Solinger to take over the vocal duties; the immaculate holy spot which Sebastian once stood in.
A talented and capable frontman, Solinger has what it takes to carry the responsibilities, and I think he did it very well in fact. But, after 3 records; Thickskin, Revolutions Per Minute and United World Rebellion Chapter 1, I think there is still a missing piece of a puzzle. Those records were good but they are not in the same league compared to what the band achieved with their first 2 albums.
Okay enough on the sidetracking bit, let’s talk about the subject which is this post.
Following-up from Chapter 1, Chapter 2 – Rise of the Damnation Army was released in 2014 I think and it was only like a few weeks ago I finally got the chance to listen to it. And you know what? I was completely blown away! I checked the prints again if this is really a Skid Row record, and YES I was damn right! This is the Skid Row record which I was waiting to hear for years man. I was ashamed to call myself a loyal fan as it took me like 3 years after the album has been out to finally hear it. Sorry Skid Row, I would not let it happen again.
There are 7 songs on this EP where 2 of them are covers; Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack and Aerosmith’s Rats in the Cellar, a similar approach as in Chapter 1. And this time, given how brilliant the 5 originals are, they made the cover songs sound like fillers.
We Are The Damned, Give It The Gun, Catch Your Fall, Damnation Army, Zero Day, Sheer Heart Attack and Rats In The Cellar.
We Are The Damned opens the record and immediately sets the mood for me. It has this punkish-feel perfectly blended with hard rock elements. An appropriate opener no doubt. Give It The Gun made way next, and my oh my, the guitar riffs and grooves stuck in my head, hooked. Hard rock at its most melodic moments here.
Now I was begging for more! And what follows next simply took my breath away. A beautiful ballad in the form of Catch Your Fall. I missed a great ballad from these guys since Into Another from Subhuman Race. This one caught my attention from the first go. Although it is not another 18 And Life or an I Remember You, it is a gem on its own, self-sustaining. I kept repeating the song for like 3 or 4 times before I played the next one. It is brilliant for all I could say.
Then without a warning, the next song Damnation Army came like a tsunami. This has all the right moments of Slave to the Grind. This will be the next Skid Row’s anthem for years to come. It has the band’s trademark all over it, perfect. Zero Day ends the 5 song EP with a bang making way for the 2 covers.
Wow, what a great record! Skid Row nailed it this time; big time. They have broken the spell on mediocrity and conjured a demon of a record instead. The musicianship was tight and Johnny Solinger deserves a standing ovation for his vocal works. This record reminded me very much like Slave To The Grind. I think this could have been the band’s intention; to revisit the creative formula which has made them the giants of Rock N Roll during the glory days.
One question here, will Chapter 3 will be this good? Will Skid Row reclaims their throne which they vacated since the first half of the 90s.
Any Skid Row or rock fans out there with your own opinions of the record? I would appreciate your views in the comments.
Signing-off with these great words from the song Damnation Army:
“Rebels we are, Held together by scars, The Rise of the Damnation Army.“