Sebastian Bach
Angel Down


3.5
great

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
November 4th, 2007 | 19 replies | 19,242 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Axl Rose joins Sebastian Bach for his first album of original material since splitting with Skid Row

It was a match made in heaven, one for the ages. Jagger and Richards bonded over gritty American blues; Elvis and Liberace bonded over repressed sexuality; and former Skid Row screamer Sebastian Bach bonded with Guns N’ Roses survivor Axl Rose over a common interest in not releasing albums. Rose’s cautious (read: non-existant) approach to the commercial music market is well known, while Bach’s chosen to remain, for the most part, off the map since acrimoniously parting company with the Skids in 1996, limiting his creative output to cover albums and the odd original composition with low-key side projects. As public personae, they could hardly be more different: Rose is quiet and withdrawn; Bach, a loudmouth party animal (in the nicest way possible). When he was invited to support Guns N’ Roses during the band’s first successful European tour in a decade, Sebastian set aside plans to record his first solo album of original material, Angel Down, and laid it down it on his own dollar in the gaps between performance runs. His virtual ever-presence on successive tours was likely a major reason why there were tours plural, and his own raised profile earned him a major label deal with EMI subsidiary Merovingian Records as a result. The irony will no doubt be lost on his former bandmates; they’ve suffered from limited distribution and limited interest since resurrecting the Skid Row name in 1999.

As Skid Row frontman, Sebastian Bach pushed the “metal” in pop metal just about as far as it would go with the landmark 1991 album Slave To The Grind- the scene collapsed shortly after. Angel Down pretty much picks up where that album left off, except in place of the punk-influenced players of old, Bach’s assembled a squad of revered old school heavy metal players: virtuoso bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Sadus); progressive drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Painmuseum, Demons and Wizards); and powerhouse guitarists Metal Mike Chlasciak (Halford, Testament) and Johnny Chromatic. Their skills are immediately apparent with opening pairing ‘Angel Down’ and ‘You Don’t Understand.’ The title track is a dynamic, crushing number which somehow reconciles the notion of the cowbell with the 21st Century and boasts one of Bach’s most incisive, piercing vocals, though, at an almost constant scream, it’s difficult to make out the words. Changing tack completely, standout track ‘You Don’t Understand’ is a highly melodic NWOBHM number, hinging upon harmonised lead guitar lines and the singer’s Dickinson-like higher register theatrics.

Continuing in the chronological vein, three tracks featuring Rose follow, the first sanctioned recordings of the singer to emerge since 1999. Aerosmith cover ‘Back In The Saddle’ (or should that be ‘Bach In The Saddle’) is laced with double meanings for both singers, but that’s not the only reason it sticks out. Stylistically it’s different from everything else on the album and, while in retrospect Joe Perry’s aggressive funk-blues riff seems tailor-made for its metal makeover, the band are subdued and seem to play within themselves. It would be the dullest of covers were it not for the riotous vocal performances of both Bach and Rose, trading lines and raucous screams with a carefree abandon 1970s Steven Tyler would be proud of, and 2000s Steven Tyler would kill or be killed for. Lead single ‘(Love Is) A Bitchslap’ is one of five tracks co-written with producer Roy Z, of Bruce Dickinson fame. A braindead stadium rocker in the ‘Riot Act’/‘Big Guns’ mold, it’s burdened with lyrics so bad they almost can’t be ignored and another unusually disinterested instrumental showing, but it’s catchy and instantly memorable. Rose himself requested to be featured in the sludgy rocker ‘Stuck Inside,’ and his raspy supporting melodies during the track’s final phase add depth to the sub-Alice In Chains refrain.

Aside from a few hiccups, Angel Down is instrumentally and vocally superb. Bach sounds more confident and more agile than he’s ever been, while the drumming in particular stands out as an important feature in the mix. Roy Z’s touch is so deft as to be scarcely noticeable; the mix is clear and distinct without sounding polished, and bassists will be delighted to know that Steve DiGiorgio’s talents are well accounted for. His nimble-fingered watery bassline opens ‘Negative Light’ which, alongside Metal Mike’s ‘American Metalhead,’ ‘Stuck Inside’ and ‘Our Love Is A Lie,’ highlight the central fusion of styles which define the album: the dynamic intercourse between aggressive Bay Area thrash and grungier, Sabbath-esque sections. While technically impressive, the formula becomes a little predictable after a while, and its limits are glaringly exposed when the melodies themselves fall short of the required standard, most notably with ‘Our Love Is A Lie’ and ‘Live & Die.’

The album’s one great track is a throwback to the best of Skid Row’s ballads. ‘By Your Side,’ co-written by Sebastian and Roy Z, bears a vague resemblance to 1991’s ‘I Remember You’- which, coincidentally, Bach had no role in writing. Sparsely arranged and mostly acoustic, the five-and-a-half minute track is carried by the strength of the melody and a stunning vocal which, though not technically perfect, is deeply passionate and physically felt. Closing ballad ‘Falling Into You,’ written with Bon Jovi’s unofficial fifth member Desmond Child, doesn’t even come close. Similarly, Angel Down is a little too inconsistent to consider the equal of Skid Row’s classic first two records, but with strong songwriting and one of the best instrumental sections in modern metal, it’s a big step in the right direction.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
ohcleverhansyou
November 4th 2007



885 Comments


Pretty good review, Bach missed a huge chance not renaming "Back in the Saddle
Again." The line-up looks promising too. This Message Edited On 11.04.07

TheStarclassicTreatment
November 4th 2007



2910 Comments


Jarzombek on drums makes me think that the rest of his band must be really strong also.
Bach is really good, though really cheesy, so I'll pick this up soon.
Good review Plath.

ASberg
November 4th 2007



2161 Comments


Sounds kind of interesting, might check it out.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2007



2634 Comments


That can be deleted after you get your chuckles.
Really great review, you made something that seemed so NOT intriguing something that I should check out, just to see how it is. Also, I fixed one of your tags for you, hope you don't mind. You had a capital I instead of an 'l' for one of your band tags.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2007



2634 Comments


I really wish "November 20" (his rap on his mySpace) was a hidden track on here, though. "I'ma pop you in the chest, g!" is arguably the best lyric... of the month?

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2007



15727 Comments


Guns N’ Roses survivor Axl Rose


That's a nice way of saying dickhead.

Digging: A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent

CushMG15
November 5th 2007



1802 Comments


I might check this out. Listening Party?

Willie
Moderator
November 6th 2007



15876 Comments


If it has Steve DiGiorgio and Bobby Jarzombek on it then I'll buy it without ever hearing a note...

As for obscure side-projects, I didn't know the Frameshift album he was on would be considered obscure... but, yeah, thinking about it, it probably is.This Message Edited On 11.06.07

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

AtavanHalen
November 6th 2007



17927 Comments


A friend of mine once interviewed Sebastian Bach. Bach walked out within ten minutes.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
November 6th 2007



4926 Comments


Jonahh Sebastian Bach >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Sebastian Bach

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2007



15727 Comments


^Well played.

Willie
Moderator
November 6th 2007



15876 Comments


heh, well for a singer who's sold 10 million albums it would probably count as obscure
If that's the measure we're going by, and given the state of album sells in general these days... everything he does will be obscure from now on ;)

Thor
November 7th 2007



10176 Comments


Dudeeeeeee....DiGiorgio and Jarzombek in the same album.

Even though I wouldn't pick this up...that's amazing.

funhouse
November 8th 2007



28 Comments


Hmm... I'm not convinced enough to buy this, but this is worth a steal.

botb
November 11th 2007



9521 Comments


Jonahh Sebastian Bach >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> > Sebastian Bach


I'm assuming you meant Johann?

Zoo
November 11th 2007



3759 Comments


Bach isn't even his real last name.

hellyeah
November 24th 2007



1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Dave, you are a fair dinkum dead-shit. You give Britteny Spears 4 stars and Sebastian Bach 3.5. You need your head read, and give up your day job, knob head.

TheStarclassicTreatment
December 15th 2007



2910 Comments


Perhaps I'll go eay eat some bread. In the shed. Instead.

Haha, that's fucking hilarious!

SlashRhoads
April 20th 2008



10 Comments


good album bachh is insane



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