Skid Row
Slave to the Grind


4.5
superb

Review

by BigHans USER (108 Reviews)
November 10th, 2009 | 44 replies | 4,068 views


Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An essential metal release that stands up to any of the multi-platinum juggernauts released in 1991.

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

In the early 90’s, as the tuned down sludge emanating from Seattle was effectively laying waste to Glam metal, a cavalcade of desperate hair metal warriors scrambled to re-invent their sound, releasing “departure albums” that either tried to be grunge or a feeble attempt at real metal. The “new” glam sound ranged from the embarrassingly bad: Def Leppard’s “Slang” and Poison’s “Native Tongue,” to merely below average: Winger’s “Pull,” and Warrant’s “Dog Eat Dog.” Motley Crue’s reinvention with the John Corabi experiment can probably be considered a notch above, but a description above “average” would be a strong reach.

At their inception, Skid Row took a different path than their brethren. They came on to the scene late, only two years before the executioners named Staley, Cobain, and Vedder came calling. They were from New Jersey, not the Sunset Strip, and while their debut album was bristling with over the top hair metal stereotypes, it had a tougher edge, and laid the foundation for what was about to come. The sound was glam for sure, but it was dirtier, largely thanks to the effective macho posturing of frontman Sebastian Bach and the underlying sleaze embodied by guitarists Scotti Hill and Dave “The Snake” Sabo, and bassist Rachel Bolan. They wrote soaring ballads, laid down chart topping formulaic rock hits, and still tried really hard to get chicks. The only difference is they did it with attitude, not Ferraris and blow.

Skid Row had several advantages over their glam counterparts. The singer, aside from being a recalcitrant and utterly obnoxious diva, was legit, arguably one of the greatest hard rock vocalists of the last 25 years (talent wise anyway). This album was released in 1991, the same year as Metallica’s Black and the “Use Your Illusion” projects. Metal was still alive, and it was shown as “Slave to the Grind” became the first metal album to enter the Billboard Charts at #1.
It’s hard to say whether “Slave To The Grind” was created specifically to disassociate from Glam Metal or if these guys were simply “metal” at heart and wanted to show it. Regardless of the motivation, this album is one rollicking, ass kicking, chest thumping, boisterous metal masterpiece. Filled with over-the top screams, “all dudes together” chorus chants, a deliciously groove saturated bottom end, and ferocious guitar playing, “Slave to the Grind” delivers a fervent intensity that makes every other glam band’s attempt to sound legit seem laughable.

Unlike their debut, there are no songs about Sweet Little Sisters, Big Racks (Guns), Rattlesnake Shakes, or tender love ballads. There are ballads, but they are about drugs, abandonment, and being completely f*cking lost, not about taking long walks on the beach with a high school flame. The heavier tracks are bristling with thick and quick riffs, complimented nicely by a much improved rhythm section. The lyrical content is an ode to the dregs of society, the junkies, pimps, prisoners, and punks. In order to match the lyrical content and musical style, Bach spends a large portion of the album trying to sound as tough and macho as humanly possible, and for the most part it works deliciously. He ranges from ear shattering screams to low register growls, and finishes the package with amazingly stark clean vocals on the ballads. As was often intended in the glam metal genre, the vocalist was supposed to be the centerpiece, complimenting the vapid power chord pondering of the CC Deville’s of the world. Bach is the rare genre frontman that steals the show for legitimate reasons, and combined with the superior musicianship of the band, the finished package unquestionably delivers.

The opener, “Monkey Business,” is one of those songs that you put on to purposely kick the ass of the person next to you. Opening with a foreboding and bluesy acoustic lick, the track explodes with a face melting scream from Back set atop one of the grandest riffs you will ever hear. Combined with rapid fire vocals and a huge chorus, “Monkey Business,” to use a famously bad pun, means serious business. Simply put, it’s one of the best metal songs of the 90’s and a perfect way to set the tone for the record. Wasting no time, “Monkey Business” bolts directly into the title track, which carries a thrash-like riff and an impossibly good groove, topped off yet again by a huge “dude chant” chorus. “The Threat” does little to slow down the pace, and finishes off one of the strongest opening quarters to an album in recent memory.

Scattered throughout the album are three strong ballads that add a nice change of pace instead of being merely obligatory throw ins to sell records. “In a Darkened Room,” “Quicksand Jesus,” and “Wasted Time” are all ominous and gorgeous at the same time. The former is the closest comparison to a quintessential power ballad, the middle is the most pleading, and the latter is the final piece to the record, chronicling a perilous downfall from drug use. All three combine strong melodies with soaring vocals, and “Wasted Time” is especially one of Bach’s strongest efforts, delivering the line “I see you scream in agony, but the horse stampedes and rages in the name of desperation” in a totally convincing and heartfelt manner.

The rest of the album is chalk full of hard charging juggernauts with very little filler or weaknesses. “Riot Act” is a blistering punk-like anthem that serves up a wallop of ass-kickery courtesy of a furious pace and enormous chorus. “Mudkicker” is pure sludge, showcasing an infectious funk-like riff and some of Bach’s more guttural vocals. “Living on a Chain Gang” begins with furious screaming by Bach complimented by the classic formula of a start-stop riff, before melding into much higher speeds and you guessed it, a huge chorus. “Creepshow” “Psycho Love,” and “Get The *** Out,” or “Beggars Day,” depending on which version you own, are probably the weakest tracks offered, although they can still be considered average at worst.

Much like their glam metal brethren, Skid Row suffered a fast fall from grace, and to be fair, they themselves tried to go grunge three years later with “Subhuman Race.” Despite this, they are one of the few bands from the genre to release a masterpiece, let alone one that brought a stark departure of style with it. “Slave To The Grind” is a perfect melding of strong riffs and grooves, and a wild diva-like frontman that made monumental boasts but delivered the goods with little effort. This is an album to listen to before a fight, while driving, and when releasing aggression. There is very little to complain about, every track is solid, and it sounds as fresh today as it did 18 years ago. 1991 was a monumental year in the music industry, and "Slave to The Grind" holds up against any of the blockbuster juggernauts released that year.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
BigHans
November 10th 2009



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I probably sound like a Skid Row fanboy, which I'm not. This has been one of my favorites for years.

Willie
Moderator
November 10th 2009



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok, I made it half way through and it seemed to becwritten really well, but I can't finish ;) this is an awesome album though.

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

BigHans
November 10th 2009



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Its funny, when I'm writing I always feel like its too short, then when I submit I can see that its borderline long winded . I could talk about this album for days however.

Douchebag
November 10th 2009



3624 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I only love the first two albums, but yeah this album blows minds!

shindip
November 10th 2009



3536 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ive only heard a few songs from this, but they are all pretty awesome

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 19th 2010



19919 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, i listen to this album more than their debut but they're both great albums!

BigHans
March 19th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah its a beast isnt it? Its quite unfortunate that SubHuman Race followed this.

ReturnToRock
March 19th 2010



3448 Comments


"THEY CALLED US PROBLEM CHILD, WE SPEND OUR LIVES ON TRIAL, WE WALK AN ENDLESS MILE..."

Never could get into this album, but good review anyway. Pos'd despite the plentiful Poison dissing.

BigHans
March 19th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love Poison, seen them live about 4 times (I live in the Midwest, its pretty much a mecca for hair metal acts to play fairs and shit up here). I just dont like Native Tongue, except for 'Theatre of the Soul" which is one of their best songs ever.

ReturnToRock
March 19th 2010



3448 Comments


And Stand.

But why the CC Deville hate?

BigHans
March 19th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I never thought he was a good guitar player, and hes kind of a self parody. He had a nice penchant for hooks though, I'll give him that. I dont know, I guess he always kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 20th 2010



19919 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like Poison's first two albums but Flesh & Blood is probably my favourite Poison album, but after that most of their albums pretty much sucked in my opinion.

BigHans
August 30th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I fyou don't like this album you don't like music

KILL
August 30th 2010



70418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

rules

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

BigHans
August 30th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

hard

Terrifyer
August 30th 2010



3403 Comments


their first album is great havent heard this one

KILL
August 30th 2010



70418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

wtf i used to have this rated whats going on here

BigHans
August 30th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fade, this is alot more METAL than the debut. They sound nothing alike.

KILL
August 30th 2010



70418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yea this is better

random
September 30th 2010



2256 Comments


Love this.



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