Review Summary: Rising above the tide, for a second anyway
Skid Row was a huge band in the late 80s and early 90s. After their successful self-titled debut album, which infused a hard rock style with the by then dying glam metal scene, Skid Row wisely decided to change their style. The hair metal scene had died a long and painful death, and the only way for any 80s band to survive was to adapt to the changing scene. Skid Row went metal.
Slave to the Grind is an important album not just for the band, but it’s one of the last extremely successful metal albums to hit the mainstream during that time period before grunge took full control of the rock scene. The album debuted at number one on the billboard 200, and not only is the music heavier but the lyrics are much more complex and serious.
The opening two tracks are the best heavy tracks on the album. ‘Monkey Business’ starts off with a dummy, playing an acoustic guitar intro, before the song picks up pace and attacks the listener. The opener was the biggest hit from this album, rightfully so with a great chorus and a brilliant vocal performance by lead singer Sebastian Bach. The lyrics are humorous but still very aggressive, despite that band still seems to be having a good time here. ‘Slave to the Grind’ is the heaviest song on the album, and what a song! Bach gives one of his best performances here; the lyrics also focus on corruption and oppression, a major theme for the whole album. The title track also has a good and very fast solo.
‘Riot Act’ and ‘Get the F*ck Out’ are two good short rockers. The former starts off with a distorted guitar before blasting into a groovy beat. The choruses are both highlights, but in both cases the lyrics are nothing more than average insults with political overtones. ‘Mudkicker’ and ‘The Threat’ are great rockers, with good solos and memorable choruses. The lyrics are not bad, but they are very similar in nature. One of the main problems with this album is that even though individually all the heavier tracks are good, together they can be a pretty repetitive and dull sitting.
‘Quicksand Jesus’, ‘In a Darkened Room’ and ‘Wasted Time’ are the ballads of the album, and they are all superb songs. The former contains probably the best vocal performance by Bach, as he gives a really emotional and diverse performance. The lyrics deal with faith and religion. ‘In a Darkened Room’ has a great riff/solo which plays throughout the song, besides some heartfelt lyrics. ‘Wasted Time’ closes the album, starting off with an atmospheric and melancholic electric guitar intro before Bach starts singing about his old friend Steven Adler. The song picks up intensity for the chorus and continues increasing in stature ‘til the climax of the song and album.
Skid Row released another album after this, the un-even Subhuman Race before Bach left the band. Since then Bach has released a couple of individual albums, similar in style to Slave to the Grind, and the rest of the band regrouped and released a couple of more Skid Row albums with a different singer. Despite all that, there isn’t much worth listening to post Subhuman Race, for any of the band members.