No matter how many years go by, how many reality TV shows he appears on, or how many times he defends Axl Rose, Sebastian Bach will always be the voice of Skid Row. It may be 15 years since he was part of that band and he has even tried to distance himself from that era. Despite these attempts it is clear on his new album Kicking & Screaming that this kind of music is what he does best.
This is not Bach copying his work of old, but being given the creative freedom to fine tune the sound he wants to make. It has a very distinct hard rock sound that he is famous for, but thanks to chugging riff-heavy tracks like “One Good Reason” and “Lost In The Light” with their feisty lyrics it becomes immediately more refreshed.
Women of a certain age will remember Bach in his golden mane late ’80s early ’90s glory. I don’t mean old women, just women who are old enough. Oh god. Erm, women who are still young, very young, who were also young when Bach was really famous. I’m sweating. We all remember and know Sebastian Bach. His exceptional voice sounds healthier than it has in a long time. Just listen to the stunning “Dream Forever,” a power ballad with Bach’s almost soulful and understated delivery and it’s like the late ’90s never happened, as if he stepped in from his prime.
The biggest surprise on this album is the addition of ridiculously talented young guitarist (I’m sure he will get sick of being referred to as that, but tough) Nick Sterling. Much like Ozzy and his young guitarists, Bach and Sterling make a very good partnership. Sterling is clearly a confident and proficient guitarist who at only 21 already has many years’ experience of playing live and is a talented songwriter to boot. He wrote “Dance On Your Grave” – a hard rock song perfect for Bach’s voice – and the astoundingly good ballad “I’m Alive.” His solos and guitar work on this album are astonishing.
Producer Bob Marlette really brings out an energy in the band that springs out from the speakers from the crunching opening riff of “Kicking & Screaming.” It is this energy, which, despite not all the songs being of a great standard, whisks the album along and before you know it you’ve headbanged your way through the entire album.