By Carl Begai
Some folks might remember Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil’s debut solo album from 1993, Exposed, put together after he ditched the band. It was a scorcher featuring Neil backed by the likes of Phil Soussan (ex-Ozzy Osbourne), Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) and Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) as songwriters and / or players, pretty much stomping on everything the Crüe did following Dr. Feelgood (which still holds true to this day). Former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach’s new solo record, Give ‘Em Hell, is similar in that he’s surrounded himself with greatness and coughed up music that stands at least toe-to-toe with his previous outing Kicking & Screaming, if not crushing it entirely. Time will tell.
Fact is a lot of people thought Bach was screwed after firing guitarist Nick Sterling, one of the main songwriters on Kicking & Screaming. Instead, he and his backbone – producer Bob Marlette and drummer Bobby Jarzombeck – went into the studio all guns and speed dial blazing, calling on Duff McKagan (ex-Guns N’ Roses / bass), Steve Stevens (guitars) and John 5 (Rob Zombie / guitars) to join the party. As a result, Give ‘Em Hell is ballsier, more aggressive and much darker than Kicking & Screaming, with more than a few eyebrow-raising moments thrown in to induce shit-eating grins amongst the diehard fans.
You’re not going to find anything as over-the-top and raging as ‘Slave To The Grind’ on Give ‘Em Hell, but there’s no shortage of fireworks. Opening track ‘Hell Inside My Head’ is distinctly Baz and perfect for the jump start, but it’s the Subhuman Race-era Skid Row-ish tracks ‘Harmony’ and ‘All My Friends Are Dead’ (the demented sister of ‘Eileen’) that set the tone for the album. There are wonderfully crushing riffs all over the record – ‘Disengaged’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Gun To A Knife Fight’, ‘Taking Back Tomorrow’, and ‘Dominator’ – and Bach is still belting out the screams interspersed with his often overlooked killer mid-range voice. Gotta say, though, he may have pushed the envelope a little too high (no pun intended) on ‘Push Away’, which has some stupid high vocals that will likely be impossible to pull off live. The track is also surprisingly reminiscent of the 2005 Frameshift album, An Absence Of Empathy.
It’s fair to say nobody was expecting Bach to include a cover of April Wine’s ‘Rock N’ Roll Is Vicious Game’ – a tip of the hat to his Canadian roots, perhaps? – which does kinda stick out like a sore thumb, but if Bret Michaels can play the Country Music Has Its Thorn game so can Baz. And he does a fine job of it.
With the exception of the closing track ‘Forget You’, which feels like an afterthought, Give ‘Em Hell is a solid package. It doesn’t sound dated in spite of Bach’s high-powered hair-raised ’80s roots, it’s got groove and hook and attitude, and most importantly Bach is (still) not trying to cash in on past glories.
Folks that are waiting for the hellmouth to fall are going to be disappointed. The fans have something to look forward to in a big way.
The tracklist is as follows:
‘Hell Inside My Head’
‘All My Friends Are Dead’
‘Gun To A Knife Fight’
‘Rock N Roll Is A Vicious Game’
‘Taking Back Tomorrow’
The official release date for Give ‘Em Hell is April 22nd. Go to this location for updates.