After a number one with ‘Slave To The Grind’, Skid Row released this exceptional third effort but it only reached 35 in the US Billboard charts.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Skid Row (USA)
ALBUM: Subhuman Race
SERIAL: CD 82730
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Sebastian Bach – vocals * Dave Sabo – guitars * Scotti Hill – guitars * Rachel Bolan – bass * Rob Affuso – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 My Enemy * 02 Firesign * 03 Bonehead * 04 Beat Yourself Blind * 05 Eileen * 06 Remains To Be Seen * 07 Subhuman Race * 08 Frozen * 09 Into Another * 10 Face Against My Soul * 11 Medicine Jar * 12 Breakin’ Down * 13 Iron Will
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Skid Row’s progression from their 1989 debut to ‘Subhuman Race’ showed a maturing act who were sadly struck down at their musical peak. With each release heavier than the last, this and 1991’s ‘Slave To The Grind’ dispelling thoughts that Skid Row were another pretty boy hard rock act. With grunge and alternative rock overtaking the public consciousness in the interim period between albums Skid Row found themselves on the outside looking in just four years.
After a number one album in ‘Slave To The Grind’, Skid Row released this exceptional third effort but it only reached 35 in the US Billboard charts, revealing what a fickle audience existed in the first place. The band had not been affected by the tepid music revolution around them, and along with Motley Crue‘s 1994 self titled recording this is one of the only essential hard rock releases of the mid 90’s. It wasn’t as hard as it looked as every other one-time similar band had split or sold out.
Back in 1995 one had to plead with record store employees to order a copy of this, whereas ‘Slave To The Grind’ had been littered in the cut out bins. Again proof of how underground hard rock had become, when realistically this was a heavier, more relevant statement than the Pearl Jam‘s and Soundgarden‘s. ‘My Enemy’ is indeed similar to Motley Crue circa 1994, monstrously grinding riffs similar to the Crue’s ‘Hooligans Holiday’ or ‘Power To The Music’.
Skid Row had the ability to update their sound without conforming to mid 90’s norms, ‘Firesign’ containing the melody of the debut, only excessively more riff orientated. The punk and metal attitude that dominated ‘Slave To The Grind’ is evident during the almost thrash ‘Bonehead’ which leaves Megadeth or Metallica in the dust for the era. ‘Beat Yourself Blind’ copies Iron Maiden‘s ‘Wrathchild’ riff during the intro, the latter downtuned aggressive sections an example of how metal Skid Row indeed were, Bach in the best form of his career.
‘Eileen’ is a slight ballad, ‘Remains To Be Seen’ leaning towards Gun’s N’ Roses, while the title track is another metal tear up. ‘Into Another’ has 1990 written all over its melodic ventures, ‘Face Against My Soul’ and ‘Medicine Jar’ both timeless hard rock that would do any decade proud. The only flaw is the pre modern rock of ‘Breakin Down’, which Train might have been influenced by. The thirteen track workout at least concludes on a positive note, ‘Ironwill’ a fiery exercise that sadly would be the swansong of the original lineup.
The ensuing tour was a success, unlike the album stateside, Skid Row more popular in England and Japan than their confused homeland which promised future activity overseas. Bach however left the band in 1998 after reported animosity with Bolan and to this day he has yet to return, a shock given the endless reunions of so many splintered bands from the 80’s.
The current lineup bears little resemblance to the famed version, with only one album since, 2002’s ‘Thickskin’, which was a pale imitation of Bach era. With the Bach split so ended the opportunity to follow up a quality album which has stood the test of time well over the last decade. For those who consider the mid 90’s a total washout, ‘Subhuman Race’ happily confirms this wasn’t the case.
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