Auditory Assault

“I think that was the first time I really saw Lars being completely authentic.”
— Metallica front man James Hetfield talking about Ulrich’s encounter with Dave Mustaine during a session recorder for “Some Kind of Monster.”

James, the fans are still waiting for him to be authentic.

Intro …

This week’s column was crafted while listening to Skid Row’s “Thickskin” and From First to Last’s “dear diary, my teen angst has a bodycount” (I love that album title).

So, speaking of Skid Row, I’ve been listening to “Thickskin” a lot lately, and I recommend you do the same. Is it the Skid Row we all remember and love? Well, yes and no. The music is pretty much the same, albeit updated at times; the vocals are the same and different at the same time. Much like the new lead singer of Drowning Pool sometimes sounding almost exactly like Dave Williams, Johnny Solinger is his own vocalist, yet sometimes manages to sound almost like Sebastian Bach.

And now for a little history lesson

Skid Row had a pretty impressive self-titled debut in 1989 (I can’t believe that was over 15 years ago). The band’s follow-up, 1992’s “Slave to the Grind” sold extremely well upon release. The album was much more metal than its hard-rock predecessor. The group released a nice EP of covers a year later (in 92), then continued to tour its ass off.

In 1995 the group continued it’s trend leaning towards an even heavier sound (“Subhuman Race”) … the heaviness was due in part, I believe, to world touring with Pantera (a band that also got heavier with each release). By this time there was a lot of bitching between Bach and the rest of the band. The group toured the album and then sort of fell off the face of the planet (and fired Bach at some point). Bach released a solo album and there was a live release in Japan.

In 98 a greatest hits album came out, but it was compiled by Rachel Bolan (bass), and fans we perturbed he left a couple of Bach tracks out of the mix (like “Wasted Time”). I was particularly pissed “Beggar’s Day” wasn’t included on the collection — the song was pretty popular, but only available on “censored” copies of “Slave” (the album used it as a replacement track on tapes and disc for “Get the Fuck Out”).

The band finally picked up a new vocalist and released “Thick Skin” in 2003 on its own Skid Row Records label.

Which brings us to today

“Thickskin” is full of great songs, from the catchy “Ghost” (probably my favorite off the album), to “Born a Beggar” (a typical Skid song in the vein of the first album; I absolutely LOVE the bridge) and “Swallow Me (the real you).” On the heavier side of things, “Lamb” and “New Generation” are pretty notable.

For the most part, the rest of the tracks are solid. The only one I really don’t care for is the “Mouth of Voodoo” song, mostly because it just seems completely out of place on the album, doesn’t really “fit” with the rest of the album and sounds like the band is trying too hard to do something that doesn’t quite work.

The band also gave a little punk-twist to it’s biggest hit, “I Remember You” (called “i remember you two”). When I first picked the disc up, I hated this song. It sounded too much like the band was just trying to shit on its past or prove a point. Over time (in retrospect?) I don’t really think this is the case. It a fun track that, if anything, is connecting the Skid Row of the new millennium with the Skid Row of 89.

What I can’t understand is that this album has been all but ignored.

I look at this release the same way I see the Velvet Revolver album. When “Contraband” came out, I thought it was a hell of an album … a release that really captured the “rock/metal” feel of the late 80s early 90s but still had a little updated feel. If nothing else, I loved it from a nostalgic standpoint.

The Skid Row disc didn’t get nearly the play as “Contraband.” It’s got that nice instrumental feel from the same time period, but the songs are more catchy and … well … in my opinion, better.

On one hand, you have Skid Row soldiering on with a new lead singer, making the same type of music. On the other, you have (essentially) the GnR lineup fronted by Scott Weiland. The only differences: Weiland was a better know front man sliding into the empty spot; VR is on a big label with the marketing machine behind them while Skid Row is out there struggling; and Skid Row has the “stigma” of the same name thus appearing to be “an older band” or listeners having expectations given the banner the group performs under.

I brought this up on the staff boards a while back, but now I’m wondering what you have to say. Drop me a line and let me know.

Until then, since I got rid of my album list feature, I’ll pick an album of the week or something to that effect. This week’s pick? Skid Row’s “Thickskin.” Go check it out.

In brief …

..:..Festival line-up revealed..:.. Most of the acts for this year’s New England Metal And Hardcore Festival have announced. Now, I’m not going to list them all here or go into great detail, but I’ll pick out some of the notables (for a full list and more information on the event, check here). Friday looks like the best day, featuring Hatebreed, Obituary, Unearth, All That Remains, As I Lay Dying and Remembering Never (a band that made my “best of 2004” list), along with a slew of others. Other good bands showing up throughout the weekend include Chimaira, Blood Has Been Shed, Darkest Hour, Stemm, King Diamond (!!!), Nile, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Pro-Pain. What I can’t figure out is how Nightwish made it on the bill (in fact, the group was the first announced!), definitely a case of one of these things is not like the other. Even though this show is in my back yard, I’ve never gone to one (sort of a case of too much of a good thing isn’t good anymore). Plus, I usually like the bands spread out throughout the weekend, but don’t want to go to more than one day. The festival is set to be held Friday through Sunday, April 22 to 24, at The Palladium in Worcester.

..:..Anthrax reuniting for Ozzfest?..:.. I really don’t want to give fuel to this rumor, but there’s talk going around that Sharon Osbourne said the band could play the 10th anniversary of Ozzfest this year if the classic lineup got back together. Ugh! The posting first showed up at a S.O.D./M.O.D. fansite, but Blabbermouth has since picked up the story (go read it just to see how confusing the actual post is). At any rate, I only mention this to point out that I feel the current lineup is not only the band’s strongest, but it’s best. Sure, Anthrax was a classic thrash band, but it’s the later albums (“Sound of White Noise,” “Stomp 442,” “We’ve Come For You All”) that really stand up (well, it’s too soon to say for “We’ve Come…” but still). I’d be more psyched to catch Anthrax now on Ozzfest this year (note: this will be my last year going to Ozzfest).

..:..Overcooked Lamb..:.. I know I mentioned this a while ago … but there’s some updated information: Lamb of God’s initial album, under the banner Burn the Priest, will finally see re-release in March. The new version will have new liner notes from the album’s producer and is being remixed and remastered by Colin Richardson (he’s worked with Machine Head and Chimaira). I’m looking forward to this just to hear the remaster … Burn the Priest isn’t that hard to find (try Amazon) and is worth picking up, especially if you’re a fan of Lamb of God now (one of the best metal bands on the scene in my opinion).

..:..Rage hits the road..:.. Not the band Rage… the latest Road Rage tour. This spring’s tour features 3 Inches of Blood, Still Remains Trivium and The Agony Scene. The show almost sounds impressive enough on the strength of Still Remains, but the line-up doesn’t seem nearly as strong as it did the past few times. At any rate, the dates are still be sorted out at the moment, but you can get some information here.

..:..A blast from the past..:.. It appears Tom Keifer, he of Cinderella fame, will start putting the finishing touches on his solo album in the next few weeks. Speaking of Keifer, his band is part of the 2005 incarnation of the Rock Never Stops Tour, which also features Quiet Riot, Firehouse (Ha!) and Ratt. Only a few dates have been confirmed at the moment so you’ll most probably have to wait to find out if the tour is headed your way. Ahhh …. pseudo-metal from the 80s …. Everyone should have a soft spot in their hearts for that.

Mix of the moment…

Here’s a little mix I put together featuring the song’s I’ve been listening to a lot lately (or songs I wish I’d be listening to more). Check one, some or all of them out … who knows, you might discover something you like or remember something you used to …

From First to Last: “Secrets Don’t Make Friends” (off “dear diary, my teen angst has a body count”)
Thursday: “Ian Curtis” (off “Waiting”)
Obituary: “Threatening Skies” (off “Back From the Dead”)
Glassjaw: “Pink Roses” (off “Worship and Tribute”)
Into Eternity: “Absolution of the Soul” (off “Dead or Dreaming”)
Shadows Fall: “Stillness” (off “The War Within”)
Disincarnate: “Stench of Paradise Burning” (off “Dreams of the Carrion Kind”)
Skid Row: “Ghost” (off “Thick Skin”)
All that Remains: “Deepest Gray” (off “This Darkened Heart”)
From First to Last: “Emily” (off “dear diary, my teen angst has a body count”)

In closing…

Well, file this under “things to pick up for me…” This worked so well last time when I asked for the Frisbee autographed by all the members of Pantera … well, except someone STOLE that … buy it for me people, don’t steal it!

Anyway, I usually don’t care for Marilyn Manson … well, I used to be a fan, then lost interest after the “Antichrist” disc, though this recent piece by Inside Pulse’s own Michael Chadwick has me wanting to go pick up some Manson again. So it’s no secret that the shock-rocker is also somewhat of an artist (though I think Rob Zombie is much better), his art has never really done anything for me. Except for this piece, titled “Hitler Takes a Nap.” Seriously, I’d buy this if it wasn’t $10,000 … but I’d accept it as a gift.

And that’s that. As always, drop me a line. Until next time, I’ll be here at Inside Pulse making sure no metal news falls through the cracks.

Take it easy…

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