To begin with, I find it essential to mention that it`s the first Skid Row album in 16 years, which is totally mind blowing. And if we take a rapid look at even earlier times, we can easily witness, how, after the band had parted ways with Sebastian Bach, his voice’s figural ghost was haunting the band all this time, ’cause lets face the truth – the range and that raspy expressiveness of Bach’s vocals, enforced by his magnetic charisma made him absolutely irreplaceable for the band. I mean, all other voices that happened to be in Skid Row were fine, but it was still pretty much not the same, and the further it went, the less Skid Row sounded like the original 80’s ones…
And here lets go with a bit of a fairy tale: so, three years after Skid Row had released their latest album at that time, “Revolutions Per Minute”, in 2009 a warrior-spirited Swedish boy Erik Grönwall performed an acoustic version of Skid Row‘s iconic “18 and Life” on the “Idol 2009 Show”, and performed absolutely marvelously. And here’s the happy ending, right away: Skid Row`s new album “The Gang’s All Here” is where this boy debuts as their official vocalist. I am genuinely happy, and not only because Universe`s justice worked well for Erik Grönwall, who has also proved his vocal skills in his previous glam metal band H.E.A.T and numerous fantastic acoustic performances. But also because since Bach’s departure in 1996 Skid Row – for the first time ever! – got that close to their musical roots. Besides Eric the current Skid Row are “classic era” string gang Dave Sabo, Scotti Hill (both – guitars) and Rachel Bolan (bass) together with drummer Rob Hammersmith, who’s relatively a newbie as he’s been in the band “only” since 2010.
So, the opening song is massively groovy “Hell or High Water”, fully rebellious both – musically and lyrically, which is, let`s say, Skid Row in a nutshell, thus it makes a perfect introduction for the album, with a mind-blowing tornado-like swirling guitar solo. The album gains momentum rapidly with a title song “The Gang’s All Here” that starts with a fat bass and goes on with a faster tempo, catchy tune and a chorus that is super-easy to sing along, which is, surely, a plus for the live shows. Also, in this song we come across with our good old friend “tricky little Vicky”, whom we first heard of in Skid Row‘s song “Rattlesnake Shake” back in the `89, long time no see.
We go on speeding up with an agressive statement-song “Not Dead Yet”. Gotta say that “Slave to the Grind” vides are felt effortlessly here, and that`s so awesome. The “undead” topic is symbolic for the album, and will be repeated further. In “Time Bomb” guys played with the clock theme pretty vividly, turning this song into the grooviest one on the album. Then comes another “undead” song – “Resurrected”, very optimistic and motivating. Guys sing the line “we’re resurrected” so cheerfully altogether, and you can’t help recalling their famous collective “we are the youth gone wild” line and smiling, because, you know, it truly feels like the gang’s really all here now, after several decades.
“Nowhere Fast” has a riddling intro, which makes it seem like the song is about to accelerate any second, and you don`t really know how fast it will go, but soon you get hooked by the volatile dynamic and gloomiest atmosphere. In the next song, “When The Lights Come On”, the rhythm section, together with the Eric’s playful laughter, set up a tune for the rollicking party and an amusing story. And “Tear It Down” got me confused, because it, at first, harshly resembled with Hinder‘s “Up All Night”, and I couldn’t get rid of this thought for a while.
The ballad I was dying to hear was found closer to the end of the album and, what can I say: “October Song” is taking the most rightful place among Skid Row‘s most killer ballads like “In a Darkened Room” and “Wasted Time”. It’s captivating waltzing three quarters together with the thoughtful sadness of the lyrics will drive you to an outspoken doom, and there guitar solos with a twist of something classical will suppress you completely. And, moreover – you will like it. This is pure catharic awesomeness.
The closing, 10th, song of a 41 minute long album is “World on Fire”, and, you know, covering up the danger of not having a new tomorrow for a nowadays humanity is something that I want to thank Skid Row for, because this is a massive wake up call that people have to hear, before it is too late. So it is a glorious fullstop for the album.
While, I hope that “The Gang`s All Here” in general is only a coma, and Skid Row will, from now on, keep on delighting us with their awesome new material straight outta 80’s.