The late 80's saw a flourishing of glam and hair metal. For better or worse, a number of sissy acts who pretended to use electric guitars came into prominence and forever dirtied the world of metal. Acts like Poison, Motley Crue, and Slaughter capitalized on songs of hedonism and lasciviousness. And they did it all with pretty boy hair, and sometimes even pretty girl makeup. But while glam or hair metal was certainly very popular in its time (before grunge really took over), too often bands were mistakenly dumped in the glam metal category. Skid Row was one such band.
Sure, their first release had some sappy metal ballads, and the lead singer had a flowing blonde locks and almost feminine good looks. But looking past the surface, one can see that Skid Row was much more metal and very little glam. Their final release with Sebastian Bach as front man, "Subhuman Race" epitomizes this. A gritty, gutsy album from the very beginning, this is metal. No glam allowed.
This is the kind of album that we needed in the mid 90's. Sadly, too many overlooked it, still thinking of them as a hair band. Thick, heavy guitars fill the album. Even the ballads are dark and brooding. Borrowing the best aspects of grunge, and melding them with great guitar solos, some thrash aspects, and good, old fashioned American metal, Skid Row created one of the best heavy metal albums of the past decade. No pretenses, no posturing. Sebastian has never sounded better. Growling when he needs to, wailing at the right times, and holding notes like few other metal vocalists ever could, he just does a great job on this album. The rest of the band pulls through as well. The rhythm section backs up the meaty guitars, providing a thick, chugging backdrop to the songs.
Tracks to catch:"Eileen" is a great ballad that ends with a nut-busting twist. Not your mom's ballad. "Beat Yourself Blind" is full of guttural growls and a grooving guitar line. "Bonehead" and "Subhuman Race" both crank things up a notch, borrowing from the speed and aggression of good old thrash metal. "Iron Will" wraps the album up kicking and screaming, not content to end quietly. But the truth is, there isn't a single bad track on this sucker.