Sebastian Bach really needs to let go of the whole “former singer for Skid Row” tag. The fact is, on an artistic level, his solo material has been far superior to anything his former band mates have been able to turn out and the man is still able to put on a great show. Even this latest album, the weakest of his three solo records to date, still has a lot more going for it than a record like Revolutions Per Minute.
Give ‘Em Hell, sonically, sounds fantastic. This is Bach‘s second album working with Bob Marlette at the console and the man knows how to produce a record. Everything is clear and crisp with enough bottom end to get the listener grooving. The problems with this album lie mostly in the songwriting. While modern hard rock (see: Three Days Grace, Seether, etc.) is a direction that was hinted at on Sebastian‘s first two albums, there was a lot more going on than that, with there being everything from old school hard rock to traditional heavy metal to glam metal and beyond. This time out, those rock radio clichés have become a little more prevalent: downtuned, simplistic riffs, silly, dumb breakdowns, phoney, emotional pseudo-balladry, it’s all here, and there’s not as much to offset it.
There are two things that drag the album up from that muck. The first is Sebastian himself. Say what you will about the man’s hobbies, the fact remains that he has a great voice. Since way back in his Kid Wikkid ((Kid Wikkid was Sebastian‘s band in his home town of Peterborough, Ontario. They recorded one song for the Maple Metal compilation on Viper records in 1985. )) and Madam X ((Madam X never recorded any material with Sebastian, but there are scattered bootleg videos of his performances with the Detroit band floating around out there.)) days, he’s never been shy or reserved when it’s come to, if you’ll excuse the phrase, rockin’ the fuck out! All these years later he still sounds incredible and there are moments on this record where he almost sounds like it’s ’89 and he’s still bringing Skid Row kicking and screaming onto the world stage. So because this is a Sebastian Bach record complete with classy, steaming vocal work, it’s already infinitely better than the Creeds of the world.
The second part of why this record is still worth your time lies in the lead guitar work. Steve Stevens of Billy Idol‘s band was responsible for a lot of the lead work on this album. In case you weren’t aware, the dude has some serious chops. There are some solos on this album that just smoke: solos that make weaker songs sound a thousand times better. It’s really too bad that Steve only came in to do the album, because he would have been a huge kick in the ass to Sebastian‘s already high caliber live presentation.
Give ‘Em Hell has enough legitimately great material to have made a great EP. Half the album is up to the same caliber as Kicking & Screaming was, which is damn high. The rest is really disposable. Not even that bad, just not up to Sebastian‘s usual quality threshold. Most importantly though, it’s still a better record that anything Skid Row has done without him. That’s a victory in my book!