Sebastian Bach - Give 'Em Hell (Universal)

A game of two halves, Brian...
Release Date: 
18 Apr 2014 (All day)

Look, I know that was all nearly a quarter a century ago, and I know artists have to live, and breathe, and EVOLVE an’ all those shenanigans, but I honestly hoped that we might be gettin' somethin’ that slavishly ground out a tribute to the glory dayz of Bas on Give ‘Em Hell, y’unnerstan'?

As it is, I guess we should give thanks and PRAISE the fact that the voice is still there. In fact, I’d go so far as to say Sebastian Bach ain’t never sounded this good this century, and possibly not since that cherished Slave to the Grind elpee I alluded to up there in that previous paragraph. It’s just that, well, in the first half of this album at least, there just ain’t too much raisin’ the temperature levels under the ol’ collar here, material wise, and that’s a shame.

The likes of Push Away, not withstandin’ a great wailin’ and screamin’ performance from our hero, just ain’t good enough song wise to get old Skid Row fans like me juiced up, and although the man seems invested emotionally in the material – a great singer will always con you he LOVES what he’s batterin’ on about – there’s a lot of smoke here, a few mirrors too, but not enough precious substance to warrant too much investigating.

Every song seems to want to get GRUNGY and downbeat on you when what we really want is a bit o’ the light n’shade that made the 'Row such a captivatin’ aural treat back in the day. And the addition of superstar chums to the recordin’ process doesn’t seem to have helped matters. Rob Zombie/Marilyn Manson side dude John 5 especially makes things all a bit too modern for this lil’ Rock Soldier, although Steve Stevens – yep – Billy Idol’s diminutive sidekick – does do a little bit of a shred dance every now and then which cheers up the mood no end, especially, I think, on the big ballad Had Enough, which is comfortably the album’s best track. No-one, make that NO ONE, sings a metal ballad like Bach, and this slow-burnin’ epic is one o’ the man’s best. 

It’s after Had Enough rides into the sunset that the unvarnished TRUTH hits ya – The first half of the album is all about Bas tryin’ to prove how ‘relevant’ he is, while the second half is ‘Bas at home’, cuttin’ a rug with the music he loves to listen to and play. Hence Gun to a Knife Fight is pure eighties metal, um, nirvana whilst the rootin’ tootin’ Rock n’Roll is a Vicious Game is a rootsy, countrified pearler of a track that Richie Kotzen-era Poison might have had a stab at. And then? The suitably-titled Taking Back Tomorrow rides in on a riff that, yes, would have graced the Slave to the Grind album with it’s headbangin’ presence. This is what we want!

A game of two halves then, with part two definitely nixin’ part one, but is it doin’ enough of a job to convince me to try an’ convince YOU of this albums worth? Just about. And who knows? Maybe those first half dozen songs will grow on me in time? Maybe. But if you love Bas you’ll still want to buy this I guess, and, on reflection, he doesn’t let you down on Give ‘Em Hell