The SKID ROW clan knows as well as anyone trying to maintain a presence under adverse conditions what a grinding uphill battle feels like. As ACCEPT initially weathered the scorn of longtimers for putting Mark Tornillo front and center in the stead of the immortal Udo Dirkschneider, they've somehow managed to win over more people than expected. It's the strength of their last two albums and Tornillo's convictions that have done the trick.
SKID ROW minus Sebastian Bach, however has been a much tougher sell to a jaded nation of rock fans who've given Johnny Solinger undeserved rafts of shit for being in a spot where nostalgia rules and nothing else. It's why Blaze Bayley and Tim "Ripper" Owens were universally tomahawked by IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST fans until they were ousted once they icons they'd briefly replaced came back home.
Never say never, yet the likelihood of Sebastian Bach and the core engine components of SKID ROW reuniting seems like a pipe dream made for Saturday nights spent in sleeping bags by campfires with old schoolers balling to "I Will Remember You" like the Eighties never died.
And yet the Eighties did die, along with SKID ROW as most fans remember them despite leaving behind three monster albums including "Slave to the Grind" and the underappreciated "Subhuman Race". Conditions being what they were, it's amazing the raw and brackish "Subhuman Race" ever saw the light of day, despite the poor sales reception it received. Sebastian Bach, Rachel Bolan, Dave "Snake" Sabo, Rob Affuso and Scotti Hill may never share the same stage together, and for an overwhelming number of naysayers, that's the only acceptable lineup they'll line up to see.
Too bad, because Johnny Solinger has done a noble job in SKID ROW. Yeah, he has a tendency to mirror Bach on more than a few occasions. He still has to field the band's hairball heaven classics when the band plays live, and yet Solinger on SKID ROW's recent recorded output has thrown in his own spit-laden repertoire so you know he's an entirely different singer and not a mere replicate.
Sabo, Bolan and Hill may take extensive breaks before kicking SKID ROW back into action, but when they come back, they always give it their all. The Solinger-led "Thickskin" and "Revolutions Per Minute" were solid albums, though hardly well-received by the fans. Yet no one will take away SKID ROW's unshakable desire to keep in motion.
This year with the addition of new drummer Rob Hammersmith, they begin the first of a reported series of releases, the EP "United World Rebellion Chapter One". It's actually a shrewd move by SKID ROW to invest only five songs into this modern metallic proving ground. If their new EP tanks, they'll have a proper gauge on where they stand in today's market, one that used to take them and their ilk straight to the platinum tiers of Billboard. And if "United World Rebellion Chapter One" does indeed tank, it won't be because SKID ROW didn't give it a good go.
A mostly-muscular set of tracks will greet the open-minded as SKID ROW consults "Slave to the Grind" and the tougher moments of the self-titled debut here. Each of the songs on "United World Rebellion Chapter One" would've added to the legacy of the Bach era had they been germinated back in the day. That being said, the punch-out effect of four of the five songs here should be able to win over those who can let bygones be bygones and let Johnny Solinger coax and wail along to a pretty heavy dose of throwback hard rock.
"Kings of Demolition" would've been a mega hit in 1989 as would the laidback ballad "This Is Killing Me". The songwriting in SKID ROW, as ever, remains tight and addictive. If anyone deserved their runaway success in the Eighties, it was these guys. "Kings of Demolition" rolls out an instant swagger complete with wicked riffs and a killer shred-solo gangbang by "Snake" Sabo and Scotti Hill. Right afterwards, "Let's Go" picks up the pace and while not as fast as the title track from "Subhuman Race", there's a noticeable fang to the former that shows SKID ROW has plenty of turbo in their tanks. Tack on another beauteous dual solo shot from Sabo and Hill.
"This Is Killing Me" sounds like every power metal jam from yesteryear, the ones that tread into country territory without the slide guitar accouterments, and yet this one doesn't play by the old rules of existing merely to provoke unsnapped denim. This one cuts deeper with talks of abiding past failures in relationships (in terms of those lying both internally and externally within the band) and making the choice to shrug off negativity. Just as SKID ROW continues to do as a unit, knowing the wrath they'll continue to face from a venomous legion of Bach supporters.
"Get Up" and "Stitches" likewise hijack a few standard procedures from SKID ROW's playbook with maybe a sneeze of the jagged angst from "Subhuman Race" lingering within "Stitches". At the end of twenty minutes, "United World Rebellion Chapter One" succeeds admirably based on its own merits. It sounds like classic SKID ROW with a determined resolve to stay true to themselves. So what if Sebastian Bach isn't on the team anymore? That's been ages ago. Likewise ages ago, nobody gave Steve Young a prayer in succeeding Joe Montana.