Sebastian Bach | Angel Down (Get Off My Bach Productions/MRV/Caroline/Emi)

cd_sebastian.jpgNo question, fans of Skid Row or any other Bach endeavor are sure to be pumping their fists once Angel Down comes roaring from their stereo speakers.

 

"Rolling down the avenue/ I got my fist in the air/ Checkin’ out of the rat race/ And I really don’t care!" These lyrics from Sebastian Bach’s new single, "(Love Is) A Bitchslap," accurately describe the theme and feel behind his latest solo album, Angel Down.

First Impressions

It looks good. When you see Angel Down on the shelves, the cover art will surely grab your attention. That’s because it’s an original painting by Bach’s late father, David Bierk, titled "David Watching." He also designed Skid Row’s 1991 album cover for Slave to the Grind.

As you press "play," the 14-track hard-rock ambush begins with a quiet, tranquil intro that suddenly kicks into the noisy title track. Right off the bat you’re hit by a heavy, chunking guitar riff with Bach screaming so loudly that you can easily picture his hair flailing around as he head-bangs, energizing a crowded arena.

The second track, "You Don’t Understand," is one of the easier songs to digest with a catchy guitar riff and mid-range vocals. But this is just the calm before the scream-fest storm ahead. But before we go any further, there’s an interesting reason Angel Down has attracted some media buzz from the rock world…

Bach Brought in Who to Help Release a Record?

It’s true. Bach brought in the man whose face and reputation coincides with the phrase, "I wouldn’t say soon is the word…" W. Axl Rose. Here’s the back story as to how and why Rose was called into the studio.

Bach has enthusiastically talked about how Rose let him contribute vocals on a song titled "Sorry," which is supposedly going to appear on Guns N’ Roses’ ever-elusive album, Chinese Democracy. Months later, and after his band toured with Guns N’ Roses, Bach posed the question via text message to Rose: "When you gonna help me make my record?" Rose surprisingly responded: "When? Where? What time? Where is the studio? What time do you want me there?"

Before Angel Down, the only studio recordings heard from Rose have come in the forms of leaked demos and the forgotten "Oh My God" single on the End of Days soundtrack. That’s why it’s quite shocking to some that Rose would make a recording appearance in this fashion. Rose explains, "They allowed me the freedom to write my own words and melodies, and although it’s only a couple of lines, it really felt great…I really liked the energy of the tracks and since I’m rarely asked to do anything I’d actually enjoy or be glad to be a part of, I’m more than grateful for the opportunity and hope the fans get a kick out of it as well." (Source: gunsnroses.com).

While his vocal appearances are brief, fans hungry to hear a fresh recording of Rose’s one-of-a-kind wails and vast vocal range won’t be disappointed.

The Big Three

With the option to choose the songs on which to contribute, the three Rose selected are definitely the most memorable tracks—starting with a cover of Aerosmith’s "Back in the Saddle." The two front men alternate verse lines, then scream the chorus together, "Now I’m baaaaaayyck!" It’s a decent modernized cover of a song with a lyrical message that’s fitting for both Bach and Rose.

The one song off Angel Down that really hits the mark is "(Love Is) a Bitchslap." It’s upbeat and energetic, and it’ll have casual listeners saying, "Who is that? Sebastian Bach? Really?" Rose contributes backing vocals in the chorus and a deep devilish voice that repeats random verse lines. If there’s a radio hit on the record, this is the one.

The next song, "Stuck Inside," is twisty and full of screams. But the real highlight is at the 1:40 mark, when the song transitions into a bridge featuring Rose wailing in a style that Bach described in one interview as "a demon from hell." He wasn’t exaggerating, as Rose gives "Stuck Inside" the kick in the ass it needs for a proper eyes-closed, head-banging moment.

Strangely, the way the latter two songs start remind me of a riff and sound that would come from Velvet Revolver. But the cowbell and Bach’s vocal style make it quickly apparent which artist is "Now Playing."

What I Didn’t Like

The record is a few tracks too long, beating you over the head with the same heavy pounding sound…over and over again. The second half of the album becomes somewhat muddled, and it takes some effort and fan-ship to get through it all—especially the two ballads, "By Your Side" and "Falling Into You."

"By Your Side" instantly reminded me of Skid Row’s "I Remember You," and "Falling Into You" is just too much of an ’80s power-hour dedication song for my taste. Now, I went through that phase, too, in seventh grade when I’d call up a radio station and dedicate one of these songs to my "Winnie Cooper." Regardless, I find these two tracks so cheesy that I’m itching to hit the "next" button every time they come on.

Despite these flaws, you have to admire how much enthusiasm and heart comes through from Bach on Angel Down. It’s doubtful that anything negative said could ever deter Bach from making music like this for a living. Picturing him at work in the studio, I keep going back to Bach’s lyric, "I’m just having a good time!/ Just having a good time!"

All In All…

Sebastian Bach hasn’t released a solo record in almost a decade (though he’s kept busy in his exploration of alternative avenues of entertainment, like sharpening his acting skills starring on Broadway and reality TV shows). And after listening to Angel Down, the lapse in album-making time hasn’t deterred him from sticking close to the formula that’s worked for him and his fans since Skid Row hit the scene in the ’80s.

No question, fans of Skid Row or any other Bach endeavor are sure to be pumping their fists once Angel Down comes roaring from their stereo speakers. As for the casual fan, you’ll be track jumping, finding what you like between one and five. B | Eammon Azizi

RIYL: Skid Row, Skid Row, Skid Row

Standout Tracks: "Back in the Saddle," "(Love Is) a Bitchslap," "Our Love Is a Lie," "You Don’t Understand"

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