Skid Row — The Gang’s All Here
It’s been a long road for Skid Row. Their debut record in 1989 was a huge success and they found themselves with the opening slot on the Bon Jovi “New Jersey” tour. A few albums later they parted ways with Sebastian Bach and never really found success with subsequent singers Johnny Solinger, Tony Harnell or ZP Theart, having never released an album with either of the last two.
But now the band is back with a new album and a new singer. Erik Gronwall, formerly of H.E.A.T., is fronting the new album “The Gang’s All Here”. Gronwall won 2009’s Swedish Idol and also played Simon in NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” that also featured Alice Cooper.
The new album is a return to the early sound of the band with big gang vocals and rock anthems. Time for a track by track breakdown.
Hell or High Water — As expected, the album begins with a rocker. Gronwall shows off his pipes from the very start. Gronwall’s voice is similar to Bach’s in that they both have a similar range with plenty of power. But Gronwall isn’t trying to sound like Bach as he has his own style. A strong start.
The Gang’s All Here — The title track is another rocker with that Skid Row feel to it. It’s both heavy and catchy and full of energy. It really does feel like the band has been reinvigorated.
Not Dead Yet — The energetic start continues on this short, almost punk sounding track. Gronwall doesn’t hold back as he shows off his range on this one.
Time Bomb — This one sounds a little more modern to me, almost like a Shinedown track, especially in the chorus. It still has that energy but I like the more modern feel to this one.
Resurrected — This is the first track that sounds a little more like H.E.A.T. as it’s a little more melodic from the start but still with plenty of energy. I hope Gronwall is received on his own merit. Sure, he has some similar qualities to Bach but I think he does a great job of doing his own thing. One of my favorites so far.
Nowhere Fast — Another heavy track that’s a little more melodic in the chorus. I believe fans of the first few Skid Row records will be very happy with the direction of the band. It feels like a cross between the first two records.
When The Lights Come On — A bass line is the main feature in this one from the start. This one almost has a 70s Kiss sound to it which has always been a major influence for the band. It almost feels like this should have been the fourth Skid Row record.
Tear It Down — Another strong track with lots of gang vocals throughout the track. I really like when bands find that balance between honoring who they are but bringing something new. This album feels like they have hit that balance.
October’s Song — The one ballad on the record that doesn’t sound anything like “18 and Life” or “I Remember You”. It’s over 7 minutes long and has more of an epic feel to it than power ballad. This is one of the better ballads that I’ve heard in quite a long time. Just a great track.
World’s On Fire — The album ends with another energetic rocker. It’s an appropriate end to a great record.
After over 20 years it feels like the band has finally found their singer. Gronwall is the perfect fit to allow the band to return to their original sound without sounding like they are repeating their catalogue. He doesn’t sound like a replacement singer — this sounds like a band that has been reborn.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from “The Gang’s All Here” but I certainly didn’t expect an album to rival their classic self-titled debut. And that’s the comparable to this record. It’s not as heavy as “Slave To The Grind” or “Subhuman Race”. It’s much more in line with the debut.
Fans of the band and especially fans of the first album should really love this record. I was a fan of Gronwall from his time in H.E.A.T. but even my expectations have been exceeded with “The Gang’s All Here”. Now I just hope that this version of the band stays together and continues to release music as they are off to a fantastic start.
95 out of 100
1. Hell or High Water *
2. The Gang’s All Here *
3. Not Dead Yet
4. Time Bomb
5. Resurrected *
6. Nowhere Fast
7. When the Lights Come On
8. Tear It Down *
9. October’s Song *
10. World’s on Fire *