It's been a few years since we've last heard former Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach (the last Frameshift album as a matter of fact), but he's back with a vengeance on his latest solo release Angel Down. If you've ever doubted that this guy was a premier hard rock/metal vocalist, give this smoldering platter a listen and it will wipe any doubts from your mind pretty quickly. Sounding like a cross between Slave to the Grind and Subhuman Race era Skid Row with a little Pantera styled thrash, this gives you a good idea what to expect here on Angel Down. Guns 'N' Roses singer Axl Rose guests on three tunes on the CD, and Bach's backing band is comprised of none other than Metal Mike Chlasciak & Johnny Chromatic on guitars, Steve DiGiorgio on bass, and Bobby Jarzombek on drums, making this truly an all-star event. Production was by none other than Roy Z, so you know you're going to get a great sounding product.
The speed metal demon "Angel Down" kicks things off in heavy fashion, this one a complete crusher with Bach's wailing metal screeches leading the charge over some truly heavy riffs, gurgling bass lines from DiGiorgio, and Jarzombek's intricate drum fills. The drummer leads in the next track, a solid melodic metal tune featuring plenty of hooks, tasty harmony lines from Metal Mike and Chromatic, yet despite the songs memorable and catchy nature it's still plenty heavy. Axl makes his appearances on the next three songs, the remake of Aerosmith's "Back In the Saddle" (which sees both vocal legends trading off and seemingly having a blast), the somewhat reserved yet catchy "(Love Is) A Bitchslap", and the grinding metal thumper "Stuck Inside", the latter once again featuring both singers trading off vocal lines with plenty of venom, and also includes some screaming guitar work.
"American Metalhead" is a mid-paced crunchy anthem, not one of the best tunes on the album but still decent, but Bach and the band plow full speed ahead on the angry "Negative Light", a real scorcher of a number that approaches Pantera-like riffing and some real nasty vocals from Bach. "Live & Die" is another memorable melodic metal piece, with Metal Mike & Chromatic really digging with some heavy riffs, and Bach mixing up the clean passages with plenty of screams and gruff vocals. It's at this point when the first power ballad of the CD pops up, the emotional "By Your Side". This one is mostly acoustic, and has a familiar feel to it that will probably remind you of a few of Skid Row's ballads from back in the day. Despite that, it's still a cool song that will have you humming the melodies instantly. It also happens to be the longest cut on the CD at just under 6 minutes long. "Our Love Is A Lie" has sort of a blues-metal feel to it, and "Take You Down With Me" is heavy as hell but offers up plenty of groove as well as Bach's commanding vocal presence. The two guitarists offer up plenty of tasty treats on the chunky "Stabbin' Daggers", a tune featuring no shortage of hot solos and smoldering riffs, as does "You Bring Me Down", yet this piece has somewhat of a generic feel which leaves me wondering if perhaps this CD could have been trimmed of a song or two. By the time you get to the final number, the ballad " Falling Into You" , it becomes pretty obvious that Bach might have been better served to leave these last two tunes off, as they sort of make the latter half of the album drag a bit. 12 tunes probably would have been more than enough here, and in fact the first half+ of the CD is exceptionally strong.
No matter what way you look at it, Angel Down is a very solid return to what Sebastian Bach does best, which is sing kick ass metal tunes. Here's hoping he gets these songs and this killer band out on the road pronto so we can all enjoy this metal mayhem on stage where it deserves to be.
1. Angel Down 3:48
2. You Don't Understand 3:07
3. Back In The Saddle (featuring Axl Rose) 4:19
4. (Love Is) A Btichslap (featuring Axl Rose) 3:08
5. Stuck Inside (featuring Axl Rose) 2:57
6. American Metalhead 4:02
7. Negative Light 4:33
8. Live & Die 3:53
9. By Your Side 5:27
10. Our Love Is A Lie 3:20
11. Take You Down With Me 4:37
12. Stabbin' Daggers 3:41
13. You Bring Me Down 3:16
14. Falling Into You