CD Review: Sebastian Bach, “Kicking & Screaming”
I’m pretty sure Sebastian Bach needed this record right now. Having filed for divorce late last year and then having his one of kind Skid Row masters and Kiss memorabilia destroyed by hurricane Irene, it feels like the right time for him to kick a little ass again.
Personally, I can’t help but like the guy. He’s off-the-wall and can often waver between train-wreck and 14-year-old but he’s a rock ‘n’ roller if there ever was one. You can’t help but see in his eyes that he lives for rock music whether it’s his own tunes or his undying love for Axl Rose. After Appetite for Destruction, Skid Row may have the second best hair metal record of all time in Slave To the Grind. I don’t know if he’ll ever get close to that again but he doesn’t seem like the type of guy that will give up without a fight.
His last solo record was Angel Down in 2007 which was a mixed bag critically. When it came out I vividly remember it getting killed in the media but if I go back now I see a ton of positive reviews of it. Maybe it was a grower, but for me it was horrible. None of the songs seemed like they were written for him to sing and all he did was scream in his falsetto to the point that it angered me to listen to the record. Still, I was excited about Kicking & Screaming, just as I would be with any new project Bach would put out. As a lover of rock ‘n’ roll myself I have to always hold out hope that a guy that has one of the greatest voices in rock music can put it all together at some point. He does that here, thankfully.
First and foremost, that falsetto is put away except for strategic points that definitely work with the song instead of against it. Almost everything on the disc sounds like he wrote it to his strengths as a vocalist rather than just writing a cool song. And secondly, the album rocks. I mean, it really rocks.
Bach picked the right band on this one. He’s got Bobby Jarzombek on drums (busy guy having just played on the Arch/Matheos record too) and Nick Sterling on all guitars. The three of these guys gel together better than any other group of guys Bach has worked with since the days of “The Snake.” The songs range from the supermelodic “As Long As I Got the Music” to the very cool ballad, “I’m Alive” to a hard rocker like “Dirty Power” that has all the energy “Monkey Business” had back in the day. In fact, the latter track can probably be held up in quality to anything Bach has ever released. Right after “Dirty Power” is another hard rocker called “Live the Life.” If you’re a fan of Bach or rock music in general these two back-to-back should make you jump right out of your chair. I seriously want to stand on my desk and play air-guitar right now. And it might sound odd, but the title track very well could fit on today’s rock radio. It’s doubtful he’ll have a smash hit on his hands, but I wouldn’t be shocked to hear this get some airplay either.
I have no connection to Bach other than enjoying what he does but the human being in me hopes that with all the shit going on in his life that critics and fans give him the credit he deserves for this one. Kicking & Screaming is unexpectedly fantastic and the Sebastian Bach record that I’ve been wishing for, for more than a decade now.