Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Review: Sebastian Bach - Angel Down

Label: Get Off My Bach/MRV/Caroline/EMI

Released: November 20, 2007

In light of the number of 80s hair metal has-beens trying to cash in on a sadly nostalgic public, I didn't have tremendously high hopes for Sebastian Bach's latest, his first album in eight years. The upside of this record is that Bach didn't entirely bow to the past. From the opening track, it's pretty clear that Angel Down isn't just a cash-in on the sound of the first and most successful Skid Row album. It's a pretty heavy affair that taps more into his Slave to the Grind-era work along with some of the churning crunch of metal's more recent practices.

The downside is that while the songwriting and playing is soild, it's also largely uneventful. There were five tracks that Bach didn't contribute to as a writer and he wrote the rest...with help. Unfortunately, that help streamlined everything into a very generic hard rock format. What do you expect when the producer co-wrote four tracks and another one got "help" from Desmond Child who wouldn't know innovation if it hit him over the head. Even the songs written by band members don't show any desire to establish their own sound rather than just rely on Bach's voice and waning starpower. As I got further into the album, I became hopeful that he may have forgone the ballad. You can imagine my disappointment when "By Your Side" began. On top of the writing, the band is tight, but not all that enthusiastic. Technical skill is seldom a substitute for actually feeling the music and the difference between those two becomes more and more evident over the course of the album. The over-hyped presence of Axl Rose on three tracks was completely forgettable.

None of this made the album outright unlistenable, but it did keep it from reaching the level of a few other hard rock/heavy metal blasts from the past that came out this year. The one thing that really did the most to point out what's wrong with Bach's work is his cover of Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle." If you're going to take the swing out of an Aerosmith song, you better have something good in its place. Bach and company have nothing. They play it entirely safe, straightening the shuffle right out and robbing it of its swagger. This really sums up the album well. On the songs that don't have to measure up to Aerosmith's prime, Bach's conservatism isn't as clear, but the cover lays it all out in the open.

Rating: 5/10



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Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

definitely the counterpoint to the general positivity this album's received

11:31 AM  

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