Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Singles Collection: Skid Row "We Are The Damned" Review

As you might remember back when I did my review of Skid Row's review of United World Rebellion - Chapter One (which you can read here, if you haven't read it), I mentioned that Skid Row were working on making a trilogy of EPs in this series and that, at the time, I had no real information about when the second part would be out.

Well, the second part (with the rather long winded title 'Rise Of The Damnation Army' - United World Rebellion: Chapter Two) is FINALLY confirmed to be out in August with another five songs (and two covers which look like they might actually be rather interesting: "Sheer Heart Attack" by Queen and "Rats In The Cellar" by Aerosmith) and, to get the band's fans excited again, the band have released the first song from the album, "We Are The Damned" (which should DEFINITELY not be confused with "March Of The Damned" by Judas Priest)!

So, what's it like? Well, let's give a look at it!

First of all, go give the track a listen. Click this link and scroll down to the audio section to hear the track (the band haven't put the track on youtube at the time of writing, so I can't link you to that. Sorry!):

The first thing you'll notice is that Solinger's voice still sounds like it did on the previous EP. He certainly doesn't sound like the same guy who sung "Ghost" on 2003's Thickskin: he sounds like he's grown into the vocal role that you'd expect from a guy who has been singing stuff like "18 & Life" and "Slave To The Grind" for 15 years now! If you're still on the "No Bach, no Skid Row" side of the debate (in which case...dude, it's now been 15 years since Solinger joined the band, so he's been in the band longer than Bach has. With all due respect, and in words that you should have no problem understanding, grow the fuck up! It really says a lot that a guy who recently turned 21 is being more accepting about this kind of thing than you are...), you might be in for a pleasant surprise, as his punk influenced take on Bach's style is pretty good, although he sadly doesn't try to go for the impressive screams like he did on last year's "Kings Of Demolition". Maybe there'll be more of that kind of thing on the EP...

The second thing you'll notice is the music has dialled up the heaviness a bit! The starting riff didn't make me think of Skid Row so much as it did vaguely of Crashdiet (which, admittedly, makes sense: Skid Row had a huge influence on sleaze metal). It's not QUITE to the levels on Slave To The Grind, but it's definitely a small step in that direction, while still keeping the band's more punk influenced sound that they developed on the last EP. It's here that my praise might have to stop, though...

The third thing I need to mention, sadly, is a negative: the production is too loudly mastered and the bass is nearly impossible to hear. I'm not exaggerating, it took me several listens to realise that there was ANY bass on the track because I was too afraid to turn the volume up more than halfway on my speakers out of concern for being deafened by the guitars! THAT'S NOT GOOD PRODUCTION, GUYS! You'd have done yourselves more favours by putting the guitars lower in the mix, making the bass louder and not mastering it so loudly that I'd be afraid of blowing my ears off if I played this as loudly as my speakers could cope with!

As for the song itself...distressingly, the hook for the chorus doesn't last in your head especially long! To be fair to it, it DOES start to sink in after a bit, but it requires several listens to really sink in, which is not really a good sign when you consider that this song is meant to promote the EP and encourage people to buy it, as most people will probably pass over it after the first listen. The guitar work is solid (and the opening riff is brilliant!), the drumming is solid, the bass might as well not exist for all I can hear of it...if it weren't for the fact the song takes so long to sink in, it'd be a track I'd be saying was fairly solid. As it stands, it's a track that takes a few listens to really sink in, but is enjoyable enough.

So, final thoughts? Aside from the mixing and mastering issues, it's a solid enough track, just lacking in being instantly memorable. I don't see this topping what the band did on the previous EP in the slightest, but it's still OK.

Final Rating: 6 Out Of 10

Skid Row fans who have accepting Solinger as the band's vocalist should enjoy this after a few listens. Everyone else would be advised to only approach this if they want to avoid having a frame of reference for what Skid Row are like at their best and to judge the track on its own merits...and, even then, I doubt you'll come away too impressed with this, to be totally honest.

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