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Slave to the Grind

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  • Slave to the Grind is the absolute epitome of Southern American Hard rock, from the same school as Blackfoot. The Guns ‘n’ Roses comparison is tempting, but GnR have a completely different style overall (with the exception of maybe “Welcome to the Jungle”) and, as a vocalist, Axel Rose sounds positively weedy and strangled next to Mr Bach’s mighty lungs. It must also be noted that Slash’s solos lack the tight structures of Sabo’s. This is not to say that one is better than the other, of course!I should really award 4 stars, as this album does contain weaker tracks, which I would not normally allow in an album that I would consider a classic. Yet STTG raises itself proudly above its weaker moments with awesome strength and masterful rifferama.The Bon Jovi comparisons are obvious – especially as JBJ himself “discovered” Skid Row (or should that be Skid Row II? The original SR was headed by none other than a 16-year old Gary Moore). Any comparisons with speed metal – especially Motorhead – are totally ridiculous. The title track is the fastest track on the album and, as has been pointed out many times, it kicks… But it’s not speed metal in the sense that Kill ‘Em All is a speed metal album (not thrash). STTG may have a back beat, but there are no intense moments of pure amphetamine fuelled double-bass drum/thrashed bass/single note ecstasy here – it’s just very fast, very hard rock and roll in it’s most undiluted form.In a Darkened Room gives me shivers up and down my spine just by typing the title and hearing snippets running through my head. That is how good a ballad it is. I do not really consider the lyrics to be poetry, except in the “sheer bloody…” sense. When you’ve cracked open a few tinnies, or simply got the car stereo cranked right up, you don’t necessarily want Marillion-esque depth to the words, you just want something to scream out. This album fulfils that role with aplomb = every song is incredibly singable – in fact, if you sing the “weaker” songs, they seem to acquire a new strength. Get the F*ck Out was a…take of Extreme’s single of the time “Get the Funk Out”…Skid row re-define the pallette for their genre of hard rock with the remaining tracks, but just having the two greats of Darkened Room and the title track on the album give the rest of the music a context to work in. Hence, the album can be enjoyed as an entity from start to finish and seems to work best in the order it is presented in. This is what makes it a classic. The lights and shades deftly managed by artists working completely intuitively. Great artists strive for this intuitive feeling to come through their work, and often only achieve it a handful of times. Think Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones, the Beatles (White Album) and Radiohead’s OK Computer. I’m not saying Skid Row are in the same league as those premiership luminaries, but that this album shares the same qualities of greatness. The whole feeling of a journey is there from start to finish – and that feeling at the end of having arrived somewhere. This is often accompanied by dissatisfaction, in the sense that it is better to travel than to arrive, and there is a powerful urge to start the whole thing over. In other words, it sounds best on repeat! You will be able to listen to it in 20 years time and hear something fresh in there. I guarantee it. But you will also, of course, feel the need to put it aside for a while and consume lighter music until your palette screams out for more.If it’s not already in your collection buy it. If you don’t like it immediately, there’s nothing wrong – you weren’t given bad advice. Like any great work, some of the finer points take a while to pick up on – and this album is no exception to that rule!

    Posted on December 18, 2009