First things first: this is a HEAVY album. It’s really too bad that this album was so overlooked upon its release. Public interest in “Subhuman Race” faded quickly after its release due to two, and only two, factors:1. The “Eighteen and Life” Skid Row crowd was hoping that the Skidders would return to their hair-metal phase after the hot-coal guitars of “Slave to the Grind”. They didn’t, and the kiddies went elsewhere for their anthems.2. The fan base that actually liked the heaviness of “Slave” got caught up in the grunge movement and thought Skid was trying to go grunge, too. They felt betrayed, and called Skid Row “sellouts”.Like me, a small amount of true fans of heavy music appreciated this album as a bracing effort that continued Skid Row’s move to dark side of rock. The guitars are as heavy as any in rock, and Snake’s playing had never been better, but the crowd wanted another sexy MTV video. Ironically, another metal band by the name of Metallica released their “Load” album shortly thereafter and was equally chastised for going…soft. Go figure.I still shake the house with this hammering album from time to time. “Subhuman Race” had the power to bridge the gap between grunge and the boy-band fluff that still infiltrates music in the early 00’s. Unfortunately, nobody listened.
In the three years between Skid Row’s rarities compilation B-Sides Ourselves–four years if you’re counting from their last real studio album, 1991’s Slave to the Grind–and Subhuman Race, the world turned its attention away from hair metal and toward hip-hop, grunge, and a harder, faster, louder brand of thrash metal. Which is too bad, because Subhuman Race is the best album of the group’s career, forgoing the pop-metal sheen of earlier hits such as ”18 and Life” and ”I Remember You” in favor of a tougher sound that matches the tenor of the times. Tracks such as ”Bonehead,” ”Beat Yourself Blind,” and the title track mix razor-sharp guitar lines, grinding rhythms, and Sebastian Bach’s stinging shriek, keeping the emphasis squarely on the music, as opposed to Bach’s once-misanthropic ways. –Daniel Durchholz
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“Slave to the Grind” is their best CD without a doubt, but if you skipped this CD when it was released because you were into grunge, then you need to go back and buy it. I overlooked it too. Wow. What a powerful sound they got on this. Very dark and moody songs, but VERY HEAVY. Sebastian Bachs voice is unbelievable. Loud, clear, and he holds notes forever! Both guitarists absolutely smoke on the songs. So crunchy and heavy. “Firesign”, “Frozen”, “Beat Yourself Blind” and “Remains to be Seen” are incredible songs. “Breakin’ Down” is a better ballad than “I’ll Remember You” was. I can’t stop listening to this CD since I got it. The only people who gave this a bad review are the ones who wanted the first CD sound, not the “Slave” sound. HEAVY!!
Honest magazines of the time agreed that this rocked mightily. But it was 1995 and they were few and far between as it was basically illegal to like Skid Row at the height of grunge and alterna-rock hegemony.
But bugger the mainstream – this rocked! A mature slice of corporate metal still with Bachs trademark pipes soaring and growling their way through tunes that had more in common with Slave to the Grind than the debut. Which is as you’d expect. Heavy rockers abound here as hard riffing is the order of the day, personal faves bein the lead cut My Enemy, the title track and Medicine Jar. That’s not to deny the impassioned Bach efforts on Frozen or Beat Yourself Blind. And the band weren’t above a few gimmicks, such as the single Breakin’ Down being issued in two versions, effectively trying to double sales for the single. But hey, Maiden relentlessly issue all sorts of versions of everything to siphon the last cent (or pence) from their fans wallets and let’s not even start on KISS! So I can forgive ‘em and really this solid metal outing should of sufficed to silence critics and to ensure the bands survival.
Other tidbits you may find helpful in making your choice would be A) bob Rock production, B) nifty foldout packaging on the initial pressing and C) a defiant will to win. Though to be fair, reasons not to buy this would be A) not quite the kill factor of Slave to the Grind, B) knowing the band were disintegrating from within – yeah it’s a downer and C) the absence of chilling slower numbers – there is nothing approaching In A Darkened Room, Wasted Time or Quicksand Jesus.
Still, recommended metal.
I HADN’T BOUGHT A SKID ROW ALBUM SINCE 1992′S B-SIDES OURSELVES WHEN I PICKED UP 1998′S 40 SEASONS-THE BEST OF SKID ROW. I gave a listen to the songs from Subhuman Race(an album I had been told was bad. Follow yourselves people) and i was so impressed i bought the album the same day. WOW. Heavier which may upset the “I Remember You” crowd but this album is amazing. Lyrically, a major progression has taken place. Songs like “Frozen” and “Firesign” are great examples of that lyricism at work. “Breakin’ Down” a song written by “Snake” Sabo should satisfy the ballad crowd as should “Eileen”. The album is a bit of a departure for the band but is still down and dirty rock and roll, just like when the band started. Rock on MOTHER TRUCKERS!
And that is no lie. Without question, Skid Row’s finest ever offered, serving up monsterous riffs, Bach dishing out catostorophic vocals, and the entire band bashing away at some of the heaviest music ever. Every song is slammin’, the most fatal ones being My Enemy, Bonehead, BEAT YOURSELF BLIND, Subhuman Race, Frozen and Breakin’ Down. I can’t stress to you enough, if you did not like their first album, then this will not let you down. GET THIS ALBUM, IT MUST BE HEARD TO BE BELIEVED!