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Skid Row – Rise of the Damnation Army

Album Review

Or, to give it its full title, Rise of the Damnation Army: United World Rebellion Chapter Two

UWRC2 is the middle instalment of Skid Row’s mini-LP trilogy, due to be released over several months. It's the band’s acknowledgement of the so-called new modern musical landscape and an alternative creative and commercial strategy to releasing a single full album.

So does it work then, the guerrilla tactics of firing off a succinct salvo of tracks rather than one long player?

It does in the sense that Chapter Two keeps things concise and to the point, following the battle plan laid down by Chapter One: four melodic but seriously bruising heavy hitters, one slowie and two slightly off the wall cover versions. Whether it’s really been worthwhile will depend on the quality of Chapter Three, but it’s sounding pretty rosie so far.

And what about this supposed return to their roots – in other words, unlike 2003’s Thickskin and 2006’s Revolutions Per Minute – how’s that working out for them?

Not too bad, thanks for asking – though there’s sadly not a cow bell within earshot. Vocalist Johnny Solinger actually sounds comfortable at the mic and he puts in some absolutely rip-snorting performances on We Are The Damned, Give It The Gun and Damnation Army. He even tries to do justice to the rather soft-centred Catch Your Fall – a new I Remember You it is not, though it does serve to provide a much-needed counterpoint to the sounds of riot and revolution present elsewhere.

Last year’s Chapter One included covers of EZO’s Fire Fire and Priest’s United. This outing has a similarly off the wall brace of covers…

Very true. The band make a very fine fist of Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack and Aerosmith’s Rats In The Cellar. They might seem like strange choices to tack onto five tunes about storming the barricades, but in terms of fist-banging energy they are absolutely on the money. They put some serious venom into the Queen classic and they do da ‘Smiths sleazy gem proud with Solinger obviously relishing the opportunity to step into Steven Tyler’s snakeskin shoes.

So will all this silence the naysayers and the fans of old for whom Seb Bach is the one true voice of Skid Row?

Probably not. But you have to hand it to the band – they have forged ahead despite their detractors and come up with something that has the allure of their classic sound, yet finally bodes well for the future. Roll on Chapter Three.

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