Hell or High Water: Reviewing Skid Row’s The Gangs All Here

All images courtesy of Atom Splitter PR

By John Siden

I’ll be honest; I haven’t thought of Skid Row for some time. Aside from the Record Store Day release of Slave to the Grind, that was impossible to get. As it turns out, the band has been rolling along over the years and has presented us with some new music.

The title is appropriate because aside from a new singer, the band is basically intact with Dave “Snake” Sabo on guitar, Rachel Bolan on bass, Scotti Hill also on guitar, and Rob Hammersmith on drums. The trio of Sabo, Bolan, and Hill has been with the band since the early days.

The Gangs All Here is their first record since 2006’s Revolutions Per Minute. While there has not been much music released since then, aside from a pair of EPs, the band has been active and burned through a few vocalists in that time, including Tony Harnell (formerly of TNT ) and ZP Theart (formerly of Dragonforce ).

For this record, the band has hired Erik Grönwall. For those unaware, Grönwall was a winner of the Swedish Idol show and has also had a few solo albums. He also was the lead singer for H.E.A.T., so he does have a few notable items on his resume. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say. Can he pull off being the frontman of Skid Row? Based on what I have heard on this record, I would have to say yes.

One thing you can say for sure is this sounds like a Skid Row album through and through. None of the flavors has been lost with a new vocalist. In fact, it is reminiscent of the earliest records when Sebastian Bach was in tow. What we have is a very good set of tracks that really stand out. Instantly likable with some big choruses. The album has spawned the four singles “The Gangs All Here,” “Tear it Down,” “Time Bomb,” and “October’s Song.”

All images courtesy of Atom Splitter PR

Kicking things off, we have “Hell or High Water,” which, to be honest, I am surprised wasn’t a single as well. This song rocks hard and is a perfect way to start things. The lyrics “I’ll be there come hell or high water” make me think of the band’s longevity, but a closer look shows the song has darker themes than that. A strong riff and some nice soloing also highlight this one.

The title track and first single, “The Gang’s All Here,” is the second song and a slice of classic metal. The lyrics make me think they are having a wild party or maybe a crime spree, not sure which. “Not Dead Yet” keeps the proceedings rolling along. Excellent lead guitar work continues on this one. Grönwall keeps belting out these songs showing he is up to the task. This is another hard-in-your-face rocker that never backs down. “Time Bomb” follows and is one of the singles and has a powerful chorus. The pace is a little slower than previous tracks, but the chorus has an arena-friendly sing-along vibe that grabs you by the nether regions.

“Resurrected” continues the party and picks the pace up again. This one continues the theme of straightforward rockers with solid melodies. Lead vocals are once again a highlight here. “Nowhere Fast” is still a pretty hard-rocking tune but more in the vein of “Time Bomb” as far as pacing. The guitar solo in the mid-section is a highlight. As with most of the record, the lyrics are decent, not great, but this is more about rocking hard anyway, so they fit in with that ethos.

“When the Lights Come on” is one of the stronger songs chorus-wise. Easy to sing along to this one even after one listens. Next up, we have another one of the singles, “Tear it Down,” which is alright but my least favorite of the singles on this record. But, honestly, still a decent song. The final single off this record (so far, anyway) is “October’s Song,” which is a change of pace and the prettiest-sounding song to start. It’s a longer track at over seven minutes and falls more into the almost ballad side of things. Strong vocals from Grönwall once again highlight this one. I really like this song and think it is one of the record’s highlights.

We wrap up the proceedings with “World on Fire,” which returns to the straight-ahead hard-edged rock that has proliferated this album. Not the greatest of these songs, but it’s alright. In my opinion, it would have been better to end on “October’s Song “instead and have this as track nine. But I may be splitting hairs here.

Overall, I love this record. The Gang’s All Here could be seen as a return to form or possibly a complete rebirth. I quite honestly can’t wait to see where they go from here. It could get pretty exciting.

All images courtesy of Atom Splitter PR

John Siden (@jake1967) is a contributor for www.vwmusicrocks.com and may be reached at john.siden391@gmail.com

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