Here's a track-by-track review of Skid Row's forthcoming Revolutions Per Minute album. The disc hits stores Oct. 24 via the SPV label.
Opening with some discordant riffing and the first of many screams courtesy of frontman Johnny Solinger, there's no doubt that this record is an aggressive affair. But will it have the melody to make it memorable? Only repeated listens will yield that answer. For now I can say the guitar solo here is sludgy and heavy on the wah-wah in a Jerry Cantrell kind of way. In fact, think Alice in Chains and you'll have an idea of what's going on in this opening cut.
"Another Dick in the System"
This track is likely to be a cool one in concert. It's a no-nonsense hard rocker that ends with a "Hey . . . hey . . . hey" chant that should get audiences pumped to sing along. Guitarists Dave "Snake" Sabo and Scotti Hill trade some unique licks with a Nashville twang/rockabilly feel in the solo.
"Pulling My Heart Out From Under Me"
Here is really the first time we get a taste of the slightly gothic vocal style Solinger is rocking on this album. His deep baritone complements this dark tale of love lost. Just as you tire of his voice creeping along like a convalescent, he rips into some throaty screams. His nuanced vocal performance is the highlight of this cut.
"When God Can't Wait"
An absolute raucous two minute, 13 second blast of melodic punk energy and one of the best tracks on the disc. It sounds like a cross between vintage Misfits and an Irish pub rock act such as the Pogues. This cut will be remembered as a latter-day Skid Row classic.
"Shut Up Baby, I Love You"
The punk rudeness continues on yet another tale of scorned love. I'd have to say this tune bears the most similarity to some of the harder-edged Skid Row material of the Sebastian Bach days. Perhaps it's the riotous gangs vocals, which scream the title during the chorus, or the bass-heavy groove, but "Shut Up Baby, I Love You" should definitely appeal to fans of old-school tunes like "Piece of Me" or "Slave to the Grind."
This cover of the Alarm classic is a bit left field, but one of the more memorable tunes on the album. "Strength" boasts an anthemic and uplifting message of survival and is the longest cut on the disc at just over five minutes. Hill and Sabo get into some great slurred harmonics on the verses. I believe "slurred harmonics" is the correct name for the guitar technique. But if not, think about the trickling guitar sound on the title track of Iron Maiden's Killers once that tune kicks in and you'll know what I'm talking about.
The lyrics to this tune have the kind of tongue-in-cheek irony that a lot of early Black Flag had. As such, it picks up on the punk rock thread that runs through RPM. Musically, this is short and concise, with Solinger delivering most of his lines in a kind of talking blues format. This song even features a mean harmonica solo to boot! Yet because the lyrics are (intentionally) silly, I'll have to say this is my least favorite cut on the album.
Here's where Solinger -- a Texas native -- really lets his Lone Star roots hang out. "You Lie" is outlaw country music through and through. Solinger hurls curses and other invectives at an unfaithful woman, while the band twangs away with a four-on-the-floor pattern. Just when you think there's nary a distortion pedal to be heard, the song takes a metalized turn -- right after a very vintage rockabilly-style guitar solo. From country to metal in under three minutes, that's quite a journey!
An alternate country-fried mix of "You Lie" -- replete with added harmonica and pedal steel guitar -- is offered as a bonus track on the version of RPM that I have.
The search for a bona fide '80s anthem stops here! "Nothing" has all the harmony and hooks of a Bach-era outtake -- and that's a good thing. And that guitar solo: short but absolutely blazing with all the melody that characterized the band's most memorable leads. Put this one on repeat.
"Love Is Dead"
Just in time for Halloween, the Skids get into a little Type O Negative/Bronx Casket Company groove. The riffing takes lurching stop and starts, while Solinger's voice delves into the deeper registers again for this spooky tune. Right around the two-minute mark, the group works in a breakdown that sounds quite similar to the one in the title track from Ozzy Osbourne's No More Tears. "Love Is Dead" would fit well on the soundtrack of a B-movie horror flick.
"Let It Ride"
Solinger & Co. end the album on a hard and heavy note. "Let It Ride" seems to be an ode to life in a rock & roll band. It boasts another ripping guitar solo, but otherwise this track is mediocre. Thankfully, it's in and out in under three minutes.
"You Lie" (Bonus Track)
See comments above in the "You Lie" entry.