By JASON PRICE
Some voices come along every so often that define a genre and even a generation. As time passes, the voices that once ruled the airwaves as the gold standard seem to fade and even the genres they once inspired seem to have little creative life left in them. Luckily for us all, every once in a great while, there are exceptions to these rules. Such is the case with ever charismatic rock icon Sebastian Bach, who is about to unleash his latest genre redefining album, Angel Down.
This release marks Bach’s first solo studio album in more than seven years. During that time, the mulit-faceted Bach has not been stagnent by any stretch of the imagination. He immersed himself in several different creative outlets, with stints on Broadway (Jesus Christ Superstar, Jekyll & Hyde, Rocky Horror Picture Show) and television, ranging from drama to reality television (Gilmore Girls, Supergroup, Celebrity Rap Superstar). In 2005, Bach lent his skills as lead vocalist to record the progressive rock release Frameshift 2: The Absence of Empathy. Even as he was involved all of these endeavors, he managed to tour the world in support of long time friend Axl Rose and a little band known as Guns N’ Roses.
While touring, Bach gathered the musicians that he took into the studio to lay down one of his finest outings to date. Angel Down features “Metal” Mike Chlasciak and Johnny Chromatic on guitar, Steve DiGiorgio on bass and the powerful Bobby Jarzombek on drums. Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Judas Priest) serves as producer and lends his magic touch to conjure a dynamic and decidedly crisp sounding album. This assemblage of seasoned talent delivers an album that is well worth the seven year wait. In a return to his true metal form, the album blasts off with the indisputably heavy title track, “Angel Down.” Bach removes all doubt that he is going to a nostalgia act, as many of his metal peers have done.
A major selling point of this record is the simple fact that Bach’s voice sounds as good, if not better, then it did on any of the Skid Row albums that launched his career. Bach attributes the power, longevity and youthfulness of his voice to the time he spent on Broadway. The second track on the album is the equally powerful “You Don’t Understand.” The song is reminiscent of what Bach had accomplished at his best in Skid Row and shows where much of the talent in the original band came from. It goes to show what a great voice, quality songwriting, rockin’ riffs and catchy melodies can do for a record, easily locking the song in your head for hours.
One of the biggest stories surrounding this album is the return of Axl Rose. Rose is featured on three songs: “Back in the Saddle,” “(Love is) A Bitchslap” and “Stuck Inside.” Bach and Rose are a dynamic duo, whether they are on stage together or in the studio. These tracks definitely will whet the appetite and not disappoint all GNR fans who are anxiously awaiting Rose’s epic in the making, Chinese Democracy. The power of both singers covering Aerosmith’s classic “Back in the Saddle” is undeniable, even earning a thumbs up from Steven Tyler. This track is a true rocker and surely will fill the airwaves of radio stations all over the country.
For fans looking to see the softer side of Bach, you will be pleased to hear his powerful brand of balladeering hasn’t gone away. “By Your Side,” which he revealed was one of the first songs he penned for the album back in the year 2000, is a mostly acoustic track that ranks up there with “I Remember You.” The vocal performance on that track alone removes all doubt that Bach is one of the best vocalists of his era and is still at the top of his game today.
This record, which has not a single bad song, is without a doubt a candidate for metal album of the year. Any of track could prove to be a major mainstream hit. The bar has been set high on this triumphant return. The great thing about this record is that Bach refuses to rest on his laurels. He easily manages to bring his voice and undeniable rock n’ roll flair into the new millennium with a fresh, up-to-date sound. Bach has breathed life into a genre where life support (and creativity) is desperately needed.
Angel Down, will be released Nov. 20 via a joint venture between Merovingian Music Ltd. (MRV) and Bach’s Get Off My Bach Productions, and distributed worldwide through Caroline/EMI Music Group.
THE VERDICT: 5/5