Skid Row Thickskin
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I never really understood why Skid Row was lumped in with the rest of the "hair bands" (Cinderella, Ratt, Slaughter) of the late '80s and early '90s. Once you got past the "hair band" vocals of Sebastian Bach, especially in their singles, you actually found a more punk-influenced hard rock act that deserved more attention than they got. Once the band (Rachel Bolan on bass and Scottie Hill and Snake on guitars) split with Sebastian, many casual fans felt the band was done for good. But, hardcore fans could tell you the band (now with drummer Phil Varone and new vocalist Johnny Solinger) was still touring and Thickskin represents the first new album from the act in a while.

First and foremost, there is a noticeable difference between the vocals of Solinger and Bach. While Bach was a screaming "attention whore", Solinger proves to have a better range, allowing for a wider palate of moods. I liken the change to Anthrax's replacement of Joey Belladonna with John Bush, who managed to mature the sound of the band.

New Generation, obviously written as a statement piece, is a nice opener, feeling similar to Marilyn Manson's The Beautiful People in the military-type staccato beat that paces it. Thick is the Skin proves to be a harsh, thrashing track that has the power-metal feel of an older Pantera. Mouth of Voodoo hails back to older Skid Row without being too "old school" about it.

I will say that Thickskin has more than its fair share of ballads and lighter, more mature tracks. Ghost, while not a bad track, feels a lot more like Silverchair or Nickelback than the punk-styled older Skid Row. See You Around and Born a Beggar are decent songs, but by the time you reach track eight, One Light, you may begin to feel there are just way too many ballads on this album. Yeah, I know that lighter songs are a nice change of pace, but there's something to be said about not overdoing it.

Track nine, I Remember You Two, is a remake of the original song but done at a faster pace. While I was never really a fan of remaking older songs, this track is actually a refreshing take on the older song. The final track, Hitting A Wall, is nice, but sounds instantly familiar. You know why? Because the chorus sounds so much like Judas Priest's Breaking The Law it doesn't even begin to be funny.

If you're die-hard fan of Skid Row, you should check out this new album as it's one of the few new albums from older acts that proves to be decent without feeling like the act is grasping for past glory. Skid Row is obviously trying to move forward and I can applaud them for that. The new music is written and performed well, even if don't care for the stronger focus on ballads and lighter-toned tracks.

- - Vane

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