The Gang's All Here

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Hell Or High Water
02. The Gang's All Here
03. Not Dead Yet
04. Time Bomb
05. Resurrected
06. Nowhere Fast
07. The Lights Come On
08. Tear It Down
09. October's Song
10. World's On Fire

There have been times over the last 25 years when it has been a struggle to be a SKID ROW fan. Few would dispute the importance and brilliance of the band's first three albums, but the departure of frontman Sebastian Bach in 1996 came at the worst possible time, leaving the band with a real identity problem as grunge dominated the airwaves. Eight years after "Subhuman Race", SKID ROW returned with a new vocalist — the late Johnny Solinger — and a stripped down, dirtied up sound, but two subsequent albums (2003's "Thickskin" and 2006's "Revolutions Per Minute") manifestly failed to set the world alight. With all due respect to the likeable Solinger, Bach's shoes were too big to fill with enthusiasm alone.

Ex-DRAGONFORCE singer ZP Theart assumed the frontman's role from 2016, and it was arguably during the years that followed that SKID ROW suddenly seemed to reconnect with the ambition and intensity of their early years. More importantly, perhaps, they had a singer that could hit Bach's high notes, at least until early in 2022, when it was announced that SKID ROW had a new new singer: former H.E.A.T. man Erik Grönwall. For those who knew Grönwall from previous endeavors, this was glorious news. Emerging a few months later, "The Gang's All Here" demonstrates why.

All the fans ever really wanted from SKID ROW was another album that tapped into the spirit of "Skid Row" and "Slave to the Grind" and shared those records' rabid, swaggering greatness. Newly armed with a singer who can basically do anything, Rachel Bolan and his veteran comrades have done exactly that. Grönwall is a towering, irresistible presence throughout, soaring over the riffs with sickening ease and always sounding like the most excited man in the room. But a new singer would count for nothing if SKID ROW were still churning out "Thickskin"'s half-baked hard rock.

The real revelation here is that "The Gang's All Here" boasts several songs that could stand shoulder to shoulder with those immortal early anthems. "Hell Or High Water" is a sinewy, strutting thing, and a dazzling showcase for Grönwall. The title track is a riotous joy, with a brilliantly dumb sing-along chorus and lashings of Sunset Strip snot. "Time Bomb" is a nailed-on crowd-pleaser with a deeply gnarly main riff and endearingly goofy lyrics. "Tear It Down" blends a lascivious, knucklehead groove with euphoric, DEF LEPPARD-like gang vocals and an absolute peach of a chorus. The other tracks are all of comparable quality, as SKID ROW audibly recapture whatever it was that made them so special first time around.

As unexpected as it is welcome, "The Gang's All Here" is an exciting, edgy rock 'n' roll record with a heavy metal heart. It's the kind of record that made SKID ROW famous. Hearing them back in this form, with such a unique and unstoppable talent behind the mic, is one of the year's greatest joys. The gang is back!

Author: Dom Lawson
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