Sound — 8
It's almost regularly anticipated for artists to find some sort of way to vamp up the anticipation for an upcoming studio album by creating wayward comparisons to their most cherished efforts of the past. In the case of Sebastian Bach, the former Skid Row singer attempted (and successfully) captured the interest of dedicated fans by comparing his newly released fifth solo album to the essential metal catalog release "Slave to the Grind."
It's always important to remain optimstic in these cases, as too many times before have fans been geared up in preparation for what is advertised as an exceptional return-to-form, only to be met with the crushing disappointment of an album falling flat. So the question remains: does "Give 'Em Hell" actually prove to be a landmark release in Sebastian Bach's solo career, or is there more artificial hype than there is memorable music?
It's safe to say that this new solo album is comprised of moments which feature both of these aspects. Out of the record's twelve song track listing, we are faced with a handful of songs which are set back because of a lack of solid instrumentation, for example the repetitive "Taking Back Tomorrow." From a sheer vocal standpoint, Bach is pressed to have sounded better, even going as far as to hit the same glass shattering screams which decorated his earlier albums. However, the extensive use of natural harmonics throughout the song ultimately takes away from an otherwise memorable performance.
Thankfully, there are more memorable moments included here than underwhelming ones. Selections such as the melody-driven "All of My Friends Are Dead" and the pick grinding "Hell Inside My Head" are triumphant anthems which include all of the qualities fans naturally come to expect from a new Sebastian Bach release: punishing percussion, slamming bass lines, exemplary guitar work and, of course, the impressively preserved range of Bach.
Bach has also enlisted a notable cast of musicians to contribute to his first solo album in seven years, including guitarist John 5 of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie fame, as well as bassist Duff McKagan from Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver and Billy Idol axe man Steve Stevens. McKagan serves as full time bass player on this album, whereas John 5 makes an exceptional appearance on "Temptation," where he executes a traditionally wowing guitar solo.
Stevens appears on the memorable power ballad "Had Enough," where his work serves as a complimentary feature amidst a harmony-bracketed rocker.
Lyrics — 8
The impressive range and tone of Sebastian Bach's voice remains admirably intact on "Give 'Em Hell." As is the case with many lead vocalists who venture away from their original band and establish their own solo career, this attributes a familiar quality to this compilation of new material. Bach's preserved range becomes the highlight on many songs present throughout his new solo album, such as the previously mentioned "All of My Friends Are Dead" and an exceptional April Wine cover of "Rock N Roll is a Vicious Game."
Overall Impression — 8
While it does admitably have it's share of lesser moments, "Give 'Em Hell" proves to be a standout solo album from former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach. Ranging primal screams and raging guitars are in surplus throughout the entire album, and aside from a few mishaps is indeed a frequently exciting release which comes warmly recommended to any established listener.