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Skid Row - Slave to the Grind

We continue the series of reviews "Class Of 91" in which we write to you about the masterpiece albums released in the amazing year of 1991. And today "Slave to the Grind", "Skid Row's" second studio album, which was released on June 11, 1991.

This album shows a change in the band's sound and direction. It becomes harder, rougher, and heavier, with tracks on the verge of speed metal, compared to the band's debut album released in 1989, which included hard rock hits and heavy metal ballads like "I Remember You", "18, and Life" and - “Youth Gone Wild”.

Writing topics have also become more mature. The band abandoned the softer and more romantic side, in favor of topics like politics, religion, and so on.

"Skid Row" can be said to have gone against the flow and in the opposite direction of other bands such as "Motley Crue", "Ratt", "Dokken" and more, that followed the trends in the genre at the time.

You could also say that the changes "Skid Row" went through on this album are similar to the ones "Pantera" went through on the album "Cowboys from Hell", not so long before. And if we called "Pantera" band members "Transformers of Metal" because of their ability to "transform" and reinvent themselves, then for us "Skid Row" should be nicknamed the "Werewolves of Heavy Metal". "Human-wolves" that are capable of changing form, from human to wolf, but this only happens on a full moon night. Why "Werewolves" and not "Transformers"? Because unlike "Pantera" this change that "Skid Row" went through on this album did not last long and evaporated further down the road.

So, to understand the similarity and the essential difference between "Skid Row" and "Pantera", you are invited to read the first of four episodes in the "Transformers of Metal" series.

These similarities to "Pantera" are not accidental at all. Sebastian Bach noted that "Skid Row" was looking for a change in sound similar to what "Pantera" did. They really liked "Pantera's" "Cowboys from Hell" album, which came out a year earlier, and later even invited "Pantera" for a joint tour. "Pantera's" audacity seemed to work for Sebastian Bach and his friends from Skid Row and led them to refuse the record company's demands to continue in a more commercial and softer direction. They even made a conscious decision to harden their sound and make it heavier, while going against the musical trends and the direction of similar bands.

At that time, a process of the two-way movement took place in the metal world. On one hand, bands that softened their sound were exposed to a new audience and on the other hand, those bands lost some of their old and loyal fans. It was in this niche that "Pantera" and "Skid Row" entered and filled the vacuum, each in its own field. They passed as a gathering force among all the fans of those bands and gathered all those who were disappointed with the bands they admired, while nurturing their veteran fans who only learned to appreciate them more.

This bet paid off very well for "Skid Row". There were a lot of metal bands that softened their sound at the time, flirting with mainstream. In contrast, bands like "Pantera", "Judas Priest" and "Skid Row" seemed to be almost the only ones at the time, moving in the opposite direction, and this movement against the stream only distinguished them and differentiated them from the others.

It turned out that although this album was heavier than its predecessor and included fewer "hits", it ended up being much more successful. Five singles were released from the album: "Monkey Business" which was released as the first single and became the most successful of it, the immortal "Slave to the Grind" which won cover versions of "Rage" and "Halestorm", "Wasted Time" written about Bach's friend's addiction "Guns N' Roses" drummer Steven Adler, and the songs "In a Darkened Room" and "Quicksand Jesus". While the band released more singles compared to the previous album, they were less successful and received less air and screen time compared to hits from the debut album.

"Skid Row" has proven that airtime on the radio or screen time on MTV does not necessarily relate to the end result and does not indicate the magnitude of the success of an album.

This album became the first heavy metal album in the 90s to reach number one on the US Billboard 200, it sold 134,000 copies in its first week of release and received a "double platinum" title with sales of over 2 million US copies alone. Keep in mind that the year the album came out is one of the greatest years in music, so these achievements are even more powerful. Mass of masterful albums was released that year, like "Nevermind", "Ten", "Use Your Illusion I & II", "Metallica (The Black Album)", "Achtung Baby", "Blood Sex Sugar Magik", "Out of Time", "Mama Said" and more made it difficult for "Skid Row" To stand out, and yet they came to these achievements with an excellent album.

Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo have proven that they write with supreme grace, and Sebastian Bach has shown the metal world that he is much more than a "beautiful face". The whole band has proven that although this is only their second album, they are mature, professional, and no less experienced than the oldest bands in the genre. One proof of this can be found in the way the theme song "Slave to the Grind" was recorded and sung. It was recorded live and mixed in less than an hour. What’s more, the version that found its place on the album is the demo version that the band recorded live in the studio. The band tried to recreate this to record the song with more advanced equipment, but were unable to reach the same vibe and drive that were in the demo recording, so this is the recording that eventually entered the album.

And now just listen to this beautiful album: Spotify, Apple Music

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