Just for the record, I love when older bands embrace new technology and marketing strategies that make their material seem fresh for new and veteran fans alike. Enter Skid Row, who are in the midst of a year-long campaign of releasing small EPs rather than a huge album all at once. These guys have been at the altar of hard rock for 25 years and their willingness to stay current without sacrificing what the band embodies is a real testament to why they are still here.
United World Rebellion: Chapter Two captures the band with a youthful jolt right from the start. You have to remember that this is a band that has sold 20 million albums since its inception, so to record an EP with a “back to basics” mentality is a refreshing tone. “We are the Dammed” is the first track that includes classic guitar solos, chanting and lyrics sung by lead singer Johnny Solinger that will be catchy for audiences to get behind. One of the strengths of this Rebellion is that the instruments have that classic feel, but do not sound dated. It will bridge that gap between a fan that’s been listening to Skid Row for years and a younger metal fan. That’s a testament to the very organic writing sessions that bassist Rachel Bolan has spoken about.
Skid Row does not rest on its laurels or try to duplicate its pass successes – rather, they build on them. “Damnation Army” almost has a thrash/punk feeling to it. The synergy between guitarists Scotti Hill and Dave “The Snake” Sabo is as strong as ever as they trade parts of guitar solos. Drummer Rob Hammersmith, who is the newest of all the band members, sounds like he’s been in the fold for years paired with the lively bass of Rachel Bolan. Structure-wise, the songs follow a standard format of verse-chorus-verse-chorus and solo, but it hearkens back to the days of classic rock where songs were constructed more like a jam session. Sometimes, you just want to play air guitar to a solo from your favorite band and there are moments in Rebellion: Chapter Two that you can definitely do that.
“Catch Your Fall” switches gears in a ballad-style song which shows that the band still has range. With a powerful vocal performance by Solinger, this may be one of the strongest songs on the seven-song EP. Queen are one of my favorite classic bands and to hear Skid Row have a slightly different take on “Sheer Heart Attack” was a welcome surprise. United World Rebellion: Chapter Two further supplants Skid Row as an enduring band that is striving to push their limits and get better. There is no need for a changing of the guard in this instance, especially where there is potential to be built on – that’s saying something 25 years in.