Friday, 5 September 2014

Skid Row's 'Rise of the Damnation Army: United World Rebellion - Chapter Two' - EP Review

Last year, Skid Row returned from a recording hiatus with the five track EP United World Rebellion - Chapter One, a review of which can be read here. It was the band's strongest release for quite a while and saw a return of the 1980s-style hard rock that made the band so popular in the first place. It was the first in a series of three promised EPs, and the second of which Rise of the Damnation Army: United World Rebellion - Chapter Two (snappy title..) was released earlier this month. Soundwise, the new EP is very similar to the previous one, retaining the big guitar riffs and frontman Johnny Solinger's powerful vocal performance. It is even structured in the same way as it's predecessor, with a more relaxing ballad slap-bang in the middle of the EP between four heavier tracks. Bassist Rachel Bolan and guitarist Dave 'Snake' Sabo have once again written all the songs, and their writing partnership once again proves to be successful. The songs are not quite as strong as on the previous EP, where there is nothing quite as anthemic as Let's Go or Kings of Demolition. The songs here are still pretty strong however and contain the spirit of Skid Row through and through. Being the second release in a series of three, I suspect that the final installment will be released around this time next year. Along with Solinger, Bolan and Sabo; the band also consists of guitarist Scotti Hill and drummer Rob Hammersmith.

We are the Damned gets things off to a good start with an urgent hard rock riff and a chunky riff that Solinger owns with his thick vocals. The music here is simple, but effective with a nice, pumping chorus that sticks in the brain easily. There is a nice heavy blues style guitar solo midway through the song too, that helps to raise the melody levels. This sort of song is bread and butter for Skid Row, and that is why their fans love them. Give it the Gun is the best song on the EP by far. A chugging bassline and some excellent bluesy riffing gets the song going before the verses get going with a really solid and catchy main riff. There is a big early Mötley Crüe vibe going on throughout this song and the punky chorus is a real fist-punching moment. Solinger really owns this song, as his gritty vocal delivery really fits the angsty riffing and punk attitude. Catch Your Fall is the EP's ballad. The 1980s vibe continues here and sounds like the power ballads of old. I do not think Solinger's vocals fit with the quieter songs as well as they do with the heavier ones, but he does admirably and puts enough emotion into his delivery to make it convincing. The mix of acoustic and electric guitars works well to create a good atmosphere. No ballad is complete without a guitar solo, and a few fluid note runs help Sabo and Hill to shine. Damnation Army gets back to the rock with a nice distorted bassline and some good early Guns N' Roses-esque heavy blues riffing. The chorus is the song's strongest moment as Solinger manages to keep up well with the fast pace and deliver a rousing vocal. There is also an excellent guitar solo in this song that mixes extreme note bends with faster moments. It is another high point on the EP, and is my second favourite song after Give it the Gun. Zero Day is the EP's last song and it is a much more mid-paced rocker that focuses on a big, grinding riff which seems heavier because of the slower pace. It is probably the least interesting song on the EP, but it is still enjoyable as the main riff just sounds so good! Overall this EP, the second in the series of three, is a solid release from a much-loved hard rock band. I am sure it will not convert many new fans to the band, but existing fans are sure to enjoy it.

The EP was released on 6th August 2014 via UDR GmbH. Below is the band's promotional lyric video for We are the Damned.

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