We all know about Sebastian Bach's past with Skid Row, the hit songs, the break-up and so on. After Sebastian and the Skids went their separate ways they both continued to release music. Skid Row got a replacement singer in Johnny Salinger and Bach became a solo artist. Bach's true first solo effort Angel Down (2007) was brutally heavy in terms of what you would expect from the original voice of Skid Row AND it delivered. 2011's Kicking and Screaming feels like a natural evolution from Angel Down. While it's still somewhat similar to Angel Down the sound and overall feel is different largely in part to Sebastian's new young lead guitarist Nick Sterling who wrote a good portion of the album, and provides some killer riffs and guitar playing. Some say it's a bit on the generic side and it may be but even so it surpasses a lot of what other artists are doing today. At first not many songs stand out but with repeated listens the album gets better and you get more enjoyment out of it. It has a current sound to it much like Angel Down had but it also has teeth.
The title tracks starts the album, it's easy to see why it was picked as the single as it's a fast, aggressive rocker that's probably the closest thing the classic Skid Row of old. So far everybody seems to be raving about "Tunnelvision" and besides being one of the heaviest songs here it also manages to be one of the best with some cool lyrics thrown in courtesy of Sterling. "Caught In A Dream" is more upbeat rock'n'roll and is undeniably catchy, excellent track. "As Long As I've Got The Music" is what it's all about for some of us. I know for me I'm ok as long as I have music and this song reflects perfectly how I feel and how the band feels it seems. "I'm Alive" is on the softer side, not quite a ballad, yet not quite a heavy rocker. I think it's one of the better songs on Kicking And Screaming. "Dream Forever" is another song that stands out for me. The lyrics, Sebastian's voice it all works incredibly well on this track. "Wishin'" is the only full blown ballad on K&S, and it's a terrific one that has Bas deliver a great vocal performance. If you loved the Skid Row ballads "18 and Life", "I Remember You", "Quicksand Jesus", "Wasted Time" this is as close as it gets these days, a powerful ballad. I'm not a big fan of "One Good Reason" for instance and I find "Dance On Your Grave" to be a little too much on the generic side (although it has a good riff going on) but I would say that the majority of the album is great and worth listening to for fans of Sebastian and Skid Row because there's some really good stuff happening here.
I picked up the special edition, the digipack with a DVD for a dollar more simply because it looked cooler than the crystal case and that price? Hey why not. There are 3 music videos and 4 songs filmed from different live shows along with a "making of" which are nice additions. The video for the title track was already released by the time the album came out but having the chance to see the next two videos ("Tunnelvision" and "I'm Alive") before they air on TV is pretty neat. There's a bonus track on the digipack version "Jumpin' Off The Wagon" which has a very country-rock feel to it. There's definitely some country elements in this track but it's also a heavy track and it's just a cool track that I think doesn't really fit with the rest of the album in terms of style and theme, glad to see it included here.
It's a good modern album really, it has a current sound to it but then again so did Angel Down and that was an excellent album. It still works here and it's much better than anything Skid Row release without Sebastian. If you're expecting Kicking And Screaming to sound like the old Skid Row records you've come to the wrong place because not only have times changed but Sebastian has matured and life goes on. But the good news is you can still listen to those amazing Skid Row albums all you want. I don't think it surpasses Angel Down, it's not as heavy and isn't as strong an album but K&S is still a very good album there's no arguing that. The young Nick Gaines does a great job on guitar here and his contributions on K&S are important. Here's hoping for another Sebastian Bach album with Gaines. Sebastian said on an episode of That Metal Show: "I'm not trying to change the wheel, I just want to put music on your Ipod that goes along with Skid Row...". And he's right; he isn't changing the formula or anything, just delivering good rock n roll songs for his fans. 4/5 stars.