The 1990s were a tough time for a young Metal fan and these are the Top 10 albums of the era that helped me get through it! If I knew then what I know now things would maybe be different but these are all still amazing albums from that decade.
Skid Row made mincemeat of the “difficult 2nd album” challenge with their masterpiece, Slave to the Grind. Released at the turn of the decade this album was essential listening throughout the 90s and still is.
The early 90s were a difficult time for the so-called Hair Metal bands that fared so well in the 80s. If Metallica’s stark real-life horror and Guns N’ Roses’ alluring and dangerous depiction of Hollywood “glamour” hadn’t been game-changing enough, alternative music was taking over and Grunge was rearing its ugly head. Skid Row’s answer to this was to come out fighting, channeling new levels of fury and power into their already accomplished Glam Metal.
I was a fan of the self-titled album but when this was released I was taken aback. What happened to this band? It still sounded like Skid Row but I was not expecting this band to come up with the massive palm-muted chug of the title-track. This was all very intense and, to be honest, I was a little bit intimidated!
There is a startling array of musical influence in here. Chunky down-tuned riffs cut into clean Hendrix Funk on Creepshow. The more familiar Glam territory of Psycho Love is interrupted by some evocative, mellow psychedelia. Fast paced Ramones style chargers jostle with wistful and heartfelt balladry. The guitar duo of Dave “Snake” Sabo and Scotti Hill are also more assured and tasteful, confident enough to reign in the 80s flash which would not have fitted here. The album is extremely well paced and the songs are skilfully written and arranged.
The real X-factor in Slave to the Grind is vocalist Sebastian Bach. He is on winning form throughout this record, displaying a range and sense of dynamics that ensures the album crackles with energy. On The Threat the phrase “wrecking ball” is initially sung with a melodic, whoah-oh delivery while, before the 2nd chorus, the same phrase is given an exciting full roar. His wild performance, ad-libs, wobbly vibrato and unhinged crescendos come across as raw, natural and naively enthusiastic.
This was one of those albums that is so consistently good that every track is vying for your attention. Each song has, at some point, been my favourite from the album and there aren’t many albums I can say that about. Slave to the Grind is easily the best record of the 90s and one of my Top 10 all-time favourites.