You don’t have to like Sebastian Bach (the person) to like Angel Down. He may be a bit of a blow-hard, but damn, he made another great album. By my counting this is his third legitimately great album (Slave to the Grind and Subhuman Race being the other two.)
Baz’s voice is still powerful, and he still has most of his range. In fact, after the disappointing Bring ‘Em Bach Alive I thought it was all over for the voice. Not so! Angel Down proves it. Bach’s still got the goods. He’s got more character in his voice than he did when he was 19 or 20. More grit. But his lungs are as powerful as ever, absolutely mind-bogglingly so.
This was (by far) the heaviest album that Baz had made to date. This is way heavier than anything Skid Row has done with or without him. Bach’s working with great people on this, including Roy Z and members of the old Halford band. It doesn’t get much more metal than this. It’s heavier than most Priest albums, and the songs are all strong. They won’t sink into your skull on first listen, or even the third. It’s a challenging listen, the pummeling of guitars and drums are constant and brutal. Having said that, eventually the melodies, riffs, and Bach’s vocals will worm their way into your brain like a virus.
Highlights for this listener included:
- “(Love Is) A Bitchslap”, which you may have heard in preview form on season 7 of Trailer Park Boys. This smoker is a duet with Baz’s buddy W. Axl Rose! You can literally smell the rubber burning.
- “Back In The Saddle”, the powerful Aero-cover, and another duet with the reclusive Axl Rose. To hear Axl and Baz singing together again is awesome; two rock gods shattering the glass and gargling with it after.
- “You Don’t Understand” with its patented Roy Z guitar riff (which really is just a patented Maiden riff).
- “Falling Into You”, a Skid-Row-esque ballad along the lines of “Wasted Time” with some gorgeous strings (synth?) and guitar harmonies. Another standout ballad is “By Your Side”, along similar lines.
- The brutally heavy “American Metalhead”. Ignore the fact that Baz lived most his childhood in Canada and considers himself Canadian. I can appreciate that singing “Canadian Metalhead” wouldn’t have the same impact to his core (American) record buyers. Either way, it’s a brutal assault of the ears, as Baz screams his way out of your headphones.
- “Angel Down”, the title track, which starts atmospheric like a Sabbath opener before hitting that pummeling Pantera riff; Baz ripping the vocal cords again.
14 songs, and that’s just a handful of favourites listed above. There are lots of great moments on this CD. I can’t praise it enough, songwriting and performance wise. It really surprised me. I didn’t expect something this solid. Top it off with another of his dad’s paintings on the cover, and this was the comeback album that fans were hoping for but never expecting.
Think you can handle it? Buy Angel Down.