Say what you will about his hair-metal pedigree. Talk dismissively about his being firmly ensconced in the reality-TV wasteland (Supergroup, Celebrity Rap Superstar, I Married Sebastian Bach, etc.). The truth is, ex-Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach has a great fucking voice, a powerful, distinctive wail that's typically the best aspect of the albums and Broadway shows he's been involved with over the past 20 years. So it's gratifying to hear he hasn't lost a whit of his vocal power, range, or attitude on Angel Down, his first solo platter in eight years. Equally gratifying is the fact that while Bach and his band set the way-back metal machine to the Time Before Grunge, the disc generally hews closer to the lean, mean crush of Skid Row's Slave to the Grind than to their comparatively sappier self-titled debut. Still, the singer can't quite let go of the power ballad, bringing sexy Bach for "I Remember You," redux "By Your Side," and the makeup-free-Kiss riffs of closer "Falling Into You." No doubt many will flock to Angel Down for the three guest turns by longtime Bach pal Axl Rose; their dueling vocals are the best thing about an otherwise unremarkable cover of Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle." Everything really comes together, though, on the charging if unfortunately titled "(Love Is) a Bitchslap," where the pair howl, "I got the weight of the world on my back/I'll leave it all behind." That track houses enough fury and resolve to make you think of youth gone wild instead of faded hard-rock icons.
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