Album Review: Skid Row - Slave to the Grind

Skid Row is an American "hairvy" metal band formed in 1986 in Toms River, New Jersey. The original lineup consisted of vocalist Sebastian Bach, guitarist Dave "Snake" Sabo, guitarist Scotti Hill, bassist Rachel Bolan and drummer Rob Affuso.  The band burst onto the metal scene in 1989 with their acclaimed self-titled debut and the strength of singles "Youth Gone Wild", "18 and Life", and "I Remember You".

Their second album, Slave to the Grind, was released in 1991 and was the first heavy metal album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. You read that right. The FIRST metal album to debut at #1.

Skid Row has always been a band that came along at the wrong time. Their musicianship, muscular sound and song arrangements were always just a bit heavier than their contemporaries, which if you remember the late 80's to early 90's consisted of the likes of Motley Crue, Warrant, Cinderella, get the gist.

Axemen Sabo and Hill wrote heavy riffs, layered rhythms and intricate solos. Bach, was an electric frontman with pipes closer to the likes of a young Phil Anselmo, prime Chris Cornell or even Ronnie James Dio, rather than who he was compared to - Vince Neil or Bret Michaels.

All of that said - Slave to the Grind hit hard on the charts, was surprisingly heavy, and many of the album's tracks stand up today. But once it hit, it was all but forgotten. Perhaps it was buried by Metallica's Black Album, or Nirvana's Nevermind. Commercially, hair metal was at its end and Skid Row was immediately categorized.

Back to STTG.

The album featured the singles “Monkey Business”, “In a Darkened Room”, and “The Threat”. Slave to the Grind was a departure from the band’s glam metal sound of their debut album, and featured a more aggressive and hard-hitting sound.T

"Monkey Business" is a hell of an opener. Bluesy and heavy all at once. The album's second track, “Slave to the Grind”, is an up-tempo hard rocker with a catchy chorus. Other highlights include the ballads "In a Darkened Room", and "Wasted Time".

A few other surprise highlights include "The Threat", "Riot Act", and "Mudkicker" - all short, angry hitters that you'll be headbanging to instantly.

With almost all releases from these types of bands, there is some filler. "Get the Fuck Out" was amazing when I was 15. It didn't hold up. "Creepshow" is also forgettable.

Overall, "Slave to the Grind" is a forgotten gem from a complicated era in heavy music. Go back with fresh ears and give it a listen. You'll find it to be heavier and deeper than you might remember.


1. Monkey Business

2. Slave to the Grind

3. The Threat

4. Quicksand Jesus

5. Psycho Love

6. Get the Fuck Out

7. Livin' On a Chain Gang

8. Creepshow

9. In a Darkened Room

10. Riot Act

11. Mudkicker

12. Wasted Time

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