Give ‘Em Hell is only the third solo album of all original material from heavy rock and metal singer Sebastian Bach; quite the statistic when you consider his 25 years and counting recording career that started with Skid Row’s critically acclaimed and hugely successful 1989 debut album.
But then Bach has been a busy boy – since departing Skid Row the powerful vocalist has been involved in a number of projects including Broadway show performances s of Jekyll & Hyde, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the lead role in a national touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
It wasn’t until 2007 that Bach delivered his first studio album of all new material (Bring ‘Em Bach Alive! was a half-live, half-studio affair while Bach 2: Basics was a collection of covers) but in rock-metal terms Angel Down wasn’t too shabby – it was acclaimed as one of the best metal albums of that year.
Give ‘Em Hell is another outstanding release from one of the best screamer vocalists out there and while it has the same high-energy and intensity of its predecessor, Kicking & Screaming, it doesn’t have the same rawness; Give ‘Em Hell has a melodic cladding attached to its metal framework and that’s the perfect construction for Sebastian Bach’s vocals.
'Hell Inside My Head' is big, brash Sebastian Bach but with a powerful hook in the chorus that resonates around your head as the band – guitarist Devon Bronson, drummer Bobby Jarzombek and ex-Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan – pile-drive the mid-tempo metal opener along. 'Harmony' is a big-riffed chunk of heavy rock with a melodic chorus that, as the title suggests, is in harmony with the rest of the song. And that’s the successful trick that Give ‘Em Hell, for the most part, pulls off – the album is a mix of harmonic hooks and metallic crescendo, high-octane vocals and thunderous riffs, with more traditional screamer-based metal covered by the likes of 'Dominator' and 'Disengaged.'
The obligatory power-metal ballad makes a solid appearance by way of 'Had Enough' and for acoustic-based contrast there’s a cover of April Wine’s 'Rock ‘N’ Roll is a Vicious Game.' The latter is a perfect lyrical fit for Sebastian Bach having been under the stage – and media – spotlight since before he was 21 and living the rock and roll lifestyle to the full. Bach’s interpretation of the April Wine classic is a far heavier but fairly faithful rendition of the original; it’s also the best cover the singer has recorded.
In 2007 when the First Edition of One in a Million was made available (this writer’s eBook Argument Paper for Steve Perry being the greatest ever pop & rock counter tenor), contributor Jason Galu and the author argued that the narrow musical genre Sebastian Bach operated in, along with vocal (in)discipline in the live environment, meant he could only ever be a runner-up in the rock tenor championships.
But Bach’s raw power and sonorous vocal made him a serious contender and it’s a testament to his strength of pipes and determination that he's still belting out the notes with much the same strength as he did 25 years ago.
Give ‘Em Hell isn’t just Bach’s strongest and most accessible solo album to date; it showcases just why he’s regarded as one of the best melodic metal rock tenors. And why he is rated highly in critical appraisals such as One in a Million.