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Label: Reigning Phoenix Music

Date: May 10th, 2024

You cannot emulate being young and reckless. A “youth gone wild”, if you will. You’ll end up a washed-out rockstar, like so many before. Ask Mr. Vince Neil. You also cannot play cool with the kids. Just ask Mr. Rob Halford. But also, while on the subject of Mr. Halford, you can embrace yourself and let yourself enter the new millennium, accept that the rules have changed and apply them to what you do best. Bloody hell, what a killer record “Resurrection” is…

Similar can be claimed about the new record from the last remaining musketeer of the hair metal heyday. Once again, I will call your attention to Halford’s “Resurrection”. Not only is “Child Within the Man” close to the modern production of the mentioned record, but the spirit is very much alike to the Metal God’s debut solo album. It’s got the mixture of old hard rock and heavy metal woven in its texture, with just the massiveness of soundscape to remind us that we’re deep into the 21st century. I mean, if “Slave to the Grind” had this bombastic of a production… Forget about Metallica’s self-titled megalith (released only a couple of months later).

Technology advanced, undoubtedly, making “Child Within the Man” possible. But those are just the decorations. I’m sure all of you are aware that there’s really no use flogging a dead horse. In other words, producers are no magicians and without the fine songwriting they are useless. That’s where the class comes in and I return to the opening lines of this review. You cannot be fifty six years old and write another pummeling ode to youth as was “Makin’ a Mess”. Nor did I expect it. Having read the man’s autobiography, I knew Mr. Bach is a grown man who’s long way away from a typical midlife crisis cry for attention. And the press release confirms what is written in “18 and Life on Skid Row”. Sebastian Bach, on the new record, sounds just like he mentioned there. Like someone who, ten years after his previous record, just remembered how fun it was to write and perform honest, hard and heavy rock ‘n’ roll.

Another aspect of “Child Within the Man”, which reflects the maturity of its main composer, can be found within the lyrics. Though occasionally ridden with traditional rock clichés, they still show a man with substantial experience with stellar highs and rock bottoms (again a referral to the book), who’s got something to say. He’s dealing with life as best he can, more than aware of his surroundings, as well as life’s own traps. That way being true to what honestly lays inside, rather than seeking confirmation of long gone years. Plus, he tends to be rather optimistic whenever possible. Naturally, in being honest, Mr. Bach will not be putting pink glasses on his fans, so there’s enough anxiety, fear but also anger on “Child Within the Man”. Much like the child in the title, he calls them as he sees and feels them.

Musically, if you’ve followed through Skid Row’s opus and continued with Mr. Bach’s solo works, this album will come as no surprise. It’s the way Sebastian Bach has gotten to know music as a child. The songs are structured just as they were in the glory days when this type of music went from smoke-filled, alcohol-fueled bars to the greatest stadiums across the globe. They are based on dynamic guitar riffing barrage, rock-hard rhythm and as catchy as all hell vocals. Yes, it teems with concrete riffs and megalomaniacal choruses. Thinking back to when “Slippery When Wet”, “Appetite for Destruction” or, well, “Skid Row” came out. Those kinds of singalong friendly hits even your mom knows by heart (please check, maybe she’s dated one or two of those singers). You can say that easily about the opening four tracks. Then I’d pick “Future of Youth” (what a topic to choose, right on!). “F. U.” is also among those, and no, it doesn’t stand for what you think it does. “To Live Again” falls in the same category. I must be honest too and say that, to my ears, there’s a couple songs more than was necessary on this album, but even with those, this is a strong outing for a hero who has begun his journey thirty five years ago.

The album itself is a sort of a compilation of Mr. Bach’s personal taste. It goes from ironclad “(Hold On) to the Dream”, through “What Do I Got to Lose” which sounds like Aerosmith turned heavy metal, “Future of Youth” in all its hair metal glory, all the way to a full-blown power ballad “To Live Again”. Sugarcoated with the inimitable voice which has apparently gone through serious training to stay almost as wild as it was when those chords first came close to a microphone. Very little has been lost and even that is hard to find with delivery that is downright impeccable. Years of musical theater are absolutely paying dividends to all the fans.

A well-rounded record needs a fitting cover and it can’t be more fitting than a merger of two paintings by Mr. Bach’s father. One of him as almost a toddler, running free in the grassy yard and another where our hero is portrayed as an arena-filling world-class rockstar. The two generate the point of this recording. Though a man, set in his ways, Sebastian Bach is still a kid in love with rock ‘n’ roll, looking very much forward to holding his new album, just as he did with Kiss back in his youth. “Child Within the Man” is a conclusive proof!

 

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