For many years it was very quiet around former shooting stars SKID ROW, with the split from singer Seb Bach and the decreasing commercial success the Americans vanished from the magazines and therefore also the focus of the fans. I had already written them off completely, but with "Thickskin" we now have a new sign of life from the Jersey based band.
The biggest change right from the start: Johnny Solinger is behind the mic and it definitely is not an easy task to replace a Seb Bach. But that should not keep you from approaching SKID ROW's latest with an open mind, so let's dive into the opener "New Generation" and hoy, this does not sound like "18 And Life" anymore at all, a lot more groove and quite a bit more modern the whole thing! Especially in the guitars there is a lot more of the newer American sound, no catchy hooks anymore, everything sounds somewhat dirtier. And also Solinger's voice is an edge rougher, he can sing, no question, but he also fully blends into the newer direction of SKID ROW.
Let's see, if it continues like that... Not fully, because "Ghost" right after bears the spirit of the former greats of the Americans, catchy, melodic, with good vocals, sounds more like my thing. "Swallow Me (The Real You)" then moves into a more melodic Alternative sound and also "Born A Beggar" is more Alternative Rock, with good melodies and in the guitars this alternative touch, hm, has "Ghost" been a little "slip" into old times? Still a very good song.
The more or less title track "Thick Is The Skin" then combines the alternative sound with the groove of the opener, while "See You Around" hits the "old" curb again, not fully a ballad, but still with a lot of feeling, strong track! "Mouth Of Voodoo" again mixes the alternative groove with some reminiscences of the sound that had been SKID ROW back then, "One Light" is another very good semi ballad, but even during it one anxiously awaits "I Remember You Two", remembering the great ballad off their self titled debut.
Well, one thing you definitely cannot accuse the band of, that they just re-wrote the same song, because it IS the same song, but it is not a ballad anymore… The rhythm and the guitars are rather Punk Rock. That the song itself is great, no doubt, but with this version I cannot decide, if it is blasphemy or cool. During listening to the song, this changes continuously, so you'll have to decide for yourself.
As you can see, "Thickskin" has turned out to be an album, which partly takes up the old sound again, in bigger parts, though has a lot more groove and a more modern sound of the American school, which is not fully welcomed by me. For one most of the songs sound really good and all, but somehow I have a different sound saved under SKID ROW. In the end the fans will decide, if the "new" SKID ROW will have success with it, either the Americans have hit exactly the right mix out of new and old or they have wandered off too much from the original SKID ROW sound to still be accepted. I am hanging somewhere in between… (Online October 25, 2003)