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ABachalypse Now

Frontiers (2013)
Rating: 8/10

Bach is back! Sebastian Bach hits the racks again with a new live DVD / CD combo. For those of you who’ve never seen the man live, or have done but are gagging for another sweat fest, then ABachalypse Now should quench your thirst.

The DVD features a trio of fantastic live shows, each one showcasing not only some of Skid Row’s classic cuts, but also a smattering of Bach rockers. The first show (filmed at the Hellfest in France on June 16th 2012) is a ten track affair opening with the bruising ‘Slave To The Grind’. Bach’s band are in full throttle from the get go. As expected Sebastian hits all the right notes and is the perfect frontman, whipping the afternoon crowd into a frenzy as Nick Sterling and Johnny Chromatic crunch the guitars.

Bach’s renditions of his previous band’s ‘Big Guns’, ‘Piece Of Me’ and ‘Youth Gone Wild’ are far more impressive live, Jason Christopher’s bass bubbles and shudders throughout while Bobby Jarzombek’s drums are crisp and jarring at the same time. However, Bach really shines with the swooning rock ballads ‘18 & Life’ and ‘I Remember You’, and although I was disappointed not to hear the superb ‘By Your Side’ from Angel Down (2007), the leather-clad rock god comes into his own with the bludgeoning ‘American Metalhead’, without doubt one of his best metal anthems.

The second live gig was filmed at Club Nokia in Los Angeles on August 2nd 2012. It’s a nine tracker opening with the battering ‘Big Guns’, but again Bach shines with his own material, particularly ‘(Love Is) A Bitch Slap’. Throughout the gig Seb and band are joined by a handful of guests including the not so impressive Jinxx from Black Veil Brides. Even so, this is still a great gig, and due to the fact it is indoors has the best sound quality of the three concerts.

But I’m a sucker for a raw live performance, and for me it’s the June 24th 2012 gig at Graspop, Belgium which stands out. Bach and company hit the stage during a torrential late morning downpour. Their sound affected by the wind and hail, the band soldier on, battering the rain-soaked crowd with formidable renditions of ‘Kicking & Screaming’, ‘Dirty Power’ and ‘Tunnelvision’, all plucked from Bach’s 2011 studio opus Kicking & Screaming.

Bach is on fine form despite the weather and timing of the slot which he makes joking references to, and although Nick Sterling is dressed in his winter warmers – complete with shades – the glitches of the sound seem to add to the atmosphere. Watching Sebastian wade through the puddles and pools is hilarious, and again ‘American Metalhead’ comes to the fore, raging harder than any storm, while ‘Monkey Business’ is equally stirring as a slab of molten metal.

If you ever doubted Bach’s ability as a frontman then these three live performances should confirm what I’ve always thought, that Sebastian Bach has one of the best voices in metal, whatever the conditions. If anything, this release should have been titled Three Shades Of Bach due to the varying climate, and fair play to him for having the balls to put three very different live gigs to DVD. My only negative is that we get to hear three versions of ‘Big Guns’, ‘18 & Life’, ‘I Remember You’ et al, and maybe some would have preferred separate snippets of the live shows condensed into one package. But this is a minor quibble.

As for the CDs, well these are simply audio versions of the Hellfest and Los Angeles shows, but there’s nothing better than the Sebastian Bach band visual experience.

While it’s always been important for Bach to belt out renditions of those Skid Row classics, I do much prefer his solo stuff. But I guess you can’t make everyone happy all of the time. However, ABachalypse Now is a sturdy package that’ll leave your mouth watering for another studio album.

Neil Arnold