From a cover painting by his artist father David Bierk to songs that chart a pathway to adulthood, Sebastian Bach's Child Within the Man is partly about reconciling with the past. Not that the former Skid Row singer has regrets or a keenly wistful sense of nostalgia, or at least any he shares across the 11 tracks on his first album in 10 years, but this is about as personal as the man who was recently disguised as a giant tiki cup on The Masked Singer has ever gotten on record.

Chalk it up to getting older and uncovering a social awareness that was all but buried three decades ago when Bach was leading the controversial New Jersey-based hard-rock band. These days, Bach is just at home on the Broadway stage and pushing back against political fascists. He still has the amps cranked to 11, and his heavy metal screams are straight from 1991, but now lyrics such as "Everybody bleeds, everybody burns, everybody drowns" have semi-healing connotations.

That line comes from "Everybody Bleeds," the opening track on Child Within the Man and a highlight. By the time the album ends with the lighters-in-the-air "To Live Again," Bach, with help from guitar-playing guests John 5, Steve Stevens and Orianthi, finds a sort of redemption, or maybe it's vindication, through song.

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This is music with roots in the late-'80s Sunset Strip scene, caterwauling guitars linked hand-in-hand with larynx-shredding vocals and an air of forced doom hanging over almost every note. Lyrically, Child Within the Man tramples often-familiar ground ("Now I'm kicking ass and taking names," he declares in "Freedom," "Stand for what you believe in," he contends in "[Hold On] To the Dream"), but Bach's conviction to them remains undeterred, words falling out of his mouth like they're doing so for the first time.

Perhaps they are. As a pep talk to himself, as well as personal stock-taking as Bach enters his late 50s, Child Within the Man suggests it's possible to get older without giving up youthful defiance. Bach's voice has lost none of its rage or range, even in the highest registers, giving the impression that there's more at stake in the debt-settling "Vendetta" and "F.U." than there probably is. "Try, turn the page, leave behind the stale mistakes," he sings in the LP's closing seconds, more as advice to himself than to anyone else who may hear it.

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Gallery Credit: Bryan Rolli

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