SLASH – Slash

After Slash left Guns N’ Roses, his career has been a somewhat bouncy road. His Slash’s Snakepit didn’t work out even though they released two good records – It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere (1995) and Ain’t Life Grand (2000) and neither did Velvet Revolver, despite two really good records. Velvet Revolver was the second time Slash, Duff and Matt Sorum had to go through crap with a lead singer, but for different reasons. So what to do? A solo record, of course. And as always with Slash, we could expect the unexpected. So, instead of forming a new solo band he decided to use different singers on each track, letting the singers, for the most part, write their own lyrics and melodies while he took a step back himself and play the guitar and writing the basics of the songs. A pretty smart thing to do. This way the album never gets boring or predictable. On the other hand, it sometimes gives you the feeling of a compilation record if the songs sounds too close the singers’ original bands. But if the music is this good, then who cares? Also, we always get a good treat of Slash’s guitar playing – which is never a bad thing.

Opener ”Ghost” with The Cult singer Ian Astbury at the mike opens up the album and it’s a great song. In many ways it sounds like Slash guesting on a Cult song. Astbury definitely was given a lot of room to write here. Ozzy appears on ”Crucify The Dead” and it sounds like a Ozzy track – heavy, dark and in a slower pace. It’s an ok tune, no more, no less.  Next up is Fergie from the Black Eyes Peas –  a very unpredictable and unexpected choice. Black Eyed Peas are a dance/pop band and nobody would have thought of Fergie as a rock chick, right? Well, Fergie nails “Beautiful Dangerous” rock-hard, sounding very natural in a hard rock environment and her voice fits the song like a glove. It’s a groovy piece with a chorus that sticks right off the bat. Maybe Fergie really is a closet hard rock woman. Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy, who will be touring with Slash, appears on two tracks, “Back From Cali” and ”Starlight”. The first is a med-tempo groover, quite heavy but still very melodic and a chorus that could move mountains. The latter is more in the vein of a ballad, also very catchy and has a refrain that very well could result in a hit. Kennedy is an amazing singer and will most likely be an asset to Slash’s touring band. Chris Cornell (ex- Soundgarden, Audioslave) is one of the most hyped lead singers right now and there’s a reason for that – the guy is brilliant. “Promise” is a more laid back number, more reminiscent to Cornell’s solo work than either of his old bands. It’s a very good song that comes in a mid pace but still with a groove – and on top, Cornell’s fantastic voice – great.

On ”By The Sword” we hear Andrew Stocksdale of Wolfmother. It’s a bit dark and heavy with big 70’s hard rock vibes. It’s a great song and if you’re a Wolfmother-fan, you’ll love it because it sounds exactly like Wolfmother. ”Gotten” is a ballad sung by one Adam Levine, the voice from Maroon 5. Now, there might be the odd song or two by his band that I like, but I’m no fan and quite frankly, I really don’t get his involvement here. The song is laid back and mellow but at the same time dull, forgettable and goes nowhere. Lemmy is a guy who would never put his voice on bad song and on ”Dr Alibi” he proves it. This is a real killer. And it sounds like Motörhead but with Slash’s signature guitar sound – can’t go wrong with that – and they don’t! “Watch This” is an instrumental that features Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and Duff McKagan. Doesn’t help. The song goes in one ear and out the other but when Kid Rock guests on ”I Hold On” things get better again. Kid Rock are an underrated singer who can write really catchy melodies and this pop song has really got the hooks. And no, Kid is not rapping all over some samples. Avenged Sevenfold are a band I’m not very familiar with, they play in the modern American metal-core hard rock league, a genre I’m not very big on, to tell the truth so I wasn’t sure what to expect of singer M Shadows and the song, “Nothing To Say”. Well, it’s a somewhat thrashy, riff-happy number with a pretty laid-back vocal melody. It’s not catchy as in radio-hit, but it sticks and I like the tune.

”Saint Is A Sinner Too” is a weak ballad sung by some guy named Rocco DeLucia. I’m totally clueless of who he is but he has a great voice, a bit melancholy and sad, but the song fades away more or less unnoticed. Iggy Pop closes the CD with a bang with ”We’re All Gonna Die”. Must be the best song Iggy has recorded in years. Not only is this little garage rocker both catchy and groovy, it also sports some really great lyrics – very Iggy. The bonus tracks I will review here (there are like four different editions of this album) are ”Mother Maria”, a mellow but great track sung by the fantastic Beth Hart – that voice sounds like it’s gonna crumble any second, so full of soul and ”Sahara”, a killer track sung in Japanese by Inaba Kashi. I have no idea what she’s singing about but it sure sounds like the real deal. There’s also a new take on Guns N’ Roses’ old hit “Paradise City”, done by dopey rappers Cypress Hill together with Fergie, once again. I prefer the original 24/7 but the tune isn’t all that bad. Especially Fergie’s vocals works brilliantly.

This album is easily the best Slash has done since the glory days of Guns N’ Roses and it’s really cool with all the different singers. On the other hand, the case here is just how I described it above, this really does sound like a compilation album. I can’t really get a grip on how Slash sounds as a solo artist here because every song really could be an original by the singer in question’s own band with Slash guesting on guitar – Fergie is the exception. Otherwise it has mostly great songs and a real cool production. Yes, there are some fillers but nowhere close to sink the album. And hearing Myles Kennedy here, I hope that it is he and Slash who is going to form the next supergroup. Top-hats off!

7/10

Tracklist

1. Ghost (feat. Ian Astbury)
2. Crucify The Dead (feat. Ozzy Osbourne)
3. Beautiful Dangerous (feat. Fergie)
4. Back From Cali (feat Myles Kennedy)
5. Promise (feat. Chris Cornell)
6. By The Sword (feat. Andrew Stockdale)
7. Gotten (feat. Adam Levine)
8. Doctor Alibi (feat. Lemmy Kilmister)
9. Watch This (feat. Dave Grohl & Duff McKagan)
10. I Hold On (feat. Kid Rock)
11. Nothing To Say (feat. M. Shadows)
12. Starlight (feat. Myles Kennedy)
13. Saint Is A Sinner Too (feat. Rocco DeLuca)
14. We’re All Gonna Die (feat. Iggy Pop)
15. Mother Maria (feat. Beth Hart)
16. Sahara (feat. Koshi Inaba)
17. Paradise City (feat. Cypress Hill & Fergie)

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