May 21st is rapidly approaching us, which is when you can get your hands on the next Classic Rock Fan Pack which contains the new studio album, 'Apocalyptic Love', from Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. It's been two years since his first solo release and I was eager to find out how the two albums compare.
So who is in Slash's band these days? Well, after the undoubtedly successful union of Slash and Myles Kennedy, not only is he vocalist and rhythm guitarist but he's also responsible for writing the lyrics, with Slash recently admitting in an interview with Rolling Stone: "As far away from lyric writing as I can get, the better".
Todd Kerns, from Age of Electric and Las Vegas resident 'supergroup' Sin City Sinners looks after bass duties and the band is completed by Brent Fitz on drums, who has pretty much played with everyone in this genre of music.
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This line up should be no surprise to any Slash fan, as it's been his touring band for a while and because of that, the tightness and consistency is the first thing you notice when playing 'Apocalyptic Love'. I love the first album 'Slash', but it did feel slightly disjointed because of all the different styles and musicians, but this really feels like an album from a band that are working closely together to please the fans.
So enough of the intro, as I'm sure you're all dying to know what the album is like, so here's my view. You couldn't get a better opening track as 'Apocalyptic Love' has everything to keep you happy. There's a slight 'Appetite For Destruction' feel to it when you first hear Slash's fret work, but don't worry as it quickly turns into an album of this century when Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators add their parts.
What's great about it is that Slash's guitaring is evident, but not dominant and the rest of the band are allowed to shine through. A stunning way to set the tone for the rest of the album, which will undoubtedly feature highly in many 'Album of 2012' lists.
'One Last Thrill' is an interesting song as it feels to me that it has elements of G N' R, Slash's Snakepit and Velvet Revolver, with the added benefit of a unique soulfulness to Myles' voice. A song you think you've heard before, but not!
And the next track, 'Standing In The Sun', has the dirtiest bass line lyrically synchronised to build you up to a chorus that just makes you want to be standing in in a field at a festival, beer in hand, singing along with all your mates. And then – POW – Slash's signature solo which makes you feel like it's 1988 all over again.
'You're A Lie' needs no description after heavy rotation on rock radio, and in case you've not seen it yet, the video is at the bottom of this article. 'No More Heroes' is a very interesting track that feels fresh in comparison to the others so far. It showcases every member of this band and even though you can tell it's Slash, you can also hear the parts from everyone else, which when you have such a superstar in your midst is sometimes hard to pull off.
Slash claims that this song was inspired by some music he heard in a hotel in Spain, but don't expect anything Flamenco with 'Halo' - this is hard rock and nothing more. I'd say 'We Will Roam' is far more commercially accessible than any of the other tracks. Quite interestingly, most of the album was written while on the road, whereas Slash wrote this at home in LA.
Slash winds down the song nicely, leading you to the next track which at first sounds like it's going to be a ballad, with some beautiful classical guitaring to kick things off with. The serenity is broken by some modern day Metal, with an added ingredient at times that is hard to define. The closest analogy I can think of is 'Variations' the classical/rock fusion album by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
'Anastasia' certainly is the most intriguing track on the album, and one that I can't stop listening to. So much so that I couldn't help but try and find out more about the classical inspiration and low and behold, it's almost certainly going to sound like 'Variations, as it allegedly samples Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
After all of this mayhem, it's time to bring the tempo right down with the mellow 'Not For Me' which has enough heaviness to stop it from being classed as a ballad. 'Bad Rain' was one of the first songs off the album that Slash played on VH1's That Metal Show in October last year and certainly got people excited about the album. According to Slash he recorded this on Pro Tools on his laptop, and was something he heard in his head, and the end result is pretty much how he first heard it.
'Hard And Fast' does exactly what it says on the tin! It's hard, it's fast and, well quite frankly your typical hard rock song. 'Far And Away' is a classic ballad and beautifully crafted, filled with plenty of bluesy licks. I find it odd that they didn't finish with this track, as it feels like a nice way to close things of. Instead the final track on the album release is 'Shots Fired', an uplifting hard rock song which takes no prisoners.
For those of you wondering whether the two bonus tracks are just fillers and not worth the extra money for the fan pack, then I can tell you they are. 'Carolina' has Slash's old favourite talk box, remember 'Anything Goes'?, and 'Crazy Life' is simply anthemic.
And there you have it, an album from a band of very talented musicians, each and every one of them. It's not one man with a support band, as the title would lead you to believe, nor is it a collaboration of artists playing on one member's past. After everything that Slash has been though from the Guns N' Roses debacle, to the relentless Velvet Revolver rumours, it's a surprise he's had the time to focus on delighting his fans, but he really has in my opinion.
Classic Rock will be releasing the fan pack in the UK on May 21st, which contains the album, two bonus tracks 'Carolina' and 'Crazy Love', an exclusive magazine which has a track by track breakdown of the album, pin badge and poster.
If you don't want to shell out £14.99 for it, then fear not as Roadrunner Records will be releasing it digitally at the same time and for those who just want the album, then the physical copy can be in your mitts on June 18th. Those across the pond will be able to buy their copy on May 22nd, and there is an album launch show planned in New York that night, which is being streamed live too at http://new.livestream.com/slash/livefromNYC.
Can't wait until then? Well you can buy the single 'You're A Lie' right now on iTunes, or simply watch the video right here, right now.
Slash is confirmed for a host of festival and live dates, so head over to his website to find out if he's playing near you anytime soon. Click here.