By Frisco Rosso
The guy with the hat is back.
Apocalyptic Love is iconic axeman Slash’s second solo studio album, coming off the back of the back of his self-titled debut.
Alter Bridge front man Myles Kennedy, multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Brent Fitz on drums and Todd Kerns on bass completes Slash’s raggedy-arsed but able support, better known as Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, who served as his touring band for his debut solo album.
With Kennedy having taken care of lyrical duties this, by Slash’s own admission, is more of a collaborative effort. It’s certainly more cohesive that his first release and is likely to have a far longer shelf life.
Straying away from the pounding, rhythm-heavy sound of Velvet Revolver, Apocalyptic Love is nothing especially original, with a classic rock sound that has the substance and diversity to endure but with overtly heavier overtones that will still make kids want to pick up guitars and jump around. That said, it is a solid record with enough twists and turns to keep Slash fans enthralled.
The energetic You’re a Lie puts breakup realisation on the front foot:
Kennedy’s tenor vocal range is pushed to the limit by Slash’s dominant licks and he does well to compliment the rhythm and raucous choruses, mainly thanks to his all important fourth octave that pushes the high notes into overdrive.
Nevertheless, the vocal doubling up on the choruses wears a bit thin after a while and is perhaps an indication of too little depth on the lyrical front. Kennedy occasionally battles to counter the musical weight with which Slash punches but on the whole co-hosts each track well.
Brent Fitz’s accompaniment is a refreshing change from the heavy, driving drumming Matt Sorum provided for Slash in Velvet Revolver and the latter period of his time in Guns n’ Roses. Fitz maintains a modest but effectual style throughout and by using fills sparingly doesn’t break the songs’ flow into mere beats and bars.
Slash’s distinctive rich studio tone gets a heavier makeover but it certainly doesn’t detract from the style fans have come to know and love over the years and the more brutish tones are handled to good effect on tracks such as You’re a Lie, Halo, and Bad Rain.
One Last Thrill is a regular high-speed rhythm and blues fest while Far and Away kicks in with melancholy longing, lifted by upbeat hooks – atmospherically an understated gem on the album, with melodies and chord progressions that would not be out of place on a Mike D’Abo record.
Anastasia (opening riff allegedly inspired by Johan Sebastian Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in D minor) sees Slash keeping the rhythm riffage at the bottom end of the fret board to gutsy, raunchy effect and also intersperses flamenco-esque patterns in the higher octaves to add to the brooding mood.
Not For Me brings to mind Velvet Revolver’s Fall to Pieces, with similar progressions that may even be in the same key while Hard & Fast sports continuous unbroken riffs and solo work in keeping with the track’s namesake and shows the same youthful and reckless exuberance showcased on Guns n’ Roses’ EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide.
Apocalyptic Love was a slow burner for me, but by the time I’d gone through the album for the third time the pieces were beginning to fit together nicely.
Although solid, the record doesn’t break any new ground but it does give flans a fleeting glimpse of what could be a revised sound that Slash may continue to work with.
One can only hope that the Slash/ Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators outfit will produce a second album to compare with Apocalyptic Love and that the guy in the hat will be able to settle into a continuous flow, but if his track record as a solo artist is anything to go by this could be a once off.
Frisco rating: 8/10
With more tension than your mother’s suspension, I am Frisco Rosso. I’m likely to deliver a few lines worth at any given moment regarding film, music, sport, books and anything morally unsound that strikes a blow between the eyes in the name of entertainment.