22 May 2012
by David Keevil
Slash carries a name, and an image, that has become synonymous with rock music; from the iconic opening blast of ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, through to his bolshy groove-ridden tenure for Velvet Revolver, this is a man who’s been an ambassador for hard rock ever since the late-80s heyday of Guns N’ Roses. It’s down to being such an enduring masthead of rock music – even if his cultural zenith peaked twenty years ago – that every new Slash record must drag the weight of his much more prosperous days behind him.
That image, both physically and metaphorically, leaves Slash often seeming like he’s caught in time; he is indebted to this past with Guns N’ Roses, and although it would be cynical to think that his period of grace with the public will only last as long as a reunion remains on the table, he himself has never maintained a musical outing long enough for it to seem like a new start. As such, there’s always been the feeling that he’s just waiting for that call from Axl….
Yet whilst Slash’s first, self-titled, solo outing in 2010 may have looked like some collaborative side-project, 2012’s Apocalyptic Love is an entirely different beast altogether. Gone are the sensationalist guest appearances of Slash, and instead they’ve been replaced by a full-time vocalist in the form of the highly-talented Miles Kennedy (of Alter Bridge and, of course, Slash’s touring band), and a set of semi-permanent musicians to accompany him.
What’s more, the album feels like a single entity. Kennedy’s rich, soaring vocals meld every song, and compliment Slash’s dangerous grooves and fleshy riffs that wander along the kind of fresh and scintillating pathways that Appetite for Destruction trod so many years ago. There are tracks that owe a debt to Slash’s classical musings, as in the sizzling opener to ‘Anastasia’ and songs that showcase the kind of sensational vocals that Kennedy can rip through (see the slow build of ‘Not for Me’); what I’m getting at is that this feels and sounds like the kind of album that points to Slash the band and not just Slash the guitarist. This album, moreover, feels like the making of a group that isn’t just some historical hangover.
Watch a YouTube video of Slash talking about YouTube videos:
This is a musical outing that rollicks through peaks and troughs, captures moments soaked in crimson beauty and carries a swagger that has been sadly missing in rock music for many years. Apocalyptic Love may carry the tricks of Slash’s trade, but for once, in a very long time, it feels like the man is looking forward not back.
Sounds Like: The much belated death knell of an atavistic rumour mill.
Standout Tracks: No More Heroes, Anastasia, Not For Me.