Album review: Slash

Posted: April 12, 2010 in Album Reviews

Time to forget about the Mets for a little while and talk some music again. Bought the first solo album by ex-GnR guitarist Slash last week, and it’s a pretty strong effort indeed.
Slash has recorded four albums since he left Guns n Roses – two with Slash’s Snakepit and two more with Velvet Revolver – but this self-titled release is the first bearing his name only.
Since Slash can’t sing, he went the Santana route and recruited an All-Star roster of singers, mostly in the hard rock/metal vein. He did throw a few curveballs into the mix, like the track “Beautiful Dangerous” with Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas and “Gotten” featuring Adam Levine of the pop group Maroon 5. But there are the usual suspects you’d expect – Ozzy, Lemmy Kilmeister, Iggy Pop and Chris Cornell, to name a few.
The proceedings kick off in fine fashion with “Ghost,” a track done with Ian Astbury, former lead singer of The Cult. It’s a driving rocker with a kick-ass groove, one of the best songs on the album.
Ozzy’s song “Crucify the Dead” could have been better. Slash’s playing, as it is throughout the album, is spot-on, but this song doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s not a rocker, it’s not a ballad. It falls in the middle ground, and while Ozzy’s singing is good, it’s just not what it could have been. Maybe my expectations were too high.
On the flip side, my expectations couldn’t have been lower for his track with Fergie. Usually, I like her work about as much as a root canal followed by a vasectomy, but the song actually rocks. Yes, it’s a bit poppy (as you’d expect from Fergie), but the track drives along well and is quite catchy with plenty of hooks. One of the better efforts on the album.
“Back from Cali” is the first of two efforts with former Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy, and it’s a decent track – nothing all that great although Kennedy certainly has an amazing vocal range. The second song with Kennedy, “Starlight,” is much better and really gets stuck in your head.
“Promise” with Chris Cornell is another song I expected a bit more from, only because I’m a huge Cornell fan. This song is quite good, a little on the softer side. Although I would have preferred a rocker from Cornell, this song is a solid effort.
Another big-time highlight is “By the Sword,” an epic track done with Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale. This song could have been a lost Led Zeppelin track, it starts off with a bluesy acoustic riff and eventually morphs into a heavy dramatic rocker, and Stockdale delivers the ham-fisted vocals with typical flair.
Needless to say, “Gotten” with Levine is the worst song on the album. Way too wimpy and boring, it’s a ballad that literally goes nowhere until Slash momentarily saves it with an awesome solo.
Luckily, Lemmy livens things up with the next song, “Doctor Alibi.” A hard, grimy rocker as you’d expect from the Motorhead singer, it gets things back on track in a hurry.
The only instrumental on the album “Watch This Dave” is another heavy dose of rock provided by Slash, former GnR bassist Duff McKagan and Dave Grohl. The song goes through a few cool musical changes and rocks all the way through.
“I Hold On” could have been an outtake from Kid Rock’s last album “Rock N Roll Jesus.” It has the feel of many of the slower songs from that album, and while it’s solidly performed, it doesn’t leave much of an impact.
“Nothing to Say” with Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows is another heavy burst of rock. It’s got some awesome playing from Slash and Shadows is a fine vocalist for this kind of track. They work well together and it’s another highlight.
“Starlight,” as mentioned before, is a real vocal spotlight for Kennedy. A bit bluesy at the beginning, he really wails as the song goes on. It gets better every time I hear it.
“Saint is a Sinner Too” features Rocco DeLuca and some cool acoustic Spanish guitar playing from Slash. Unfortunately, the song isn’t all that memorable. DeLuca has a good voice, but that can’t save a boring song.
The album closes with the simply awesome “We’re All Gonna Die” with Iggy Pop. A true F-you kiss-off song, it rocks in every way. Slash’s playing is fierce on this one, and I’m glad they ended the album on such an adrenaline rush. Classic stuff.
There you have it, a track-by-track run through of Slash’s album. There were three or four tracks I’d consider filler, but the rest of the album is very good and a few tracks really kick ass. Overall, a fine solo effort from the man with the top hat.

Sod rating: **** (out of five)

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