Continuing to move his career forward (and away from the stigma of the Guns N’ Roses implosion), guitarist Slash has taken a major step in the right direction with his latest release Apocalyptic Love. While his first, self-titled solo effort came off as self-indulgent, parading multiple vocalists across the stage while Slash showed off his riffs, this new record shows remarkable musical consistency and maturity throughout.
Like most rock guitarists who leave a band to go “solo,” Slash relies on other talent to provide the vocals. In the case of 2010’s Slash, he drew upon an armada of guest vocalists ranging from Ozzy Osbourne to Adam Levine. On Apocalyptic Love, Slash has settled upon one guy: Myles Kennedy, lead vocalist for Alter Bridge. Not only does this prove to be a great partnership (both in the studio and on tour), but having one vocalist at the helm is part of what makes this solo record so consistent and cohesive.
Also in keeping with guitarists who go solo, the centerpiece of this album isn’t actually the vocals; it’s the guitar work. The mix subtly places the guitars near the forefront, and the vocals ever-so-slightly behind—not so much as to be obvious, but just enough to draw the listener past the vocals to the guitars, as if to say, “Hey, remember, this is Slash doing this record.” This kind of thing can really backfire if not done carefully, but in this case I have to say they hit the mark. After all, someone who buys a Slash record is naturally going to be listening for the guitars. As for the guitar work itself, it’s nothing short of stellar. Slash is definitely at the top of his game, filling the tracks with riffs, arpeggios and shreds that will delight any true rocker.
If the guitar work is the centerpiece of the record, the song “Anastasia” is the centerpiece of the guitar work. Clocking in at just over 6 minutes in the second half of the track list, it starts with a tasteful Spanish guitar intro, then breaks into what is arguably the most memorable set of riffs and arpeggios on the record—not to mention the epic solo toward the end. Perhaps the only critique I could offer is that after “Anastasia,” the rest of the record seems a little anti-climactic. Perhaps it would have been better to end with this one.
Going solo is always a risk for any artist (even more so for instrumentalists), because if it isn’t done right, the solo effort can come off as a novelty, or even worse, an afterthought. While Slash’s first attempt at a solo record came dangerously close to afterthought status, Apocalyptic Love definitely puts him back in the game. It’s a great record filled with just plain great rock & roll.
ALBUM RATING: 4 Stars (out of five)