It’s not as easy as you might think, being Slash. Sure, he’s the former guitarist from one of the most significant rock bands of all time, and he’s got one of the most iconic images in the music world, but as a solo artist who doesn’t really sing, he’s found it tough going when not in a band. Well, he has, until now, as Apocalyptic Love proves.
Since splitting from Guns N Roses in the 90s, he’s tried branching out with Slash’s Snakepit, who didn’t really set the world on fire, and then hooked himself up in a proper band again with Velvet Revolver. But since they fell apart, he’s found himself trying to find a place for himself. His first solo album may have been self-titled, but lacked identity as he played sideman to a range of vocalists, from Ozzy Osbourne to Fergie from Black Eyed Peas. Frankly, it was a mess.
One of those vocalists was Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge, and he obviously made an impact on Slash, because he joined him on tour for the album and again last year, featuring on the subsequent live album. And here he is again, on the second solo album, this time as full-time frontman on a record rather unwieldingly attributed to ‘Slash, featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators’. But, really, it’s Slash’s second solo album, and the first to really have his musical identity.
Just having one singer certainly helps, and Kennedy (who was the guy Led Zeppelin were seemingly flirting with as a tour replacement for Robert Plant a few years back) has a good enough set of pipes to bring real energy to the material in the way that the disparate group of hired voices failed last time out. That he occasionally sounds like both Axl Rose and Scott Weiland is handy for reminding you who the hairy guy in the top hat is, though Slash does a much better job of starring in his own songs here.
The lyrics may be all Kennedy’s, but Slash’s guitar signature is everywhere on Apocalyptic Love, from the appropriately-named title track through to first single You’re A Lie and especially on No More Heroes (not a Stranglers cover), which couldn’t be by anyone else. Anastasia samples Bach (well, obviously), but it’s a more modern musical icon who shines through with some wonderful virtuoso stuff on the guitar. The pace of the album is pretty relentless and there’s barely a dull moment, another contrast to the patchy self-titled album.
If I’ve seemed a bit down on that last release, it’s only because the idea of a Slash solo album is something that we’ve all looked forward to for so long, despite the successes of Velvet Revolver. It wasn’t a complete disaster, of course, but it was a patchy effort weighed down by too many different kinds of superstar vocalists, leaving Slash seeming like a guest on his own album. There’s no such problems here, with Kennedy and the Conspirators perfectly matched for him and allowing him to shine. This is what we’ve been waiting for, so enjoy.