That bottomless vat of killer riffs, the venerable Slash is at it again, unleashing another barrage of tasty sun-kissed licks on latest release, ‘Apocalyptic Love’. Ditching his celebrity friends to focus on his talented backing band, the guitarist’s second solo album is a master class in radio-friendly rock ‘n’ roll that kicks out the jams and maintains the spirit and soul that is unique to the ex-GnR axeman.
For the most part, ‘Apocalyptic Love’ delivers everything that you would expect. Slash is an icon of rock, and rightly so, but these days he finds himself pigeon-holed in a genre of music that stopped evolving a while ago. The music here is as overproduced, clean and inoffensive as anything Nickleback would put out, with a sheen of homogenised scuzz on the surface for that authentic American rock feel.
What saves the majority of these songs; what stops the album falling into mediocrity, is the sheer star power of Slash and frontman Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge), whose perfect partnership and electric chemistry infuse ‘Apocalyptic Love’ with an infectious charm that grows with repeat spins. Kennedy is a powerful vocalist who steals the show on more than one occasion. The bristling ‘You’re A Lie’ is elevated to greatness by his towering rasp as Slash leads the rhythm section through a barrelling chorus that is one of the album’s best, while ‘Hard And Fast’ is made intense and exhilarating thanks to Kennedy‘s nuanced roar.
Needless to say, ‘Apocalyptic Love’ doesn’t skimp on the riffs. From the simple but enjoyable Led Zeppelin-inspired verses of ‘Standing In The Sun’ and the virtuosic tumbling runs of ‘Anastasia’, to the absolutely irresistible vocoder grooves of ‘Carolina’, Slash is putting his extensive knowledge into practice and shredding through a fretboard or two in the process.
That isn’t to say that the fat couldn’t have been trimmed in other places however. At nearly an hour long, with 15 tracks on offer and a tighter selection process, this could have been an exceptional album. As it stands, so-so songs like the cliché ‘We Will Roam’ and ‘Halo’, both of which offer about as much danger and edginess as a Christmas pudding, remain in the playlist and drag the overall experience down.
But don’t let that deter you. ‘Apocalyptic Love’ does exactly what it should and it does it exceptionally well. As an example of mainstream rock this is one of the best releases of the year, and well worth your time and money if you’re a fan of Slash‘s style or Myles Kennedy‘s impressive chops. For every underwhelming verse or clumsy riff, there’s a face-melting solo or deathly-infectious chorus waiting to wash the negative points away. It may be middle-of-the-road stuff, but you won’t find it done better anywhere else.
Written by Grant Bailey