To many, Slash is a rock god. And rightly so, for he played lead for one of the 80s and 90s most famous rock bands: Guns N’ Roses. After Guns N’ Roses had internal problems, Slash and all the other band members left GNR, leaving just Axl Rose. Slash then went on to work on a short side project titled “Slash’s Snakepit” as well as becoming a very in demand session musician, recording parts for people such as Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper, Stevie Wonder and Insane Clown Posse. Slash’s Snakepit disbanded in ’98 and Slash continued as a session musician, contributing to all artists from every kind of genre. Slash’s Snakepit got back together one last time to record a second album, “Ain’t Life Grand”, although just a couple of years later, in 2002, Snakepit was disbanded once again in favour of Velvet Revolver. Velvet Revolver was a band with former GNR band mates Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, who found a lead singer in former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland. Velvet Revolver has been going strong, although since 2008, they have been on hiatus due to Scott Weiland’s departure and the subsequent search for a new lead singer.
Now this brings us up to the present day, and it was in mid 2009 when Slash played his first solo show, which hinted at the fact that he was thinking about going solo. Personally when I heard he was going solo, I was thinking the worse. Who would sing? Some complete unknown launched into stardom by riding Slash’s coattails? Could I have been more wrong?
Slash’s self-titled album consists of 14 tracks, each with a separate guest appearance. This list of guests reads like the invites to a living legends rock appreciation convention, with a few surprises thrown in. Everyone from Ozzy Osbourne (of Black Sabbath) Lemmy Kilmister (of Motorhead) M.Shadows (of Avenged Sevenfold) Andrew Stockdale (of Wolfmother). The ones that surprised me most were Fergie (of The Black Eyed Peas) and Adam Levine (of Maroon 5) although these two make appearances of two of the most pleasing tracks on the album. Despite this amazingly star studded guest appearance list, the focus of the album remains on Slash’s fabulous riffs, intricate solos and just his legendary guitar playing overall. Throughout the album, it feels as though the vocalist follows the guitar, rather than the vocals taking centre stage. Therefore it wouldn’t surprise anyone to be told that Slash wrote the songs first, before sending them to the vocalists, who wrote their own lyrics for them.
One song that sticks out for me in particular is By the Sword which features Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother fame, which happens to be the first single off of Slash’s album. This song features a realm of unknown for me, regarding Slash. That realm is acoustic guitar, which this song features a fantastic opening of acoustic guitar that really gives this song a wild western feel. The balance of guitar and vocals in this song is perfect, with Stockdale’s wonderful voice glistening on top of Slash’s effortlessly stunning guitar riffs and solos.
Another song which caught my eye (or ear as the case maybe) is Gotten which features Adam Levine who is best known for his role as lead singer of Maroon 5. Gotten is a much softer song, with Levine’s vocals really being a treat, even outshining the guitar. However, this song really doesn’t feel like it should be about the guitar, instead leaning more towards a ballad-like feel, although I don’t think it was designed as a ballad. Definitely a potential single, if it gets as far as releasing another couple. The guitar does pick up towards the end, with more distortion than before but I can’t help but feel that it feels out of place, especially following such a magical serenade feel that had ran through much of the song that had preceded it.
We’re All Gonna Die is another song which I felt was one of the better songs, out of a selection of already pretty great songs. Starring Iggy Pop of Iggy and the Stooges, We’re All Gonna Die is a taste of 80s rock with a punkish element thrown in by the rasping vocals. The main verse of the song features an intricate guitar part which is particularly pleasing, although I think it’d be fair to say that the vocals are disappointing during the verse. Both aspects pick up in the chorus, making for a very catchy hook to the song and it has had me humming it all day after listening to this album a few nights ago. Although an obvious choice for a single, I think this song doesn’t try and be anything that it’s not, sticking to the simple rock formula of great guitar and good vocals to make a great rock song.
One other song that is definitely worthy of a mention is Beautiful Dangerous which features Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas. Although Fergie is a very distinctly a pop singer, Beautiful Dangerous stands out from the album’s crowd. The song itself is laced with heavily distorted guitar, as well as the occasional synthesizer part to really spice things up. Beautiful Dangerous definitely has the feel of Guns n Roses in it’s peak with the swooping chorus and tricky guitar part, overall making for a brilliant, but perhaps too radio friendly track.
A few other songs that deserve a mention are Starlight (feat. Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, Creed, and Slash’s touring band that will be promoting this album on tour during 2010), Crucify the Dead (feat. Ozzy Osbourne) and Nothing to Say (feat. M.Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold. This song sounds very much like Avenged Sevenfold, slowed down and with a lighter edge).
Overall, Slash’s self titled album is a complete winner. Although what seemed like an odd formula before the vocalists were announced, as soon as they were everything changed and made this album into a piece of rock history, where Slash gathered some of the best rock n roll musicians in the world, threw them all together and made a piece of magic music. A must listen at the least, and if you bought it, you wouldn’t be disappointed by this record packed with variety and genius from the UK-born rock god.
You can buy Slash’s self titled album here and Slash is touring the world this year so keep an eye out for when he’s coming near you.