Label: Dik Hayd/Roadrunner Records
Release date: May 18, 2012
Guns ‘N Roses fans rejoice, the long-awaited follow-up to Use Your Illusion has arrived. While some may take that statement is a sarcastic indictment of Axl Rose, the simple fact is Apocalyptic Love is the GnR album fans have long been waiting for.
In listening to Apocalyptic Love one gets the sense that Slash has been sitting on some of these riffs for a while, and that the recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction snub by Rose may have paved the way for this album. Perhaps I’m out in left field on this, but it seems the songs on this album are more reflective of that early Guns ‘N Roses signature that made the band so legendary. Proving, perhaps, that Slash was the predominant songwriting talent in the band. In disrespecting the other members of the original Guns ‘N Roses lineup, Axl closed his own door on any potential reunion, thus allowing Slash to close the doors as well and move on. But we’re not here to bash Axl, rather we are here to celebrate Slash and his brilliant new album.
Let it be said from the opening chords to the closing coda there simply isn’t a bad song on Apocalyptic Love. On his second solo album, Slash has gone for more of a band feel. His debut solo effort, was more eclectic, mixing various vocalists and guest appearances. This time around, he’s primarily stuck with the singular line up, which includes Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy, and The Conspirators, bassist Todd Kerns (Sin City Sinners, Age of Electric) and drummer Brent Fitz (Alice Cooper, Vince Neil) .
Kennedy co-wrote much of the album with Slash. As we discovered on the previous album, Kennedy’s vocal style adapts quite nicely to Slash’s musical signature. While diehard Guns ‘N Roses fans will make the inevitable vocal comparisons between Myles and Axl, this does a disservice to both singers. While this is considered a solo album, the chemistry between Kennedy and Slash is unmistakable.
From the opening title track, “Apocalyptic Love”, that familiar guitar vibe has returned that we all remember. Filled with groove, funk, emotion, and a sense of playfulness, Slash is clearly back in this element.
Kennedy kicks off “One More Thrill” with a howling scream and the song is off to the races. A driving thrill ride packed with great guitar work and a hooky chorus.
“Standing In the Sun” is one of the album’s standout tracks. Kennedy’s vocal nuances make this song, which has a touch of that “Paradise City” vibe on the verses. Certainly one of the album’s more addictive tracks, and one that will no doubt find solid rotation on Active rock radio.
Next up is the album’s first single, “You’re A Lie”. This is another anthemic track with a sick groove, excellent lyrics, a sweet guitar solo, and a powerful chorus.
Five tracks in and there’s no letdown on the song quality. “No More Heroes” is another one of the record’s standout hits, and another sure-fire radio love affair in the making. Slash gives us a tasty little rolling guitar riff reminiscent of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” to get the song in motion. Lyrically, Kennedy hits home on this one;
“when your heroes turn to the enemy
and there’s nothing left to hold
when your heroes give only apologies
I won’t deny
it leaves me cold.”
“Halo” is one of the album’s heavier and more rambunctious tracks. Including crunchy guitars that lay the foundation for a thick slab of melodic rock ‘n roll.
The album’s longest song at just over six minutes is “Anastasia”. The track begins with a nice little acoustic interlude before Slash slides into more of his trademark riffage. The listener will immediately be cast back in time to his earliest works on Appetite For Destruction. This song is the epic masterpiece on Apocalyptic Love. The entire album is worth purchasing just for this song. Fortunately, Slash, Kennedy and crew offer up 13 dynamic reasons (15 if you get the Deluxe Edition) to buy this record.
“Shots Fired” closes the record out with impact and high style. Packed with more of that signature Saul Hudson guitar work, it leaves no doubt that while the roses may have wilted, his guns still have full chambers and his aim remains true.
Apocalyptic Love hits all the right notes, from melody saturated rockers, tracks filled with groove, emotion, and steeped in melody, to bluesy and raucous anthems. While a few of the tracks on the last half of the record aren’t quite as memorable as the first eight songs, they are all still worthy of being cranked to 11. This is easily one of 2012’s essential hard rock albums, full of deftly crafted songs, dynamic and explosive performances, and exceptional production by Eric Valentine, who handled the duties on Slash’s 2010 solo effort.
If you only purchase one new rock release this month, make it Apocalyptic Love.