And we’ve got a sneaking feeling there’ll only be one winner when Slash gets down to business at Castle Donington.
With a new album, super slick band and that hat you’d be mad to miss one of the world’s genuine guitar heroes.
And in the week when Guns N Roses return to British shores what better time to celebrate the man responsible for so many of that legendary band’s most brilliant moments?
With the Apocalyptic Love Classic Rock Fanpack released today we look at Slash’s latest work.
And we reveal whether it stands up to the best of his bulging back catalogue with Guns, Snakepit and Velvet Revolver.
Genre: Classic Rock
With its raft of celebrity contributors, a whole heap of pre-release hype and the sad demise of Chinese Democracy there was never any doubt that Slash’s self-titled debut solo album would be a rip-roaring success.
The anticipation and expectation alone guaranteed healthy sales and the chance to hear Stoke’s very own guitar hero performing alongside the likes of Lemmy, Ozzy, Dave Grohl, Kid Rock et al simply sealed the deal where every self-respecting fan of classic rock was concerned.
It just so happened that Slash’s first genuine solo record boasted some of the best songs we’d heard in decades and it was little surprise that the hype soon gave way to sparkling reviews, critical acclaim and a collective gasp of disbelief.
So the pressure, to say the least, is on where Apocalyptic Love is concerned. Gone is the glamorous supporting cast with Myles Kennedy now taking on the role of Ozzy, Lemmy, Dave, the Kid and the rest. But that’s the first smart move Slash made in the wake of his magical self-titled smash.
Fronting Alter Bridge Kennedy is a Marmite man – fans love or hate the singer with the post-grunge Arena botherers and there is no in between. Stick him alongside Slash, however, and there’s universal admiration for the multi-talented vocalist.
Kennedy was far from the biggest name on Slash’s self-titled debut but he swiftly emerged as the biggest success with barnstorming performances on standout tunes Back From Cali and Starlight. No surprise, then, that he turned up on tour with the top-hatted one and a partnership that promised so much is allowed to blossom on the brilliant Apocalyptic Love.
Such is Kennedy’s importance to Slash in 2012 that the new album moves away from the idea that the former GnR man is solo-obsessed (in more ways than one). The ‘band’ gets top billing as Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators and the resulting album benefits from the sense that this is a collective pooling of resources rather than an individual calling in favours.
Lead single You’re A Lie always was, on reflection, the song most likely to give Apocalyptic Love its best shot at piercing the mainstream prior to release – its mix of classic rock, old school GnR sleaze and modern metal ticking every box where rock radio and beyond is concerned.
But there’s a rich tapestry of multi-layered guitar music lurking beneath the surface of that bright commercial nugget, not least the mesmerising six minutes-plus Anastacia. Mixing classical Malmsteen with a bourbon-soaked West Coast cool, it’s Slash proving he’s still got the chops when it comes to crafting sensational solos and rolling out memorable riffs. A must for this month’s Donington set, it puts one of the world’s very best musicians back where he belongs – at the top.
Far And Away sees Slash and Kennedy slow it down with the latter given licence to stretch those polished pipes and walk away with a personal triumph. A ballad with more than a hint of early Chili Peppers, it also features one of the finest solos you’ll hear in 2012: understated and overwhelming all in one.
The Fan Pack features two bonus tracks and the first of those, Carolina, makes it well worth plumping for the deluxe edition of Apocalyptic Love. Rooted in 70s disco with a Bon Jovi-esque voice box pedal-effect for good measure, this infectious tune will have you humming all the way to the Download merch stall for that retro Slash tee.
As for the low points? The title track doesn’t exactly grab you by the balls and drag you into The Conspirators’ brave new world and even One Last Thrill sounds like a hangover from the Use Your Illusion sessions but don’t let a slow start cloud the bigger picture. Apocalyptic Love is a marathon, not a sprint. And the race is on to better Slash’s finest hour as 2012’s Album Of The Year.
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Slash Packs Punch