This week’s new releases might be overshadowed by the man on your left but it’s not just Slash who’s hitting the mark with some pretty mean rock and roll right now.

We review and rate the fantastic Red Sparowes and check out the debut from Danish metal crew Anoxia.

There’s a five -track EP from indie rockers The Paddingtons and the glossy Vegas-inspired cock rock of  fast-rising stars Taking Dawn.

Plus we check out one of the buzz records of 2010 in the shape of Hungry & The Hunted’s hotly anticipated debut.

Classic Rock Presents Slash – Slash (Classic Rock/Roadrunner)

So here’s a new concept in rock and roll marketing. Package the debut solo album by one of  rock’s most recognisable stars within a magazine featuring exclsuive artwork, a sew-on patch and various other bits and bobs and let it loose a full month before the standard CD release. It’s a brave move but looks like being a winner with demand for the Classic Rock Slash pack reaching fever pitch ahead of last Wedmesday’s release.

But here’s the thing: it failed to make it into the shops (or at least all the shops we tried) in time for its release and so all of that excited anticipation turned to pure rock fury. For 24 hours at least. Now that the ire has eased, what about the music?

The first thing that strikes you when listening to this who’s who of rock royalty is that the vocal performances are massive. So big, in fact, that you forget this is a Slash record. Attempting to appreciate Stoke’s finest against a backdrop of Lemmy, Ian Astbury, Fergie and the rest is nigh-on impossible. The mix is such that the vocals are given precedence and on so many of these outstanding tunes you have to really listen hard to pick out the former Gunner’s finest moments, bar the odd ballbreaking solo.

Yet given the right foil Slash burns like he always did. In tandem with Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale he sounds reborn. If the pop rock collaboration with Fergie on Beautiful Dangerous (great title, by the way) is an early highlight then it’s By The Sword which stands out as the perfect partnership. Stockdale and Slash were born to rock – together.

But it’s just as clear why the Velvet Revolver (yes, they do still exist) man has picked Myles Kennedy as his touring vocalist of choice. Back From Cali is where Slash sounds most like the GNR hero of old and if he doesn’t get on great with Axl these days then it seems he’s still determined to retain their old band’s classic vibe. Gotten, with Adam Levine, is another standout song but then the Maroon Five man has a voice capable of transcending genres and wooing the masses.

Those looking for a typical guitarist’s guitar album will be sorely disappointed with this remarkabale effort: try the new Joe Perry Project CD instead (ironically another Classic Rock-promoted album, although in this instance given away free). But we have to hand it to Slash – this is a brave and brilliant rock record quite capable of carrying the axe hero to another level and utterly overshadowing anything Axl has got going on right now. It’s not all about the musician but it’s all about the music. And that’s why this record’s appeal will stretch way beyond the domain of the rock and metal community.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Slash Pack(s) A Punch

Anoxia – A Lapdance For The Devil (Mighty Music)

In vocalist Lars Frederiksen the Danes of Anoxia have found their trump card – this man was born to be a heavy metal hero and he rocks his way through this impressive debut as if his life depends upon it. Melodic enough to satisfy the band’s Scandinavian fanbase but boasting an underlying growl guaranteed to make an impression on a pro-NWOBHM crowd there’s every chance we could be hearing a lot more of these guys in the future.

If Judas Priest had formed 30 years later this could have been their sound – Anoxia fuse old school riffs with a clean, modern metal approach to deliver a series of classy, powerful hard rocking standards. Tracks like Cold Violence, Lonely Ride and Beyond The Line don’t really belong on a debut CD – they’re more accomplished than that. And the only criticism we have is that more isn’t made of the choruses. Work on that between now and album number two and Frederiksen and his buddies really could hit the big time.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Metal Ano-raks

Hungry & The Hunted – Magic Bullets (Self Released)

Get past the frankly ridiculous and potentially limiting band name (come on lads, you must have been able to think of something better) and what you have here is a quite brilliant mix of rock n roll, punk, blues and even, on the priceless Stole My Breath, some dub-style funk. Fellow three-piece Man Raze, featuring Def Leppard’s Phil Collen, are on a mission to prove that eclectic power trios are worth hearing right now and H&TH carry the fight into 2010.

At times sounding like early 90s Georgia Satellites but just as likely to morph into a Pistols-lite punk combo, frontman Azam Khan and his band mates have made one of the best records of the year to date. It’s both edgy and laid back, intense and relaxed. Three tracks in and the luscious Heaven’s Gate hints that this a very special album which refuses to be pigeon-holed and yet maintains an underlying Springsteen-esque attitude throughout.

These are songs sung with passion and meaning and the tight rhythm section of Babar Luck and Tom Meadows proves to be the glue that binds this band together. We’re already Hungry for more.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Magic Stuff

Taking Dawn – Time To Burn (Roadrunner Records)

Roadrunner are forging a reputation for greaking some of the hottest new classic rock bands around and where Black Stone Cherry and The Parlor Mob have led, Taking Dawn could easily follow. But don’t be fooled by reviews which liken this Las Vegas mob to Bon Jovi and GNR because this is nothing like the hair metal we grew to love in the late 80s and early 90s. Sure taking Dawn boast the looks and the attitude but their music is more metal and less hair – the clean vocals and crisp solos belying a band straight out of the modern era.

Frontman Chris Babbitt is a great singer but his tone is far removed from Bon Jovi’s New jersey drawl or Axl Rose’s trademark whine. It would be unfair to label it soulless or manufactured – let’s just say Babbitt is a little but too slick for sleaze and a touch too powerful to pass as glam. A singer still searching for his own vocal identity he’s well worth keeping tabs on.

Right now, as anyone who’s seen the band on tour with Airbourne this month will know, the biggest challenge facing Taking Dawn is transferring Time To Burn’s fionest moments to the live arena. As debut CDs go this is a phenomenal effort with the Michael ‘Elvis’ baskette production job transforming the US quartet from club fixtures to potential arena fillers. Tracks like Take Me Away and Save Me are soaked in attitude and angst and it doesn’t take a giant leap of imagination to see this lot strutting their stuff on stadium stages – perhaps that’s why Kiss are taking them out on the road this summer…

Taking Dawn will go one of two ways during the next 12 months: up, up and away or back to where they started. We’re keeping our fingers crossed it will be the former.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Time To Listen

The Paddingtons – The Lady Boy Tapes EP (Mama – Bear Records)

Expecting a five-track blast of indie rock dirge this was something of a surprise. The lame Lady Boy aside (it’s just not funny or ironic or whatever it’s supposed to be) this could be the release to persaude Paddingtons- knockers that the band really does have rock credentials. The classy Clash-esque vibe of opening track Consequence is meaty evidence that these pretty boys can get nasty and Pretty Pity emphasises the point.

Following hot on the heels of current album No Mundane Options it’s not entirely clear why this EP has been released now but it’s a bloody good job. If it’s a vehicle for promoting The Paddingtons of the future then we’ll be hitching a ride – if it’s simply an opportunity to let off steam beyond the normal parameters of Paddingtons land then that’s a true pity.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Padd Boys Come Good

Red Sparowes – The Fear Is Excruciating But Therein Lies The Answer (Conspiracy Records)

Nice, neat title. There’s something endearingly pretentious about a band which doesn’t give a f**k about convention, commercialism or commonality and Red Sparowes is that band. This sprawling instrumentalscape belongs in a different era, or at least on some 70s gangland film score, but it’s infuriatingly addictive with its bombastic effect and intricate arrangements.

It’s difficult to imagine Radio Two playlisting the glorious Giving Birth To Imagined Saviours anytime soon but then such mainstream recognition would surely destroy the soul of this semi-supergroup.  Bringing together members of Isis, Made Out Of Babies and The VSS to name but a few, TFIEBTLTA was always going to throw up a rich aural landscape and the heavier moments are the best.

This is a record to lose yourself in, quite possibly for days on end and with a full bottle of Bourbon close to hand. Listen to TFIEBTLTA without any distractions and the rewards are rich. Honestly.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Red Alert