Sound — 9
Making his return back into the solo scene with more heavy riffs, wailing solos and just down right crunch, Slash returns for his third solo album, "World on Fire," and features once again Myles Kennedy on vocals, Todd Kerns on bass and Brent Fitz on drums aka The Conspirators. Now that these four have been together for the last four years from touring to releasing their successful and acclaimed album "Apocalyptic Love" in 2012, the gang is back together and they play tighter like a band that has no egos, no issues and have fun doing it. Slash seems to have finally found the jackpot, let's hope that it stays that way.
What this album does is build on the chemistry that was formed on "Apocalyptic Love" between the band and not only enhances the sound but plays like a band that knows what to expect of each other. Myles, Todd and Brent know that its Slash's sound that drives the album which after twenty-five years has become one of the standards with hard rock and heavy metal. To the same token, Slash has accepted the knowledge that those same guys have and listened to them to write these songs, especially Myles. Remember that when he's not with Slash, he's performing or recording with his main band in Alter Bridge and he's no slouch on guitar either but it's that and his vocal abilities and general music that allow him to work with Slash and combine what he knows with what Slash wants for his album. That's not a mark of disrespect to Todd or Brent either because they help drive the album with heavy and groove fueled bass and drum patterns.
If you listen to "Apocalyptic Love" and then "World on Fire," you'll notice that it seems like they've taken time to hone the craft and make an album that combines all of their talents and influences into one, making an album that has traces of palmed muted heavy metal riffs like you hear in the title track, "Shadow Life," and "Too Far Gone" to the more blues driven tracks such as "30 Years to Life," "Stone Blind," and "Bent to Fly." But what you hear from this album is a sweet mix of heavy riffs, beautiful melody, chorus lines that make you want to sing with Myles, Todd and Brent, hard rock chords and of course Slash's trademark solos.
Don't expect Slash to change what he's known for a quarter century and be glad he doesn't want to. He can, but he knows what he wants and what his fans want. It's hard rock just the way you want it.
Lyrics — 9
Myles Kennedy is amazing. There's a reason he was offered a chance to play with Led Zeppelin a few years ago, it's because he's just so talented. He's also very talented at singing about different things with in his lyrics. Rock N' Roll may be consistent in the world of sex, drugs, and booze but there are different ways to sing about them. Working with Slash now for another album has allowed that trust between the two for him to be able to write lyrics that actually expand some of the songs than what he wrote on "Apocalyptic Love" and while of course there a still those classic rock n' roll songs we know, there are some that change the work of the album for the better as well. I can't help feel that part of that has come from his success with Alter Bridge's last two albums which have also received acclaim.
And of course we can't forget his vocal range. He can go from a groove laden sound to a melodic chorus to an all out wailing attack. Listen to the title track and you'll get a good idea of what exactly he can do and does throughout this album. But it's the songs you may not expect that really show what he does that makes it amazing to listen to. "The Dissident" has him singing with a softness that is accompanied by a clean tone from Slash through it until they hit the chorus and you here him shift into high gear, actually hearing him go up and then back down again without missing a beat. Having all this backed up by the fanatic backing vocals of Todd Kerns and Brent Fitz makes this an album that you want to sing along with them because they're clear to hear and they have a groove them that make you appreciate the album.
Overall Impression — 9
Looking back at this review, you'll notice that up till this point that I haven't mentioned a single thing about Guns N' Roses or Velvet Revolver as is often the case with anything that involves Slash. And it's because now that he has released a third solo album, each filled plenty of songs that stand on their own he deserves to not be known as the ex-GN'R guitarist, but as Slash. He has an abundance of work and songs that are all great to listen to but this album takes him into what should be a new era.
Of course he'll still play tons of the old GN'R tunes, "Slither" from his Velvet Revolver days while they remain on hiatus and even a few songs from his Snakepit days. But I think that with the release of this album, the shift should be made to play more songs from his solo albums during tours and not just the classics. There are at least five songs from this album, five from "Apocalyptic Love," and his debut album that could be played live that fans could love just as much.
My personal wish is that hopefully Myles, Todd and Brent continue to work with him and make more great music together. It just seems like Slash has finally found the people he needs to be with in order to write and play the music that he wants to play. "World on Fire" shows that they have formed the bond of a band that is happy to play together and plays for the music and the sheer enjoyment of it and it's a rare thing to see something like this in today's day and age.
I'll be honest, listening to these albums makes me happier than listening to Guns N' Roses now. It sounds crazy but we have to remember that those songs were released over twenty-five years ago. Yes, they will ALWAYS be classics and you will always bang your head to them but music is about trying to create something new to listen to, to make new classic songs that will have the same appeal in that time. In an era where the music industry is in a terrible place, where the music released is just generic three minute crap that is forgotten a week later, hearing albums like this that could and should leave their mark in the world gives me hope. I personally will remember all these songs because it's just that good and I hope there will be more to come.