Sound — 10
It is an instant realization, once you hear the music, that it stands out from today's modern rock. I was skeptical at first about Scott fronting Slash, Duff, Matt, and Dave, who are all notorious for their previous aggressive raw bands, I was never much of an alternative rock fan, and never quite got into STP. But nevertheless, I picked up the CD, seeing as the members are basically rock royalty. I was much surprised at Weiland's ability to front at heavy rock group such as Velvet Revolver. From the opening bass-heavy intro to "Sucker Train Blues" to the sad-thought provoking "Loving The Alien," the music is consistent. As for each member's work: Matt Sorum's tight rhythm section keeps you tapping along, it is evident the rhythm section shines in songs like "Big Machine" and of course many of the songs, brilliant openers are fueled by Matt's aggressive drumming skills (Illegal I Song, Dirty Little Thing). How would Slash begin to rip into Slither's solo without the solo opening drumbeat. Next, Duff (my favourite bassist of all time). McKagan opens the album with "Sucker Train Blues," and keeps the blistering fast music from falling apart. He shines on songs like "Fall To Pieces," "Big Machine," and "Dirty Little Thing." Dave Kushner, another essential part to the rhythm section, is often overlooked. Consistent and always in time, he backs and complements the lead guitar, with thick power chords. Unlike Izzy (Stradlin, G'NR), he brings a new sound to the table, FX pedals. He proves himself worthy on tracks like "Slither" and "Headspace." Scott Weiland has risen to the challenge. An incredible frontman for an incredible band. The emotion in his vocals and sincerity is reminiscent of the late Cobain (emotion-wise, not style-wise). He kicks-ass on tracks like "Fall To Pieces," "Superhuman," "Slither" and "Dirty Little Thing." Finally, Slash, well he's back and swinging, on nearly every song, the emotion in his playing, can leave you crying, pissed, and most of all in awe. His loose off the cuff style of playing can not be reproduced. As tapping is Van Halen's personal statement, reckless abandon is Slash's. He stands out primarily on "Spectacle," "Fall To Pieces," "You Got No Right," "Slither" and "Dirty Little Thing". All in all, this supergroup, has created a powerful big sound, and left a crater in the world of rock, reminiscent of Van Halen 1.
Lyrics — 10
To be honest, it takes a while for the lyrics to be fully understood and realized. The lyrics however are meant to provoke thought. "Sucker Train Blues" paints a vivid image of drug abuse: "Brain and body melting, while there's roaches multiplying..." "Do It For The Kids" takes on the hard rock attitude with "Went to fast, I'm outta luck, and I don't even give a f--k!". "Superhuman" shows the ugliness of addiction: "What was she thinking? She'll never get enough." Scott Weiland has had the life experience obviously to write in detail about such things, and the vibrant language used gives a listener a vivid point of view on the evils of rock and roll.
Overall Impression — 10
I have yet to see an album in this genre compete with "Contraband." I can only wait to see what the new album has in store. If I lost this CD I would buy 2 more, for insurance. From mind-bending, lyrics, melt-your-face-off guitar solos and incredible drumming, Contraband has resurrected rock and roll. Competitors will have to answer to a revolver, a Velvet Revolver.