Slash returns once again into a land which is thankfully familiar. His releases with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators are becoming regular on the cycle between Slash and Alter Bridge. The new album “World On Fire” rides along the same vein as “Apocalyptic Love” without sounding too much like it’s predecessor. At one hour and 17 minutes it is a considerably long album for a heavy rock band, but with the years of experience carried on all the musicians shoulders it shouldn’t be too much to maintain the intensity.
The opener and title track feels familiar enough. Lightning fast, simple structure and wailing vocals. It’s not a format for what is to come but it’s a easy route in, being the lead single too means the listener will be dropped into familiar territory. It also is the first song in a long while in which Myles Kennedy uses profanity, just a little bit of trivia. ‘Shadow Life’, ’30 Years to Life’, and ‘Wicked Stone’ ensure a strong start to the album. Each track worthy of merit in Slash‘s ever-growing back catalogue. They each contain little bits that sound like throwaways from “Apocalyptic Life” but the experienced musicians know how to alter the songs and give them a life of their own. ’30 Years to Life’ notably is one of the best tracks on the album; it’s dynamic and balanced well pace wise.
The album is effectively in two parts, due to it’s extraordinary length. In the second half ‘Battleground’ is one song that adds a beautiful element to the album. A traditional Slash ballad in a sense but, as with most softer songs, it’s Myles vocals that shine above everything else. The construction of this is familiar with Guns ”Illusion” era but Myles alters it just enough and again asserts himself as rocks vocal titan of the modern age. No means the deepest and best ballad but it’s a great “feel good” song, and utilises a “la la la” passage that is so often messed up by other artists. it’s all rock n roll but there’s no reason you can’t smile once in a while. ‘Iris of the Storm’ is another staple point on the album, great melodies and a direction away from the traditional “amped up blues”, nothing wrong with it but the change in dynamics makes it stand out. ‘Avalon’ reintroduces pace whilst ‘The Dissident’ makes use of the “oohs” and “aahs” in a fresh way again. It also bounces between moods very well, in the latter song, and towards the end becomes a really good ‘pop’ song.
‘Safar Inn’ is a surprise instrumental, and at 3 minutes it’s a good length for a quick blast of indulgence without being too arrogant. The jazzy undertones in favour of solid heavy blues throughout keep up the energy and interest. The final track could almost entirely be comprised of praise for Myles. His voice may not suit heavy rock brilliantly (some people’s opinions) but the labyrinth of melodies on ‘The Unholy’ are astounding. Slash has definitely found the vocalist he’s been looking for for 30 years. The vocals combined with the dooming instrumentals make this track stand out too. Definitely one of the “keepers” should the album have been whittled down.
In the end it’s clear that Slash, featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators is totally separate any previous work by other artists. Sounds obvious but there’s few instances of “This sounds like Alter Bridge, Guns n Roses or Velvet Revolver“, Snakepit at a push but Slash has found a formula that works and is sticking to it. That’s a good thing. Perhaps trimming the album or expanding to a double would have been best for “World On Fire” as it’s a little too cumbersome to listen to all the way through. It’s got it’s share of throwaways, generally the shorter songs. Not bad songs but in comparison to the rest they seem wasted.
Verdict – 8/10 – It seems to be a grower. The fat could have been trimmed heavily but thankfully the 90% of good material is absolutely solid. Possibly better than “Apocalyptic Love” and in a different ball park to the rest of the catalog.