After the relative anonymity of Slash’s Snakepit, the runaway success of the top hatted star’s eponymous debut album caught many off guard. The album itself was spotty, inconsistent, but undeniably enjoyable, as a series of pop stars and rock legends took turns riffing off the totemic guitar icon. Hoping to duplicate the multi-platinum success of his debut is sophomore LP Apocalyptic Love. Unlike its predecessor, it doesn’t have a Fergie, Ozzy Osbourne, or Dave Grohl lurking around the next corner, instead Slash has presented a cohesive work with a fixed band and one vocalist.
Unsurprisingly, Myles Kennedy has stepped up to the plate, having accompanied Slash on his last world tour. Sadly, of all the potential candidates, the Alter Bridge frontman was the least exciting. Kennedy feels perfunctory, pedestrian, and just plain dull next to the enigmatic Slash. Still, after spending the majority of his adult life dealing with either Axl Rose or Scott Weiland, who can blame Slash for sticking with the reliable old boot that is Myles Kennedy.
On the slow burning but big payoff ballad “Not For Me”, Kennedy certainly earns his salt. He feels at home with darker less exuberant fare and, to his credit, he puts in a serviceable shift on “One Last Thrill” and “Apocalyptic Love” as he tries to keep pace with Slash’s blistering blues swagger. Kennedy just can’t do sexy, let alone dangerous, and while he may provide an adequate Axl Rose impression with thousands of fans at his back, on record he sounds at best uncomfortable, and at worst like a hollow pretender.
The two lead stars are forced into an awkward state of purgatory. Their skill sets simply don’t mesh. Slash, a master at hurtling downhill, can make even the most overused rumbling riffs (“Hard & Fast”) sound exhilarating, while Kennedy can only really assert himself on brooding anthems that are half a step slower than Slash’s bread and butter (“Bad Rain”). The result is an uneasy middle ground that would verge on self-parody were it not for the sheer momentum of Slash’s playing.
Without his rock star friends cutting loose and bringing a sense of enjoyment and spontaneity to the recording, Apocalyptic Love feels tired and predictable. Vast swathes of the album are comprised of unimaginative rehashes (rehashes of rehashes in truth), and the success or failure of each track largely depends on whether Slash can muster the requisite enthusiasm to unleash a killer solo or a bruising riff. 99% of the songwriting can be dismissed as a cobbled together rock’n’roll cliché, devoid of merit, and by the time “Crazy Life” rolls around, and Myles unveils his 10th Axl Rose impression, you’ll be desperate for any kind of original, or even, genuine voice.
Buy If: You want to hear Slash do his thing and you’re happy to tune out the generic and occasionally cringe inducing vocals that surround him.
Avoid If: You want more than bare minimum stopgap rock’n’roll.
Best Track: “Halo”
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