I’m a real big fan of SLASH. Always have been, always will be. His last effort Apocalyptic Love was one of the best records of 2012, largely due to the collaboration between him and Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators. That was one hell of a collection of songs and they were outstanding live here at BFD in Dallas summer of 2013. All of which begs the question; can they do it again? Well, now that newest record World On Fire has been released via SLASH’S own Dik Hayd International label and I’ve had time to sit with it, let’s see.
As always, the guitar work is incendiary, and the energy level is high, particularly on the first four tracks, “World On Fire”, “Shadow Life”, “Automatic Overdive”, and “Wicked Stone” the latter being one of the album’s finest. The solo is out of this world as well. This gives way to some dirty slide guitar at the start of “30 Years to Life” another sensational cut that takes off like a riff-fueled rocket, bassist Todd Kerns and Brent Fitz absolutely shining on this as well as “Stone”. Lyrically and vocally Kennedy is at the top of his game. I have often said he has arguably the best voice in rock right now and I challenge anyone to make their case as to who is better and why. Anyone? No? I didn’t think so. His voice is especially soaring on “Bent to Fly” the first change-of-pace track out of the seventeen that make up the record.
“Too Far Gone” is another one that has that signature SLASH groove, all tasty licks and sexy riffs; the type of song young players should be in their rooms trying to learn and not that seven-string core crap. As soon as I heard “Beneath the Savage Sun” I knew we were in for something epic. The rhythm section wraps around this one like a security blanket. You really get to hear Kerns and Fitz on this record, and that’s awesome because they are so vital to the sound of this band and they deserve to be heard. Holy wow, just wow, “Withered Delilah”! It’s just an outstanding boogie with a great hook and a running lick behind the whole thing. “Battlefield” is another song that ca only be described as beautiful, Myles’ voice taking on that pained and longing feel that permeates every part of you as you listen. Then SLASH comes in with the solo that sweeps you off your feet in no time which leads into one of the best “LA-LA-LA” sing-alongs I’ve heard in years.
Speaking of dirty they don’t get any dirtier than “Dirty Girl”. Was that enough “dirty” in one sentence? Either way, it’s a fun song that leads seamlessly into “Iris of the Storm” another standout from the get-go along with “Avalon” whose Celtic-infused beginnings and mind-blowing solo made it my other favorite ten seconds in. “The Dissident” opens with a tinny, crackled record player and a NSFW folk ditty featuring a hook that sticks in your head and a solo that mirrors the melody line before ripping shit up as only SLASH can do. Out of left field comes “Safari Inn” an instrumental track that really showcases the emotions that fly from the fret board of a man at the top of the guitar pyramid right now. Closing out this big beast of a record is “The Unholy” itself a leviathan track, not just for the 6:48 running time but for the slow build-up until it kicks off in one last blaze of glory.
So to answer the original question, can SLASH and Co. do it again? Yes. Yes they can on every level. World On Fire is available everywhere now and I suggest you grab your copy immediately if not sooner.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Wicked Stone”, “Avalon”, “30 Years to Life”, “Battlefield”, “Iris of the Storm”, “The Dissident”, “Automatic Overdrive”