Both Slash and Myles Kennedy have easily been the hardest working musicians in the rock world in recent years. Myles for juggling two of today’s top rock bands and Slash for doing everything from recording great rock albums to producing independent horror films. I’ve gone through the whole spiel before when I reviewed the last Slash album Apocalyptic Love, so I’ll save the history talk and come straight to the modern day, just over two years after the release of Apocalyptic Love. Slash Feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators have released yet another album, this time calling it World On Fire.
There are noticeable differences this time around, most particularly the abundance of songs recorded this time around – seventeen – and that’s with no bonus track. One other difference I noticed when looking up the album is that Slash plays all of the guitars on the album, unlike every other album he has ever recorded in which he always had a rhythm player to play with, though for his live shows he has Frank Sidoris playing the rhythm parts on stage. Slash’s desire to always have a second guitarist is always something I most admired about him. I remember Bret Michaels of Poison telling the story of how Slash actually successfully auditioned to be in Poison (imagine that) but declined when he found out he would be the only guitarist. Anyway, I find his decision to be the only guitarist featured on the album interesting, and frankly a little disappointing, because that tells me right off the bat that this album wasn’t recorded as live and organic as possible the way Apocalyptic Love was.
Getting to the music, the album’s opening title track World On Fire admittedly took a few listens to really love, though at no point did I ever dislike it. It has been all over rock radio, so if you listen to the right stations you’ve likely heard it. It’s fast and to the point, a pretty standard hard rock song. It’s the chorus that makes the song special, with Myles’s vocal harmonies being as magical as they’ve always been for followers of his voice.
The entire album is a pretty standard hard rock album, a bit heavier than Apocalyptic Love, but not necessarily as diverse. Shadow Life has a very dark feel to it when listening to it closely enough, darker than most Slash related songs that I can think of. Automatic Overdrive was the first song to really make me feel World on Fire is a special album. The Slash guitar riffs that have caught the ears of devoted rock lovers for 25 years, such as Sweet Child O’ Mine, Fall To Pieces and for the more diehard fans tracks like Don’t Damn Me and Double Talkin’ Jive are ever present in this song, and just like so many of his previous songs from his vast amount of bands, it’s the guitar playing that makes Automatic Overdrive as great as it is.
Wicked Stone has a bit of a driving force to it; a nice steady riff and a very Slash-esque rhythm to it that reminds me a bit of Rocket Queen. Then there is the song 30 Years To Life which finally brings Slash’s infamous blues influence to the forefront of the songs intro, playing slide guitar in a bluesy style that no modern guitarist could have come up with before the song goes in to a fast paced rocker with just the right vocal melodies that only Myles could deliver so perfectly, making for what is easily one of the top songs on the album.
World on Fire has a few ballads and slower songs to it. The first of which is Bent To Fly, a slow and heartfelt song with power to its chorus, and guitar fills heard in just the right places. Battleground is what I think Slash intended to be the pride and joy of the albums ballads. It is a seven minute epic that doesn’t feel like seven minutes (in that it feels shorter), which is always a good thing. Musically the song is one of the most heartfelt songs I feel Slash has made since the 2004 Velvet Revolver classic Fall To Pieces and Myles’s singing is just absolutely top notch. Without a doubt his best work on the entire album. Iris of the Storm is probably the heaviest of the slow songs on the album, but it is still softer and more heartfelt than just about any other song on the album and has a great guitar riff that drives the song so well. The bridge kind of loses me though.
You would hope an album with seventeen tracks would come without any filler/skip-able tracks. But realistically in seventeen tracks there has to be at least one right? Unfortunately there are a few. Stone Blind has the guitar playing to win over some fans, and the verses aren’t totally bad or anything, but ultimately the song is forgettable in my eyes, mainly because of its chorus that just manages to lose me. Too Far Gone is the opposite in that its chorus makes me want to love the song, but the rest of the song just doesn’t have enough to it to be memorable. The instrumental Safari Inn also falls under filler category. Slash hasn’t done many instrumentals in his career, I can only think of two off the top of my head, and they’ve never really been anything special. In the case of Safari Inn, it provides a good opportunity for Slash to show off a bit, have a little fun, but it is ultimately a song that the album could have done without.
I wouldn’t call Beneath The Savage Sun a filler track. I commemorate Slash stepping out of his usual comfort zone to make what is one of the darkest songs on the album, but I just don’t entirely like the track. It changes pace at many points, going from slow to sludgy to mid paced slash-esque hard rock then to a familiar chorus, which in many ways makes it the best written song on the album, yet I just can’t find comfort in listening to it.
Things get back to normal with Withered Delilah. It doesn’t stick the way earlier songs on the album have, but it is more catchy than the tracks that precede it, mainly thanks to its guitar riff. It gets things back on track, ever so temporarily, as its followed by Battleground, which I’ve already praised, which is then followed by Dirty Girl, which much like Withered Delilah isn’t one that hooks you the way other songs on the album have, but it has something to it that makes it better than just another filler track. The tracks to gradually get better as Avalon starts playing, though it does fall under filler category it is followed by the last great song on the album, The Dissident. With its undeniably catchy hook The Dissident almost makes up for the skip-able to barely adequate songs that have plagued the middle of World on Fire.
World on Fire ends with the darkest of dark songs on the album, The Unholy. The song is so effectively dark that it doesn’t even have to be heavy to get that point across. I like the song as a closer to the album because it sounds nothing like anything else on the album. I may have picked a song with a bit more punch to it to end World on Fire, but The Unholy lingers in your memory well enough to close the album.
I’m indifferent about World on Fire. It deserves a high rating because the songs that are good on the album are just fantastic, but at the same time there are just so many songs that the album would have done just fine without. I think there are six songs on the album, and that’s a reasonable number, that make little to no impact, but then you have songs like Battleground and 30 Years to Life that show that Slash has still got it. And when comparing the album to Apocalyptic Love, just forget about it. Slash brought back new meaning to the rock record with Apocalyptic Love that World on Fire doesn’t come close to matching. In short, I’m personally disappointed on World on Fire as a whole while agreeing that some songs on the album are some of the best music Slash has written and recorded in his entire career.
“The Dissident” – This may be kind of a surprise choice, I don’t know, because it’s heard so late in the album. Maybe others would choose a song like World on Fire or Automatic Overdrive (the latter I was really close to picking instead) but I just can’t help but think of this song every time I think of the album. It has that pop rock hook heard both in the main guitar riff and in Myles’s vocal woah’s during the chorus that I just love. The song also has a funny intro to make matters even better. It’s not as hard rocking of a song as others on World On Fire, but it’s just as well written, if not better, than many of the album’s best songs.
7.5 (Out of 10)
|1.||“World on Fire”||4:31|
|5.||“30 Years to Life”||5:08|
|6.||“Bent to Fly”||4:56|
|8.||“Too Far Gone”||4:07|
|9.||“Beneath the Savage Sun”||5:48|
|13.||“Iris of the Storm”||4:00|