The Five Songs You Must Hear From Slash’s New Album
With 17 songs clocking in at a whopping 77 minutes, Slash‘s new album is quite a lot to digest at once. Maybe too much, in fact. As a helpful starting point, here’s five ‘World on Fire’ tracks you’ll want to be sure not to miss. We’ll forgive the former Guns N’ Roses legend for violating our “Does it really need to be longer than ‘Sticky Fingers?'” rule. We get it, we’re old farts, and those days have been over since the birth of the compact disc. But the album’s best songs are scattered all over the place, with several even tucked way back on what some of us still call “side four.” So here’s our guide to the best ‘World on Fire’ has to offer:
It’s been more than 20 years since Slash played live with Guns N’ Roses. But as with Robert Plant, Paul McCartney and countless other rock legends, the shadow of his former band will always loom large over his solo work. Luckily, the mop-topped guitar hero seems to be at peace with this fact — after all, he’s never wandered too far from the sonic template his former band set in their early days. ‘Wicked Stone’ is one of the best examples of this approach, as a quicksilver opening riff gives way to the chunkiest groove Slash has unleashed since ‘Locomotive,’ way back on 1991’s ‘Use Your Illusion II.’
Of course, sometimes it’s nice to try new things too — which Slash, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators do on this song. ‘Avalon’ features a slight but distinct Celtic music influence, and its yearning, cinematic chorus shows off Kennedy’s voice better than any other track on ‘World on Fire.’
Opening with the tinny, crackling recording of what appears to be an old (but slightly profane) folk song, ‘The Dissident’ goes on to cover a lot of territory in just four minutes. Both bassist Todd Kerns and drummer Brent Fitz are given plenty of time to shine on this track, with Slash stepping back from the spotlight when it suits the music just like everyone else. The “whoa-oh-oh-ooooh-oh-oh-oh” refrain is sure to get stuck in your head, and of course our hero divides his solo time wisely among echoing the chorus melody, wringing soaring high notes out of his guitar and good old-fashioned shredding.
Slash has clearly found a rewarding and successful partnership with Kennedy on their last two albums together. But this instrumental track — which finds the guitarist displaying his most sophisticated, powerful and emotive playing style — can’t help but make us hope that someday he makes an entire album without the help of a singer.
If you’re gonna make an album this big you’re all but obliged to end it with an epic track, and that’s just what Slash and company do with this nearly seven-minute slow-burner. Kennedy channels the low ranges of both Chris Cornell and Scott Weiland during the verses, then escalates into his normal higher range as the music behind him builds in complexity and intensity. Naturally, Slash’s closing guitar solo lifts things even higher into the stratosphere. It’ll be fun to see them tackle this one live.