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Slash is back. That's not to say the renowned guitarist just got out of rehab or jail or, well, actually went anywhere physically. But after a lengthy career that has found him dabbling in blues, hard melodic rock, and various shades of metal, as well as working with artists as diverse as Michael Jackson, the Black-Eyed Peas' Fergie, Dave Grohl, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Ozzy Osbourne, and Alice Cooper, Slash has returned to his roots.
Apocalyptic Love, Slash's latest album, is perhaps the closest thing to his early glam-metal days with Guns N' Roses and the "comeback period" power metal of Velvet Revolver that he's mustered up in some time. The album is varied yet cohesive, mixing classic hair metal, blistering hard rock, bluesy interludes, and power ballads filled with his trademark guitar riffs and searing solos. Slash's performance is fluid and relaxed, as if — despite the continuing accolades ranking him as one of the greatest guitarists of all time — he's finally been able to ease into a comfort zone.
"This is the first time where I feel like I'm in the saddle and riding my own destiny with some genuine focus," Slash (real name Saul Hudson) says in a press release promoting the album.
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His band, Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators (Kennedy on vocals, Todd Kerns on bass, and Brent Fitz on drums), helps make this possible. The trio first joined Slash as his touring band for his previous album, Slash, which featured guest appearances from dozens of artists but certainly couldn't be replicated for a full-fledged tour. But the live shows, which generally received high marks from critics, showed that the band's connection was a powerful one. This was even more apparent for Slash and Kennedy, the Alter Bridge frontman, as the pair began collaborating on new songs almost immediately — many of which ended up on Slash.
"I'd jot down chords and concepts and play them for Myles," Slash says. "He would automatically adhere to whatever the track was and add these great melodies and lyrics. We started putting these basic arrangements together and the songs appeared."
With the exception of vocal overdubs by Kennedy — who played rhythm guitar during the recording sessions and came back later to add his voice — the bulk of the album was captured live in the studio, so what one hears on disc should closely mirror the concert experience.
But it might not have looked that way to the casual observer hanging out at Barefoot Recording Studios in Hollywood, where the album was recorded by producer Eric Valentine. Slash was actually sequestered in a special glass chamber Valentine constructed — the Slash Box — in the center of the room. He could hear and see the band live and play along, but with enough separation to let him focus on creating the perfect solo or riff.
"It was important to capture the essence in that big room, because as long as I've been doing studio recording, I've always wanted to keep my guitar tracks from the actual live playing with the band," Slash adds. "I could play my parts and solos and still see the band, which worked great."
In concert, of course, there's no Slash Box, and the guitarist, with his trademark top hat, will make the most of the cozy Celebrity Theatre stage as the band works through material from all facets of Slash's career.
And if the band's performance is on par with the energy of the new album, it should be one hell of a night.