New album shines

Brian Pauline and Brian Pauline

Powerhouse rock alumni former Guns and Roses lead guitarist Slash, bassist Duff Mckagan and drummer Matt Sorum, set out to repave the highway into rock and roll history. Scott Weiland ex-Stone Temple Pilots frontman mans the controls of the massive melodic machine that is Velvet Revolver.

Fortunately audiences are not forced to relive Slash’s glory days from Use Your Illusion One or Two.

The band’s first attempt, “Contraband”, is quite possibly the most anticipated rock record of the summer debuting in the number one slot on the Billboard chart. Serious guitars and drums fit supremely together allowing for Slash’s signature style and tone to seep through.

Weiland’s aggressive vocal assault is more reminiscent of late Stone Temple Pilots blending with Slash’s thick riffs and skull crushing leads to create a uniquely new sound. Weiland will always croon of his struggles with kicking his long fought addiction to drugs, periodically dodging rehab just in time to get snatched for violating his probation, this album is no different.

The eighth song “Superhuman”, charts this battle with himself and his desire to be someone bigger and better. I’m a Superman/ I wanna be your Superman…Always feel like she’s running on a hamster wheel/ Getting high, crashing cars and makin mistakes/ Keepin her face packed with cocaine/ Her face is numb your faith is gone/ I’m traveling on now/ I’m makin plans now/ Cocaine/ Alcohol/ Lady-lay/ Withdrawl.

While the listener is able to make clear references to older GNR riffs with touches of Slash’s expertise, none is more obvious than the rock ballad “Fall To Pieces.” The mid tempo, heavy number showcases a “Sweet Child O’ Mine” type lead with a “November Rain” vibe. At any moment during the song Slash could leap on top of a piano lit up with spot lights while his top hat bobs vicariously low. Slash absolutely tears up the leads in the first song “Sucker Train Blues” and with driving buzz saw-like intensity in my personal favorite “Headspace.”

Just as the album starts to get monotonous, drudging through cut after cut of jack-swigging favorites, the first single “Slither” surfaces like a breath of fresh air. The most dynamic and well put together song on the record, it will be difficult to outdo Revolver’s first-impressionable hit. The revolving guitar line fuses together with flashy drum hits and Weiland’s distinct rock vocals.

It will be interesting to see if this band can outlast the success and failures of its member’s previous attempts and trek on into the future. Contraband receives a ‘B’.