Slash – 4: Album Review

Slash and his cronies – SMKC no less – get all spontaneous on album #4

Release Date:  11th February 2022

Label: Gibson Records

Formats: CD / digital / vinyl

Not just Slash of course, but featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators. Aka, apparently, as SMKC. This is becoming a habit. A new habit, a good habit and a regular one too. Knocking out decent Hard Rock albums at a rate of knots that Slash’s former crew would have balked at, perhaps Slash is getting more compliant in his old age. Probably not, but Myles and the lads are clearly a good influence.

This time out they’ve captured a certain magic. 4 is the sound of five musicians listening to and playing off one another in the spirit of live, in-the-moment collaboration. “It has a very spontaneous, fun kind of thing to it, and I love that. It’s the sound of the five of us just jamming together in one room,” he says.

Opening cut and album teaser, The River Is Rising is enough to convince that 4 is going to be worth an investment of your time. Three and a half minutes of explosive Hard Rock complete with a couple of wild solos and pacey interludes – what might loosely be termed a banger. With a guitar tone that’s both dirty and unrefined, Whatever Gets You By picks up the thread. It’s carried by a thundering bassline – Todd Kerns’ presence weighs heavily throughout 4 – and there’s a certain way Myles Kennedy phrases the word ‘time’ that has a comfortable familiarity. In fact, there’s even a hint of statuesque Bowie in some of the vocalisms that takes hold in these opening tracks.

The general urgency ensures that the riffs are strong and there’s no shortage of catchy hooks, plenty of swagger and we’re never more than a few bars from a twisting Les Paul lead break. The Path Less Followed is another belter that makes an immediate impression, while the cod Eastern intro to Spirit Love might appear a little discordant, some may be less lenient. Rescue comes in the form of a thick riff and highlights the spirit of letting it roll, warts and all.

Radio pluggers will love the heavy country yet still quite a cool groove on Fill My World – one that verges on the romantic and one that relies on one of those famous Slash guitar figures that threads its way insistently through the track. Things get down, dirty and dangerous on the home run. April Fool (“the joke’s on you”) has a tidy and rather sprightly Grunge riff and the latest single, Call Off The Dogs, swings between lively and visceral. Another classic cut that captures the rawness of the sessions. An angst-ridden nod to something bluesy, Fall Back To Earth provides a low key curtain call as Slash squeezes out a repetitive lead line.

That most famous of rock stars in a top hat – with apologies to Noddy Holder – turns in another shift. He may be back with the main attraction at a stadium near you this Summer, but for a back-to-basics alternative, his semi-solo outings are always entertaining.

Here’s The River Is Rising:

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