4 is the fourth album by Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. The record features production work from Dave Cobb, with the band including Todd Kerns, Frank Sidoris, and Brent Fitz.
Ever since APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION from Guns N Roses hit in 1987, Saul “Slash” Hudson has been one of the most in-demand rock guitarists there is. In over 30 years, that fact hasn’t changed. From GNR and Snakepit to Velvet Revolver, and more recently, his own material, he’s continued to create iconic rock riffs, rocking stages around the globe.
As the fourth studio album from Slash that features Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators (technically his fifth solo album if one includes the effort from 2010 that included guest musicians, including Kennedy, and seventh if one includes Slash’s Snakepit), it’s clear that this quintet is going strong and has truly found their groove, so to speak. With these musicians in tow, this has become Slash’s best band since the glory days of GNR, and that’s no small feat.
With so much studio work from Slash with this band already, what’s left to prove? As 4 proves, quite a bit actually! The biggest surprise regarding 4 is that the band opts for a “live in the studio” approach as opposed to the more typical multi-track recording process bands usually utilize when putting together work in a studio setting. This benefits the process, giving it a much rawer and live feel than early albums. The record clocks in at just under 45 minutes and only features 10 songs, with the vinyl release fitting on only a single LP. This “short and sweet” approach benefits the process more than hinders it.
And what about the actual songs themselves? Opening track and single “The River is Rising” does a damn fine job of roping the listener in for this rock riff-driven odyssey, which still manages to be quite diverse and strong musically despite its relative brevity compared to other releases. The biggest strength of Slash’s most recent work is that he doesn’t rely on nostalgia. Sure, most people probably still know Slash from his time in GNR, but he’s created a modern rock sound all his own here with a superb band.
Myles Kennedy is a fantastic vocalist with a distinct singing style who brings these tracks to life and gives them a soul they wouldn’t have in the hands of a lesser songsmith. Just as impressive are the other members of the group, including the solid rhythm section of Todd “Dammit” Kerns (Age of Electric, Toque) on bass and Brent Fitz (Union) behind the drum kit, as well as second guitarist Frank Sidoris. My one minor issue with the album is it doesn’t give Kerns a chance to show off his pipes as a lead vocalist; if you hear Slash’s live releases or have listened to any of this guy’s other albums/projects/bands, you know he’s a damn good singer. Let’s hope he’ll have more chances to show off vocally the next time around. Fortunately, that’s really my only issue with 4, and it’s a minor one.
4 shows us Slash isn’t going anyway anytime soon. The “live in the studio” approach the quintet takes this time around makes for some of their rawest and best music in years, and fans of everyone's favorite top hat-clad axeman won’t be disappointed in the least with the results here.
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!