The album artwork of Slash’s third solo effort, World on Fire, contains a mildly disturbing amalgam of deformed pop culture characters—Spongebob, The Simpsons and Ronald McDonald, just to name a few—that sets the tone for the top-hatted rocker’s newest release. Like the cover, Slash’s second consecutive album, featuring singer, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, is densely packed and contains a large variety of songs centered around common themes—throwback hard rock, catchy guitar riffs, and electric solos.
The solos and riffs are certainly plentiful; containing 17 songs and clocking in at 77 minutes, listening to the album in its entirety is a daunting task. While it could stand to shed a few songs, the album flows nicely. It begins with the aptly-named lead single “World on Fire,” as its breakneck pace coupled with its pounding drums and crunchy guitar riff makes me want to commit arson. While it feels a tad generic, it still harkens back to the days of Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver.
Other tracks such as “Automatic Overdrive,” “Too Far Gone,” “Withered Delilah” and “Avalon” follow the same formula as the lead single: fast-paced, chord-driven and loud. Because of this, these songs end up feeling repetitive and tend to blend together. With that being said, they still make me want to punch a hole in my desk and they’re an enjoyable way to get fired up for a weekday night of reading Plato and Aristotle or pretending like I understand calculus.
The album truly shines, however, when Slash & Co. slow down and groove. “Safari Inn” is a bluesy instrumental track that allows Slash to showcase himself uninterrupted. “Bent to Fly” begins with an acoustic, picking intro that carries into the verses. The mellow verses contrast nicely with the wall of distortion created by Slash and the shrieking of Myles Kennedy in the chorus. Similarly, the album closer “The Unholy” uses the restraint of Slash and Kennedy to create an emotional, dark and eerie end to the album.
Lyrically, Kennedy covers a variety of topics. “30 Years to Life” is the most lyrically complex and adventurous song on the album, telling the cautionary tale of a convict finally repenting for his crimes “Serving 30 years to life / What I did, I can't deny / Now the sorrow in my heart will never fade.” “Bent to Fly” is about starting a new life (perfect for college students) “Mama don't you cry, don't you worry / I cannot stay here any longer,” while “The Unholy” is a scathing, seven-minute attack on a father who has shattered the lives of those around him “How can you justify? They loved you / Now father, don't deny / You took them like a sacrifice / We finally know the truth about you.”
World on Fire is classic Slash: it’s energetic, aggressive and it contains guitar riffs and solos that only the former Guns N' Roses guitarist could play. Slash is mostly content with following the formula of 2012’s well-received Apocalyptic Love, and this album serves as a worthy follow-up. While it’s at times too dense and repetitive, Slash creates a variety of songs that combine to form an aggressive yet nuanced album. Slash isn’t trying to revolutionize rock and roll; he’s perfectly fine with simply setting it ablaze.