Bravely making his way through life with never a thought to the Scottish slang meaning of his stage name, British-born, Los Angeles-raised guitar icon Saul Hudson has found it hard to shake the “…of Guns N’ Roses fame” tag. It’s been 18 years since he left the band, 50 per cent longer than he was in it, but of his extensive roster of later side projects, only the mid-2000s supergroup Velvet Revolver has achieved anything like a similar degree of commercial visibility.
World On Fire
This is his third solo album in six years, and the second on which he’s co-credited on the sleeve with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Kennedy, lead singer with rock outfit Alter Bridge, does an impressive job on vocals, not so much because he emulates Axl Rose’s tone but because his own hoary yell is rich in the kind of histrionic flourishes needed to compete with Slash’s juggernaut playing.
They may play exactly to type, but the best moments of this album are the entirely unmitigated ones, like the grisly lurch of Beneath The Savage Sun or the fret-eroding overkill of Wicked Stone or Withered Delilah.
As with those titles, there’s a certain kitsch guilty pleasure to the most overdriven passages of World On Fire, although the album does stray towards unwelcome and bombastically proggy territory as it nears its end: see Iris Of The Storm and The Unholy as particularly overplayed examples.
Then, of course, there are a couple of wistful semi-acoustic interludes, like the kind which disrupt Battleground’s churning flow, but these will most likely leave the listener wondering what right quiet has to invade their ears amid such an onslaught.