Libertad

Velvet Revolver are a formidable collection of important figures from 80’s and 90’s hard rock, and this strong mixture of personalities lends their music a certain charisma, even when it isn’t particularly accomplished.

Velvet Revolver are a formidable collection of important figures from 80’s and 90’s hard rock, and this strong mixture of personalities lends their music a certain charisma, even when it isn’t particularly accomplished.

To explain further: much of Libertad is devoid of infectious riffs and melodies, yet it is still imbued with a great deal of power and presence. When the album is played through, only a handful of tracks will have lodged themselves in the listener’s memory, yet it was still a frantic, enjoyable listening experience for its duration. Just not a particularly memorable one.

The record is dominated by brawny, testosterone-fuelled rockers, full of fat, squealing guitar solos and macho posturing. Ex-Stone Temple Pilot Scott Weiland’s vocals possess a certain sullen charm, but lack dynamics and emotional range. Slash’s guitar-playing is technically skilled, yet still steadfastly traditional, and devoid of any real surprises.

There are only a handful of genuinely excellent songs here. ‘American Man’ is a primitive, balls-out rocker in a similar vein to the rest of the record, but is given added depth courtesy of a spooky guitar riff and some echoey maraca clacks. ‘She Mine’ is also cut from the usual Velvet Revolver cloth, but there is actually a strong vocal hook this time, in the bridge to the chorus.

There is also an excellent trio of power ballads – ‘The Last Fight’, ‘Gravedancer’ and ‘Can’t Get It Out Of My Head’ – on which the boys start to exhibit their flair for melody. The last of these three is particularly impressive, but tellingly, it is an ELO cover – though perhaps the Americans deserve some credit for the grand, Queen-esque arrangement.

The unnamed hidden track provides the only real departure, with its country-ish slide guitar and jaunty bar-room piano. The remainder of the record is one-dimensional, and extremely ‘Revolver-by-numbers, but it still possesses something. This band may be going through the motions, but they are doing it with such style and poise that it is difficult not to cherish them.

 

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