Ayo Jegede
reviews editor
June 19, 2004
Amazon Disco:
Contraband Contraband
June 8, 2004
RCA
Contraband Contraband
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Contraband Contraband
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Rock Music Reviews
Velvet Revolver
Contraband

Velvet Revolver is an instance of a band's premise outshining the result. initially titled as 'The Project,' Velvet Revolver is the combination of former Guns N' Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum and former Stone Temple Pilots' lead singer Scott Weiland, whose constant, public struggle with drug addiction offered some initial buzz about the band. also added was former Dave Navarro guitarist Dave Kusher, who inefficaciously creates a bigger wall of sound. the problem with Velvet Revolver and Contraband is that they are not so much a band as a fusion of vestiges and musical empires of yore, and the album is simply a product.

as much as i respect Slash, McKagan, and Sorum as members who helped save Metal from an unfortunate demise, they haven't changed their fundamental formula for well over a decade now. it's a system that was crashing, dynamic, and engaging during the 80's, but merely galumphs its way into the 21st century, weighed down by age. for the most part the album is basically a process of waiting until Slash unleashes a guitar solo while the rest of the band tries to keep occupied in the interim. it worked in the 80's but, as previously mentioned, it hasn't registered to them that certain aspects that were viewed as puissant only seem abusive now.

Weiland sings perfunctorily, absent the melodic aspects he exercised with STP. on STP's No. 4, the DeLeo brothers provided a darkness and thunder that didn't skim on the depth or dimension available, recalling perhaps the same gravitas on any Zeppelin album. in a sense, STP managed to make Weiland more malleable. yet without any melody makers in VR he seems to drone on and on, spurred on by little more than the need to finish a record. he's edgeless and practically directionless on the record, running with lower fuel than we saw on Tiny Music ... Songs From The Vatican.

the artistic failure of this record also underscores another point: its commercial success is based predominantly on the band members and not the music they make. with STP recently dissolved and a Chinese Democracy release date being far less believable than the Lochness Monster and Bigfoot fucking in a Motel 6, any news is good news (that's part of the reason A Perfect Circle's debut did well). still, the sandwiching of two bands doesn't augur the best results. without the necessary chemistry nor originality, it's just a working premise.

Release date: June 8, 2004
Label: RCA
Rating: 3.5 / 10

[RMR]