Velvet Revolver just might single-handedly bring back the ascendance of arena rock. From lead singer Scott Weiland’s pained and anxious vocals to Slash’s epic guitar splatter, to Matt Sorum’s solid trash can drumming, this super group put together the high-profile remains of Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots to forge an identity of their own. While 2004’s Contraband
was a flashy, swaggering beginning, grafting Weiland’s elegant glam rock sneer to the GNR behemoth sound, one was always conscious of a great divide between the two aesthetics. On Libertad
they have breached that gap and have gelled as a heaving, strutting rock dirigible with their own rather fascinating histories and missteps, instead of harkening back to their parent bands. Weiland thrills with his romantic fixations and fascination with Jim Morrison on “Let It Roll,” which references the Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” and his inamorata’s pouty lips. Meanwhile “She Mine” is a dissonant rant with unbidden drum fills and leering big guitars that reminds one how dangerous and threatening rock can be with its metaphysical hazards and obsessions—something that has always characterized the best rock bands from the Rolling Stones to the Stooges. On Libertad
that mania doesn’t seem forced—in fact nothing seems to be. There’s a lazy, unstudied cool about most of these songs, just like Slash himself.