Album review overview: Slash, Karen Olson and more

Photo (c) Jorge Fakhouri Filho

Dozens of new albums arrive at Maxazine’s editorial staff every week. There are way too many to listen to them all, let alone review them. It ensures that too many albums are left behind. And that’s a shame. That is why today we post an overview of albums that arrive at the editors in short reviews.

Slash – Orgy of the Damned

‘Orgy of the Damned,’ the latest album by Slash, is a lazily made cover album with blues traditionals that have already been played to death by everyone. His new friend Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes delivers a particularly uninspired contribution to the cover of Wayne Axtom’s ‘The Pusher.’ The cliché guitar solo adds nothing and underscores the biggest problem with this album: it doesn’t add anything to the original work. Take Stevie Wonder’s ‘Living for the City’ with Tash Neal, where you might have had some hope. Unfortunately, this too turns out to be a lifeless arrangement that doesn’t rise above the original. It seems like Slash and his guests didn’t make any effort to add something new or interesting to these songs. This pattern repeats throughout the entire album, with each track sounding like a weak imitation of the original. Despite the presence of big names like Iggy Pop, Brian Johnson, Billy Gibbons, Chris Stapleton, and Gary Clark Jr., this album feels more like a hobby project meant to fill Slash’s wallet. The collaboration with these artists could have produced something spectacular, but the result is disappointingly flat and uninspired. Conclusion: ‘Orgy of the Damned’ is a disappointing addition to Slash’s repertoire. It offers no new or interesting angle on classic blues songs and feels like a missed opportunity. Skip it. (Jan Vranken) (5/10) (Snakepit Records)

FM – Old Habits Die Hard

This year, the British rockers celebrate the fact that the band is 40 years old. Since releasing their first album ‘Indiscreet,’ FM has been bringing fresh melodic AOR rock. Their 14th album, ‘Old Habits Die Hard,’ can be seen as a compilation of four decades of FM. Don’t get me wrong. There are no old songs in new guises on this album. All compositions on ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ are brand new, but the vibe is the same as what we’ve been used to from these British rockers for 40 years. The only criticism you could have of this album is that FM plays it very safe. No musical risks are taken; it all sounds typically FM. Nevertheless, you can hear that FM is not playing on autopilot on ‘Old Habits Die Hard.’ Sound, production, and execution are of the highest quality. It may not be adventurous, but FM can be proud of the fact that in the 40 years they have existed, they haven’t made a single mediocre album, and that also applies to ‘Old Habits Die Hard.’ A standout for me is ‘Black Water,’ but there isn’t a single weak track on this album. Melodic rock lovers can dig into their wallets again. (Ad Keepers) (8/10) (Frontiers Music)

Karen Olson – Divine Echoes

Violist Karen Olson, a member of The New York Pops, an American pop-oriented classical orchestra, has released her ninth solo album. With this, she tries to pay tribute to her parents and reflect her connection to nature and the divine. The album features neoclassical violin music meant to bring peace and tranquillity, but some tracks feel a bit saccharine. The opener ‘Sunbeam Smiles’ feels like a cheap attempt to mimic Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold,’ while Michel Pascal’s meditative voice in ‘Skybound Serenade’ and his singing in ‘Pilgrimage Prayer’ and ‘Whispers of Wind’ try to create a calming atmosphere. Try, because the whole thing feels a bit cloying. Despite the good intentions, the album sometimes feels too sentimental and lacks the depth to truly captivate. ‘Divine Echoes’ ultimately feels like another artist’s attempt to release an album “just because they can.” No, as part of a collective, you’re not a solo artist, sorry. (Norman van den Wildenberg) (4/10) (Elevation Pathways LLC)

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