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coverpic flag US - California - Full Moon 96 - 07/31/04

Velvet Revolver
Contraband
BMG Entertainment/RCA

Don't expect the rash polished guitars of Appetite for Destruction, nor the blistering rythmic choral guitar tones of Stone Temple Pilots. Don't even expect that low distraught instrument of Scott Weiland's voice. None of these things are in fact the sound of Velvet Revolver, Rock's newest Superband of the renegades of STP and Guns and Roses.

What should the listener expect? Razor sharp guitar tones and even sharper vocals. Velvet Revolver's debut Contraband, if nothing else is the most rampant and destructive album to come out of a group of recovering alcoholics and heroine addicts. They display an efficient gimmick - Scott Weiland using a megaphone to do a portion of the vocals for the record is quite a stylistic touch. One would expect this kind of dark brutal sound to come out of the Los Angeles underground, not a post-drug era marriage of LA's answer to Van Halen and a Seattle grunge band lead singer.

Yet here it stands, a very dark, thick thing to behold. Weiland's lyrics hold a lot of anxiety surrounded by a reoccuring theme rather than a concept. On several songs Weiland recounts the feelings of "Falling Apart". He sings without that annoying relation to Eddie Vedder which was apparent in STP in their heyday. On Contraband, he's more vicious and high pitched. He fluctuates moods of rage and desire for an unnamed woman character in the Hard Rock environment. Weather or not its a series of different women each he may react differently to, or its a single irritating yet addictive woman, the lyrics simply do not indicate which. With all this, Weiland the rock and roll atmosphere of sex and drugs - something he's been fighting since his days with the Stone Temple Pilots.

Unlike The Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge", none of this seems to be the recollections of a recovering addict. Whatever it is, it serves to paint a picture give an atmosphere. Where many lyrics these days are concentrated on emotion, Weiland evokes impressionism.

At its best Contraband is a balance of atmosphere that is apparent to Velvet Revolver; an atmosphere of dark pulsating hard rock.

Copyright © 2004 Matthew DeMello e-mail address

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