Duff McKagan’s Loaded – [Album]

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

At this point – seeing the different directions in which the members of Guns N' Roses have gone, seventeen years after their hiatus began in 1994 – it's incredible to think that Duff McKagan would be the one to boast the most credible band, and have the most consistent output. Duff made a strong return from the GNR wreckage with the one-off all-star group Neurotic Outsiders in 1995 before joining Velvet Revolver in 2002. He survived that band's implosion and briefly joined Jane's Addiction but, upon discovering that the band was headed in a direction he didn't feel comfortable following, amicably departed. Through all of that, Loaded has always been in the background of McKagan's new what next and, once again, he's brought the band back to the foreground with The Taking but it's more than just a return; on this album, Duff McKagan proves he can still really shine.

Listeners will be positively gob-smacked as “Lords Of Abbadon” opens the record with guitars blazing brighter and hotter than they ever have before under McKagan's watch, and the guitarist himself howls with the battlefield command of the sort of seasoned veteran he most certainly is, but has never shown before. The stomping “Executioner's Song” follows hard on the heels of “Lords,” and even makes a genuine play to eclipse that first fantastic effort.

Now this is a side of McKagan we've never seen before. In its early playing, The Taking makes some pretty intoxicating headway and gets listeners both anxious and hopeful that neither the singer nor the band drops the ball.

…And what do you know, they never slip up – not even once? The lack of any lull or softened track anywhere through this dozen-song ride leaves no doubt that McKagan and his band have something to prove, but the real kicker is that they set the bar high early and never fall under it, never phone a song in and never fudge a part for the sake of filling time. Not only that but, while his name's up front in the band's moniker, McKagan doesn't try to play hero on The Taking; guitarists Mike Squires and Jeff Rouse and drummer Isaac Carpenter are all afforded the opportunity to stand up front to be counted next to the singer and play their hearts out, and he gives them all the room they need in the mix of each track. Here, the songs and the desire to give the best performance of them is the goal, and the four-piece nails it whether they're giving up a bit of candor (“Cocaine,” “Dead Skin”) or just rocking hard because it is their will to do so (as in “We Win,” “King Of The World” and “Your Name”).

With this generous performance, Duff McKagan's Loaded just totally blows all of the other former members of Guns N' Roses and their post-GNR dalliances off the line and does so with such ease that this band appears to leave the others standing flat-foot. The Taking is the kind of surprise that fans quietly hoped for from someone in GNR, but that it has finally come and that it's more than anyone could have hoped for is just awesome.



The Taking
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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