Velvet Revolver has been hyped as a much-needed return to real guitar-based music. And thanks, no doubt, to a massive media campaign, the album topped the charts its first week of release. The question is whether the shotgun wedding between Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots is worth more than the sum of its parts. The answer is no. Contraband doesn’t come close to touching Appetite for Destruction, nor is it as good as STP’s most inventive work. But that doesn’t make it a bad listen, just a letdown. Contraband‘s signature moments come on “Sucker Train Blues” and “Big Machine,” which sound like Use Your Illusion karaoke, substituting Appetite melodies for driving beats and flurries of words. Snow flurries, if you know what I mean. Perhaps because Scott Weiland’s vocals were recorded between court dates and rehab stints, he seems lyrically preoccupied with drugs — a redundant theme for this crew. Although Slash is often touted as the riffmeister behind GNR, his post-Guns work has been less than thrilling, a downward trend that continues here. Besides, everyone knows that Izzy wrote most of GNR’s classic tunes, which might help explain why Contraband feels heavy but doesn’t stick to the ribs. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Velvet Revolver is a euphemism for a penis.