Contraband is, in fact, tighter and hotter in construction and attack than we had any right to expect from a band that started out auditioning vocalists while being filmed for a VH1 reality show. Weiland and the emeritus Gunners are not shy about flashing pedigree: "Sucker Train Blues" opens the album with zooming-underwater bass, pneumatic gallop and flying chunks of superfuzz guitar — Appetite for Destruction in miniature — while Weiland pulls out his police-bullhorn-style bark from STP's "Sex Type Thing." But the chorus harmonies are closer to dirty Def Leppard, and Weiland's searing, monotonic chant — more evil monk than howling wolf — takes you right to the center of his very public hell: "Brain and body melting while there's roaches multiplying/It's the alien infection, it's the coming of Christ." For a guy routinely lampooned as a walking rehab failure, Weiland nails the sweet selfish oblivion and dumb-ass self-destruction of addiction with explosive clarity and no jive excuses. Rollingstone