Thrash Hits

November 15th, 2008

Album: Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy

guns n roses band promo photo axl rose slash duff mckagan izzy stradlin matt sorum

Guns N’ Roses
Chinese Democracy
Geffen
24 November 2008

by Raziq Rauf

How much idle conjecture has there been over Chinese Democracy? Axl Rose has had 17 years to turn this vanity project into absolute gold. It has to be a masterpiece. It has to be the best album of the 21st century.

I say “vanity project” because Rose is the only founding member remaining in Guns N’ Roses. I say “vanity project” because he has taken 17 bloody years to write one album!

After all this time, it would be a travesty to give the fans exactly what they’re expecting, and by and large, the fans are expecting an album which sounds like Guns N’ Roses. Axl always maintained that he was taking his time in order to create something new; something special.

guns n roses chinese democracy album cover packshot artwork thrash hits

This year has already seen albums from two of the greatest hard rock bands of the lasats twenty years. Metallica went back to their roots and AC/DC decided to retain the usage of the words “Rock” and “Black” in as many songs as possible.

Both albums were hugely successful. Neither album reinvented either band’s sound.

The last proper thing we heard from Gn’R was in 1999 when they contributed the huge, overblown, industrial-sounding ‘Oh My God’ to the End Of Days soundtrack. It sounded promising. It gave us the hope that Chinese Democracy wasn’t far away. Oh how we laugh now.

Watch the video to ‘November Rain’ by Guns N’ Roses

The next thing we hear is the title track from Chinese Democracy. It sounds like Marilyn Manson playing The Darkness’ ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’. Everybody shrugged and said the rest of the album will be great. The rest of the album had to be great.

‘Shackler’s Revenge’ follows on with the electronic, industrial theme but does it better than the single. The fantastically meaty production is the first thing that hits you and Axl is starting to sound a bit more like Axl.

‘Better’ is an evasive musical manoeuvre as a gentle intro makes way for an explosion. The song grows and grows and could definitely work with a video. Single alert!

Another leftward shift is found on ‘There Was A Time’. Judging by the production notes, it’s the song that had the most time spent on it but it sounds nothing like what you might expect from Guns. Rolling thunder and the sound of thousands of cans of fizzy pop are opening. Interesting song.

The bass-driven ‘Riad N’ Bedouins’ and the superbly heavy ‘Scraped’ are mid-album pleasers but their unfamiliarity in both sound and style means that the full effect of these songs will only be felt in a few months, if indeed the album draws us in enough for a repeat listen.

Watch the video to ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ by Guns N’ Roses

‘If The World’ could be a Bond theme, but it isn’t. It’s not ‘Live & Let Die’ or ‘Goldfinger’ but it’s definitely going for the same theme. Indeed, Oscar-tipped spy drama, Body Of Lies has it on its soundtrack. Not Bond though, is it.

It’s like Axl Rose has the ambition and he has the quality and he definitely has had the time, but he just hasn’t maximised the potential. Every track seems to miss the mark a bit. Instead of hitting the bright yellow bullseye, the arrow flies into the red, or even the blue.

What has Axl Rose done with Guns N’ Roses? He has made that new(ish) sound that he wanted in the most part but then you get tracks like ‘Catcher In The Rye’ (you’ll be singing along to this) and ‘Madagascar’ (the new, less good ‘November Rain’) which sound like the Gn’R that we know.

axl rose guns n roses live

Is that really what we want, though? Is that really what Axl Rose spent all this time doing? After all, he crushed Slash by turning down his work in favour of a new direction. To retain the old sound would be to turn the Chinese Democracy into a long-awaited hypocrisy.

Axl’s voice means that it still definitely does sound like Guns, but the solos seem tacked on. It’s like Rose couldn’t find riffs up to Slash’s standards so he trawled the LA guitarists-with-one-name agency and only got Buckethead and Bumblefoot. Not quite the same.

You will buy Chinese Democracy. You will listen to it as soon as you get home. Then you’ll sit there and think disappointedly, “Well, it’s not crap but…” Then it will stay on your CD rack and in your iTunes because you’ll have forgotten about it.

3/6

Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy tracklisting
Chinese Democracy – 4.45
Shackler’s Revenge – 3.39
Better – 4.59
Street Of Dreams – 4.48
If The World – 4.55
There Was A Time – 6.43
Catcher In The Rye – 5.55
Scraped – 3.32
Riad N’ Bedouins – 4.12
Sorry – 6.16
I.R.S. – 4.30
Madagascar – 5.40
This I Love – 5.36
Prostitute – 6.16


Comments

  • http://www.thrashhits.com/ Hugh

    Depressingly accurate.

  • http://www.thrashhits.com Hugh

    Depressingly accurate.

  • Pingback: Raziq Rauf » I just review Chinese Democracy()

  • toni

    This is not Guns N’Roses.

    It’s FakeGNR.

    It sucks!

  • toni

    This is not Guns N’Roses.

    It’s FakeGNR.

    It sucks!

  • Irwan

    Yeah it sucks. Axl is way too selfish and childish,,, GNR is his. And GNR is dead. And so is Axl….

    Oh, i miss the old shit ….

  • Irwan

    Yeah it sucks. Axl is way too selfish and childish,,, GNR is his. And GNR is dead. And so is Axl….

    Oh, i miss the old shit ….

  • Pingback: So I was listening to Chinese Democracy… « Hugh Platt . Com()

  • http://www.asff.com/ Mauricio

    go back to the 80s

    welcome to the 21 century

    GNR CHINESE DEMOCRACY is the future …

  • http://www.asff.com Mauricio

    go back to the 80s

    welcome to the 21 century

    GNR CHINESE DEMOCRACY is the future …

  • Peter

    I’ve read good and bad reviews for this album, and countless people bitching about Axl and his merry men. Such people are tiring. As the review in comment 5 says, millions of people will still go out and buy it, and the majority of haters will still probably at least download the thing and give it a listen.

    I’m gonna wait til it comes out, buy the thing and I’m sure I’ll get some enjoyment out of it.

  • Peter

    I’ve read good and bad reviews for this album, and countless people bitching about Axl and his merry men. Such people are tiring. As the review in comment 5 says, millions of people will still go out and buy it, and the majority of haters will still probably at least download the thing and give it a listen.

    I’m gonna wait til it comes out, buy the thing and I’m sure I’ll get some enjoyment out of it.

  • plissken2013

    Another shitty review. Next!

  • plissken2013

    Another shitty review. Next!

  • http://www.gunsnroses.com/ GNR-FAN

    Shit review, biased. Seems pretty half/half on the reviewing side at the moment.

    I sick of all these people being biased because of the time taken/old band new band thing or slash. Listen to the music for music, it’s bloody brilliant.

  • http://www.gunsnroses.com GNR-FAN

    Shit review, biased. Seems pretty half/half on the reviewing side at the moment.

    I sick of all these people being biased because of the time taken/old band new band thing or slash. Listen to the music for music, it’s bloody brilliant.

  • BucketFoot

    Chinese Democracy rocks, stop badmouth Axl just to look cool…

    Thia album is very good, a couple of songs are masterpiece and there’s no filler in my opinion.

    Go ahead WAR!

  • BucketFoot

    Chinese Democracy rocks, stop badmouth Axl just to look cool…

    Thia album is very good, a couple of songs are masterpiece and there’s no filler in my opinion.

    Go ahead WAR!

  • http://www.last.fm/user/faustshausuk dale

    Honestly? I like it. I don’t love it. I don’t sorta like it. I certainly don’t hate it. I like it.

    It’s not a Guns N’ Roses album. Anyone who expected it to be is a fool – but then, no two albums were ever the same anyway, so it’s not like an album without Slash and Izzy would share *any* common threads bar that voice.

    Honestly, it sounds way more like Use Your Illusion I and II would have sounded if Axl had more clout when they were recorded. ‘My World’ was a fucking dead giveaway of where he wanted to go, the signs were all there. The entire thing is pure, unadulterated Axl ego.

    Given the amount of hands that were dipped into it at some point in time, it’s turned out way better than it had any right to.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/faustshausuk dale

    Honestly? I like it. I don’t love it. I don’t sorta like it. I certainly don’t hate it. I like it.

    It’s not a Guns N’ Roses album. Anyone who expected it to be is a fool – but then, no two albums were ever the same anyway, so it’s not like an album without Slash and Izzy would share *any* common threads bar that voice.

    Honestly, it sounds way more like Use Your Illusion I and II would have sounded if Axl had more clout when they were recorded. ‘My World’ was a fucking dead giveaway of where he wanted to go, the signs were all there. The entire thing is pure, unadulterated Axl ego.

    Given the amount of hands that were dipped into it at some point in time, it’s turned out way better than it had any right to.

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