Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chinese Democracy - Guns N' Roses

Before I write anything about the long, long awaited new Gunners album one thing has to be made clear: this is not the Guns N' Roses that we have all grown to love, this is Axl Rose. That's it.

Now that I've got that off my chest let's get into the album shall we?

Chinese Democracy can probably be defined by two words: egotistical and epic.

Let's start with epic: With fourteen tracks clocking in at over seventy minutes this is hardly a short album. Starting from the first track's, Chinese Democracy, build-up intro you gather a good idea of what this album is going to be like, coupled with the fact that this album averages around 5 minutes a song, this isn't an easy album to listen to. An especially difficult song I find to listen to is 'Riad N' the Redouins' which just seems to be a frantic combination of noise by trying to combine screeching cat vocals with some crazy solos.

The main thing that struck me about Chinese Democracy is just how bloody heavy it gets, especially the opening tracks. 'Shackler's Revenge' (which will be available on Rock Band) and 'Better' both have very strong industrial feel evident in their sound thanks to the efforts of legendary guitarist Buckethead, while the latter is probably most attributable to NIN's own guitarist Robert Finck helping out. However 'I.R.S.' stands out for this reason in that it's one of the very few decent songs on the album that has a traditional rock'n'roll feel to it with great screeching guitar leads and interestingly enough some acoustic sections.

With Axl Rose at the helm this wouldn't be a Guns N' Roses album without some power ballads, of which there is no short supply of. If your idea of a Gunner's power ball is 'November Rain' then 'Street of Dreams' and 'This I Love' is something to listen to while 'If the World' is definately one of the more interesting songs on the album combining piano, Spanish guitars, porno grooves and recurring heavy industrial sounds. Another interesting, and catchy, song is 'Sorry' with some very nice licks from whatever guitarist it was (really it's proving to be too much effort to figure it out) as well as Sebastian Bach providing back up vocals.

Now onto the egotisitcal part of the review: Again it has to be stressed that this album is an Axl album, 'Scraped' speaks to this clearly with the lyrics "Don't you try to stop us now/I just refuse/Don't you try to stop us now/Cause I won't just let you" with annoying "A-yo"'s between the lines. Flip through the CD pamphlet and you can count three guitarists, two keyboardists and two drummers in the pictures alone making you realise how much of a dictatorship Rose has over the album and how dispensible everyone else is.

As I said above Chinese Democracy can be described by two words: egotistical and epic. While this may deter some from actually buying the album this is in no way a total write off of the album. The new Guns N' Roses may be swept up in their own might providing a number of sometimes difficult to listen to or just plain boring songs there are a few gems hidden in there which may mature as time trucks on. However I'm personally choosing to keep my hopes up for Slash's solo album emerging this coming year and listening to something less epic.

2.5 stars


Anonymous said...

Dude, only 2 n a half stars?
It definitely could've been better, but it deserves more than that.
Axl's voice is amazing, showing off his range everywhere. Sweet guitar playing (Shackler's Revenge is definitely Buckethead styles).
The second half of "There Was a Time" is some sweet epicness. The album has plenty of tension building stuff, most of the songs being quality listens.
Oh, I quite like Rhiad N' the Bedouins! haha.

One of my gripes is that I would've liked the album to end on an awesome rocker track.
And maybe sometimes Axl tries to do too many different things in one song. (But at least he's pushing boundaries.) Some of the songs progress in a way that feels unnatural - making it feel very different from the GnR of old, but I got used to that after repeated listens. It is a 'grower'.

I'd write my own review but there's so many abstract feelings involved in music that I feel I wouldn't cover all the subtleties and thus wouldn't think my review would explain what I really thought ha.
Anyway, it's definitely good to at least hear Axl doing his thing again.

Maximus said...

Yea to be honest I was actually getting a bit frustrated with the album because it's just too epic for what I feel like at the moment...Gimme a month and I may revise the review.

Also it took me like an hour and a half to write the damn thing so I probably don't make too much sense haha