Chinese Democracy review by Guns N' Roses

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  • Released: Nov 23, 2008
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 5.7 Decent
  • Users' score: 7.2 (847 votes)
Guns N' Roses: Chinese Democracy
0

Sound — 6
Any album that has been closely monitored and scrutinised for the better part of 2 decades is never going to live up to the expectation, no matter whose album it is or how good it is. So to ask whether this lives up to the hype is extremely unfair. But that's not to say I think this album is particularly worthy of the hype it has received. From start to finish, this album screams over-production. It is adventurous at times, it is unique at times. But for the most part, it's a bit too much. Axl's voice still sounds great, considering the amount of abuse his vocal chords must take with his method of singing (and the fact that he's now 46 years old). It's bound to dither with age, but it still stands up and it's still recognizable. The guitaring throughout the album is pretty good and it's clear that many different players performed on 'Chinese Democracy' - there doesn't seem to be a distinct style across any of the tracks... which isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, you only have to look at the production notes to see just how many people were involved in this record. As a huge fan of Slash I've refrained from jumping on the "it's nowhere near as good as Slash' bandwagon because I don't think it's intended to sound like Slash. The apparent reason for Slash's departure from Guns (apart from finally getting fed up of Axl's growing need for control and erratic behaviour) was down to musical direction: Slash wanted to keep making records that oozed raunch and sleaze like Appetite For Destruction; whereas Axl wanted to experiment a little more, see what other sounds could be achieved, get into the electronics a bit more (as unsuccessfully portrayed in Use Your Illusion II's 'My World'). If Axl Rose were to come out and produce an album that sounded very much the same as the old Guns N' Roses, he'd pretty much be a hypocrite. Thankfully he hasn't done that; he's stuck to his guns (excuse the pun) and released an album of material that differs from anything Guns N' Roses fans were used to. But at the end of the day, maybe it's just too different.

Lyrics — 5
One of Axl Rose's greatest attributes for me has always been his ability to produce fantastic lyrics. But I have to agree with some of the other reviewers that his lyrics are a bit hit-and-miss on 'Chinese Democracy'. Considering the amount of time this album has been in the works, I think many people expected really profound content. Unfortunately, it just isn't there. I think the lyrics, as with everything else on this album, have been over-produced. And this is more of a personal preference than anything else, but I used to love the old Axl Rose lyrics that were "f**k this" and "f**ck that". It suited his personality. But that has all but gone. There are only one or two explicit lyrics so far that I've picked up on in 'Chinese Democracy'. I'm not saying I condone potty-mouthed lyrics, but I think they fit perfectly with Axl Rose's demeanour and style. Sorry, Axl Rose's OLD demeanour and style.

Overall Impression — 6
Some tracks on 'Chinese Democracy' have been around for so many years now that it seems Axl's had too much time to make "refinements" to them. A lot of the earlier versions of some of these songs were much better, in my personal opinion. However, the more I listen to this record, the more it grows on me (at the moment, at least). Maybe if I were to write another review in 2 months' time my rating would be considerably different. There are a lot of people out there who are slating this album - comments like "this isn't a classic GN'R album it's an Axl Rose album" and "it's nothing like Appetite" are all over the Internet. To a certain extent I agree with these statements, but not entirely. If this album is compared to Appetite For Destruction or even the Use Your Illusion albums, then yes it is a long way away from the band we used to love. But this IS a Guns N' Roses album, albeit a different incarnation of Guns N' Roses. Having seen this particular version of the band perform live, I feel that I'm qualified to say that Axl Rose is the only remnant of the former GN'R left, and beyond that this is a new band producing entirely different material (Dizzy Reed isn't an original member of GN'R so I'm including him as "new"). There is a lot of talent in the new version of the band (particularly Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal), but I don't think they quite work as "Guns N' Roses". There have been too many personnel changes to really call this a band anyway, you might say. But if this album is considered as a standalone piece, nothing to do with "Guns N' Roses" then it has sparks of really good potential. Some tracks do leave you wondering "how the hell did this take 17 years to produce?!", tracks such as 'Shackler's Revenge', 'If The World' and 'I.R.S.' are poor songs by anyone's standards, not just Axl Rose. But then we have songs like 'Better', 'Street Of Dreams' and 'This I Love' which are, at times, brilliant. I'm still confused as to why 'Sorry' was ever written and recorded, because for me it doesn't really fit with anything else on this album. I like it, it's a good song, but it just doesn't fit well. I think overall, 'Chinese Democracy' has moments of ingenuity and potential, but none of the ponce and swagger that has previously been associated with Axl Rose and "Guns N' Roses". There are too many poor songs for the good ones to save. Rose has constantly been seeking 'the perfect album', but perfection is a matter of opinion. And in my opinion, 'Chinese Democracy' is some way away from perfect.

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    justpeteau
    Buckethead better than Slash, very true, alot of players are but he and Robyn Finck, Rob Fortus and Bumble foot are not better for GnR. And yea Bands Like Megadeath, Iron Maiden, Opeth, Rose Tattoo, Motorhead all have a'controlling member' and haemorrage members all the time this is also very true. However the music they produce is consistant, style wise and generally quality wise, if it isnt they lose fans and have trouble luring them back or snaring new ones because people dont like inconsistancy. so when a GnR fan buys a G n R album..he ****ing well wants a G n R album. Why do you think Metallica pissed so many people off? If i go to the shop and buy a Coke I know it is gonna tast like Coke. If it tastes like ...say Dr Pepper.... Im gonna want some answers!!!!! Same thing. Change the line up put shred king guitarist in the band if u must...even if they leave later on you can keep their material and fool people into thinking they are still in the band, whatever, but keep the style close to what your loyal fans expect..of they will want answers!!!!!
    blink182plus44
    I'm not sure why you all love it so much. I don't really like GnR but their old stuff is beautiful compared to this. I listened to the samples on iTunes and his voice sounds terrible. Completely terrible.
    mate_jebate
    there are some good songs like there was a time and sorry. with others im not that impressed. but what i like is the sound, the sound on the album is just great, and also i like some guitar licks. and also i must say that you are just bull... when you say that axls voice is terrible. his voice may be terrible live, but on this album its great (mostly done by a computer i dont beleve that he can sing this good live)
    gnfnr4thewin
    Look, we have to stop comparing to "old GNR". I am a huge "Old GNR" fan, but I think this Album is terrific. If VR was called GNR I'm pretty sure Weiland would be torn apart being compared to Axl. If you buy the album, scribble out the band name, forget there was ever a band called Guns n' Roses, and enjoy the tunes. Relax, someday there'll be a kick ass reunion!
    ALLCINGI
    nofishxing wrote: ALLCINGI wrote: F@#! the Haters .If you dont like it dont listen to it . F@#! music critics too .F@#! all the people that bought this album and then BITCH about it.I'm sorry for you ,not sorry for me.BUNCHA'BITCH'ASS'HOES'YOU'ALL'IS'BE'DAMN'IM'OUT'LATE and THIS is why the current generation sucks. wish i wasnt part of it. you all is be damn im out late. what. the hell. i think you have to TRY to sound that uneducated.
    Sory i is be not getin an educajun i is retarded neva i is wil post agin
    tesla_fan
    for all those who saythis isnt guns ....think of who named the band axl rose .....tracy guns.....axl is guns.....slash was auditioning for poison when axl came up with the name and btw velvet revolver sucks..stiil caught in the 80s
    zirdox
    In my own opinion this album is by far superior to any rock today. And it makes VR look like a high-school band comapared to the huge sound of Chinese Democracy. The production should make Metallica say.. "Oops.. shit we ****ed Death Magnetic up" - that's how a record should sond. The whole discussion about the GNR name... Argh forget about it. GNR was always 70% Axl Rose. The highlight is absolutely "This I Love". In 17 years there hasn't been ONE! single with that much power.
    beanhead
    mate_jebate wrote: there are some good songs like there was a time and sorry. with others im not that impressed. but what i like is the sound, the sound on the album is just great, and also i like some guitar licks. and also i must say that you are just bull... when you say that axls voice is terrible. his voice may be terrible live, but on this album its great (mostly done by a computer i dont beleve that he can sing this good live)
    saw him live in uk in '06, axl was on form. he announced his earpiece was ****ed n cud not hear but he still tore it up. epic
    beelaal85
    I think this review is second to 'Death Magnetic' with most comments. Seems like the world has more Metallica fans, then comes GNR's.
    mate_jebate
    maybe death magnetic has more comments becouse it is out 2 months and chinese democracy not even a week.
    not_dead_enough
    justpeteau wrote: Buckethead better than Slash, very true, alot of players are but he and Robyn Finck, Rob Fortus and Bumble foot are not better for GnR. And yea Bands Like Megadeath, Iron Maiden, Opeth, Rose Tattoo, Motorhead all have a'controlling member' and haemorrage members all the time this is also very true. However the music they produce is consistant, style wise and generally quality wise, if it isnt they lose fans and have trouble luring them back or snaring new ones because people dont like inconsistancy. so when a GnR fan buys a G n R album..he ****ing well wants a G n R album. Why do you think Metallica pissed so many people off? If i go to the shop and buy a Coke I know it is gonna tast like Coke. If it tastes like ...say Dr Pepper.... Im gonna want some answers!!!!! Same thing. Change the line up put shred king guitarist in the band if u must...even if they leave later on you can keep their material and fool people into thinking they are still in the band, whatever, but keep the style close to what your loyal fans expect..of they will want answers!!!!!
    If you want Coke, buy Coke. If you want Appetite for Destruction, buy Appetite for Destruction. I'm sure when Vanilla Coke came out, had you tried it, and it tasted exactly like old Coke, you'd be disappointed.
    beanhead
    if axl took the guns n roses name off the album and released it 10 years ago, we would be discussing a immense album. lets forget the band of the 80s/early 90s and surely we can agree on a great vocal display and versatile song writing. i m gutted that it doesnt have the intensity of old gnr, but i got over that like 5 years ago. still worth a listen n still glad i spent a tenner on it. agree??