Sound — 7
Alright, the first thing I have to say about this album is this: Axl, lose the Appetite for Over-Production. After a 398275 year wait, this record finally drops, and frankly it's weak. I'll break it down track by track. 01.Chinese Democracy: the title track starts with an intro that takes almost as long to get through as the album did to produce. After a painful minute of waiting, it goes into some really crunchy power chords. Axl comes in, and it's great. The lyrics are cool, the solo is great, and the track is pretty solid. 9/10 02.Shackler's Revenge: dear God how I hate this song. From the wannabe Tom Morrello licks to the annoying vocals, this track is rubbish. 2/10 03.Better: this song shines. After you get through the squealy guitar and the annoying falsetto of the intro, it launches into a straight rocker. There are some crunchy power chords providing the rhythm and some sick sweeps in the melody. The first solo is solid shred, and the second one is straight up blues-rock. I can picture Slash playing that second solo, and the rhythm is reminiscent of Izzy. 10/10 04.Street of Dreams: formerly known as "The Blues", this track is a winner. From the "November Rain" piano intro to the tight solo in the middle to Axl's perfect vocals, this song is gold. My favorite on the album. 10/10 05.If the World: this song is annoying. It was released as the closing credit song for the film "Body of Lies", and it feels almost as though it was written for that purpose. It's over-produced, and it's lame. 5/10 06.There Was A Time: this song is saved by the solos. Whoever wrote the chorus should be hanged, it sounds like it was written in a different key than the rest of the song. However, some excellent solos make this song pretty decent. 6/10 07.Catcher N' the Rye: fantastic song. I would not be surprised to learn that this song was written for the Use Your Illusion albums, it's classic Guns all the way through. From the bluesy solos to the wailing of Axl's voice, this track is a winner. 10/10 08.Scraped: this song annoys me. It's a weak attempt at an "Appetite" like rocker, and it doesn't come anywhere close. The lyrics are similar in message to the classic, "Out ta Get Me", but it falls way short. Sorry Axl, you lose. 4/10 09.Riad N' the Bedouins: another weak track, after listening to this I had to go back and listen to "Street of Dreams" and "Better" again to keep myself from shutting off the CD player. 4/10 10.Sorry: Axl's obsession with Pro Tools is more apparent here than anywhere else on the album. His voice is so processed it sounds like another person. The lyrics are really stupid, and the wall of sound drowns out the really tasty guitar licks prior to the solo. However, the solo is tight, it's got a really slow, tense feel to it, and the outro is really cool. Think Alice in Chains, but over-produced and with more complex guitars. 5/10 11.I.R.S.: once more, Axl is trying to live in the past. This one is attempting to recreate that first part of "Estranged", with the really dark and heavy tone. Sorry Axl, the magic's gone and you're left with a mediocre song once again. A screamin' solo towards the end of the track keeps this one from being a total flop. 6/10 12.Madagascar: cool track, until the clips in the middle. Look Axl, the "Cool Hand Luke" thing worked once, but it's not going to work again. Especially because you replaced the part of the song that should be an epic guitar solo with these lame ass clips. Sorry, this track is just really really lame. 4/10 13.This I Love: starts with a really mellow piano-orchestra piece, and Axl comes in over it with a nice ballad. Which is fine, until we're 2 minutes into the song and it gets repetitive. Finally, the guitar solo starts, and we get a nice "Don't Cry" like solo, and everything is right in the universe for a minute and a half. Then Axl comes back with his annoying chorus and shatters our little paradise. Then there's an outro that's pretty weak and has no guitar. This track is without a doubt Axl's attempt at "November Rain" Pt. 2. However, he left out a major part of what made the song great in the first place: Slash's blistering solo at the end. I'm starting to wonder if Axl even understands what made GNR great in the first place. 6/10 14.Prostitute: another weak track, this one is again saved by it's solos. Axl, no matter how much you process your voice, you cannot get away with bad choruses. Sorry dude, this one isn't up to par. 6/10 This album starts off strong, coming off as a hard-edged rocker, like it should be. But the problem is, it descends into a collection of ballads from hell. I honestly think that if Axl & Co. put the tracks in a differnet order, it would be a much better album. The end of the album is saturated with weak ballads, and it's impossible to get through the entire record in one sitting.
Lyrics — 5
The lyrics are, for the most part, decent. Sure, there are the shining diamonds in the rough like "Better" and "Catcher N' The Rye", but for most of the album the lyrics are meaningless noise coming out of Axl Rose's mixing console... I mean mouth. Nothing special here really, though the record would make a good demonstration for Pro Tools. Not since N'Sync have voices been so processed.
Overall Impression — 5
This album is a total disappointment. It pales in comparison to the other GNR albums, as well as anything Izzy, Slash, Duff, Steven, Matt, or even Gilby have done in the last 15 years since Guns fell apart. The only songs on this album worth listening to are "Chinese Democracy", "Better", "Street of Dreams", and "Catcher N' The Rye". It's really really really mediocre. Since I pirated it in the first place, I wouldn't buy another to replace it. Actually, I don't think it's even necessary to ask this question since nobody in their right mind would try to steal this album from you. It's not worth buying and Axl doesn't deserve the money for this massive let-down anyway.