Sound — 2
People have said this album took 17 years to make which is false!. Once the original Guns N Roses lineup broke up there was a new direction taken by Axl Rose due to the fact Axl could not find players weather by bad luck or prefference to fill the void of the loss Slash, Duff, Matt and firing of Gilby Clark and Izzy Stradlins departure which seems to ruin this record at every turn to be a true "Guns N' Roses" Record. So all things considered, this specific album was about 10 years in the making from conception to release but in reality if you want to convince yourself this is a real Guns N Roses Record you were probably waiting 17 years however you choose to look at it but the fact remains this was the Album Axl was making since 1997 all previous works with the original were shelved/scrapped. The sound is where this album fails! Axl Rose hired and interviewed many many Guitarists during the writing process of this album and the fact that there wasn't a consistant lineup during the writing process really hurt the cohesivness of the sound this album lacks. Also the fact that many of the guitarists who wrote meterial for this record in the end did not make it on the record to perform their riffs and their solos. Ron Thal is a great technical guitarist who has a lot of chops as a guitarist but unfortunatly he just really does not cut the mustard as far as riff and solo creation on this album! As far as I'm concerned Ron was misused and in no way a fit for this band given the music at hand. Buckethead on the other hand was good fit for the band and would have been a decent lead player but like Ron he also suffers from being able to produce a rhythm that's catchy or any memorable leads like his predecessor Slash. So with that said it's very unfortunate that Buckethead left the band as he was the only bright spot of this album next to Axl's timless vocals. Most of the songs are a mess and have much clutter and it really takes away from the music itself and makes it hard to listen and absorb the first few times through and even if you make it that far you'll still be scratching your head wondering what you've just heard because of how muddy the sound is. One thing that ruins this record is what appears to be the same Guitar "Tapping" runs used in different keys on all of the songs. This was a band that used to be Hard Rock/Blues guitar playing and based off of simple arrangements to achieve the basic sound of the band and all of the balls that came from that sound of past records is now gone and replaced with solos and rhythms that do not speak to the inner soul of most Guns N' Roses fans and what they expect.
Lyrics — 9
The Lyrics are typical Axl Rose... Very blunt and to the point. 15 years after Axl Rose's last recorded Vocal effort on an album (The Spaghetti Incident) Axl Rose delivers his signature voice and shows he still has the talent and the attitude to make a Guns N Roses Record but sadly this effort falls flat on it's face due to the background music which takes away the fact your listening to Axl Rose and supposedly a "Guns N Roses" record. My Opinion of the Vocal blending with the background music is that of a very textured and layered mess except on the song "There Was A Time" in which it is probably the best song on the album due to there being some consistency of a theme and catchy chorus. The whole theme of this record seems to be Axl being great but the backing music and "Hired Guns" in general just not providing the support Axl needed for this album to be great.
Overall Impression — 4
In all fairness to Axl Rose and this album, It simply was never going to live up to the hype created after many years and false starts and release dates. What I hate about this album is probably what most Guns N Roses fans in general hate about it and is probably why this record is dropping off the charts like it is, which is what I feel is due to... #1. Not "Guns N Roses" as hard core fans know it. #2. No Cohesion in the Lyrics and music #3. No Cohesion in Guitarists and Song content in general. #4. it's Just Axl Rose and hired hands who don't have the first clue what Guns N Roses brand of Rock N Roll is about. #5. lack of any memorable meterial. Bright spots of the CD include... Axl Rose's vocals and writing and openess to new and complex sounds. He really shows he still has it and should for many years to come! The song "There Was A Time" which has elements of the old GNR that Axl's hired Guns attempted to rip from Slash and the rest of the old band along with Bucketheads touch on the outro which was done tastefull to the Guns N Roses memory but sadly there wasn't enough of it to salvage the album for most Guns fans. In short if you are looking to listen to a Guns N Roses record then listen to Velvet Revolver or 1985-1995 Guns N Roses. If you are looking to hear an Axl Rose solo effort then be my guest and take a listen. I believe after all the effort put into this album it is at least worth a listen but at the end of the day there is nothing that's going to ever make you want to put it back into your CD player. With that said download "There Was A Time" on itunes or your favorite peer to peer program and forget about the rest of the album.