Sound — 8
The sound and production is identical to Use Your Illusion I and also The Spaghetti Incident, but is worlds apart from the unstoppable Appetite For Destruction. Axl's angst-y screech is still piercing and histrionic, but the optimistic post-teen manic howl from Paradise City and Nightrain is now more of a bitter, confused croon of a man reaching 30. Izzy's funky scratchy guitar has all but disappeared, with songs like Locomotive ONLY featuring Slash. Duff's bouncing bass is now a Chorus-effect drenched metallic clank, and worst of all, the once punk-n'-funk drumming of Steven Adler has been swapped for Matt Sorum's lumbering, almost orchestral sounding thunder-percussion. Don't get me wrong though. It's still a pretty fantastic album. Guns N' Roses now sound like the massive band they had become. The sound has altered massively, but so had the situation. It's bloated, angry, heavy, light, funky, punky, bluesy and sometimes straight up weird... GN'R all over! However, we do see how much Adler and Stradlin influenced the bands sound.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics have changed completely, and this goes for UYI 1 and 2. Appetite focused on telling stories, giving an insight into the entire band's lives and LA. Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 is filled with self indulgent rants and insights into Axl's psyche. However, there are some gems. Civil War shows a more intelligent side to GN'R, Yesterdays is surprisingly optimistic, and of course, Izzy's delightfully wry, simple yet genius tracks (Pretty Tied Up/14 Years). Izzy's lyrics and vocals (particularly on 14 Years) play a much bigger part on these two albums, particularly UYI 2, than his actual guitar playing, which I think is sad, as his playing was once a massive factor in GN'R's sound. You Could Be Mine is a song with lyrics more reminiscent of something you'd find on Appetite. Then you have the hilarious rants of Get In The Ring, the mindless shouting in Shotgun Blues, the self obsessed balladry of Estranged, Don't Cry and Breakdown and then the lengthy tirades of Locomotive (Complicity). A mixed bag indeed!
Overall Impression — 8
Civil War - The only song that features Adler on drums. A big hit for the band. A really great arrangement, and a great song. Impressive guitar work from Slash and inspired lyrics from Axl. One of GN'R's only 'issue' songs! 14 Years - Izzy Stradlin's bitter bluesy romp, clearly aimed at Rose. I love his raspy, hissing voice, which is backed up by Axl's signature screech in the chorus. A good song, with simple chord progressions and lyrics. A real Izzy style song. Yesterdays - A fairly standard song. Nice chords, nice lyrics. The only word to describe it is nice... The piano throughout is cool though. Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Dylan on steroids. Without a doubt, the Guns version is the definitive version of KOHD. Songs like this on the albums do benefit from Sorum's heavy handed thunderous drumming, as it makes it epic sounding. Axl's sing-a-long section turns a 3 chord song into a rock Hymn. Impressive and memorable! Get In The Ring - Cool riffs, great guitar, and very Gunzy... but we all know this song for one reason.. The rant in the bridge. Axl can't be bothered being cryptic. He just lets loose and vents his rage. Complete with boxing bell and a drunken, drooling thankyou at the end, courtesy from Slash or Duff, can't really tell.. Shotgun Blues - A boring song trying it's best to be aggressive and ballsy, but just comes across as filler. Sorum's drumming just ain't punk. Breakdown - I really like this song! It's an underrated, over-looked GN'R song. It's got cool piano, a cowboy-esque intro with Slash on a banjo (tuned like a guitar because he can't play banjo). Obscure lyrics from Axl, but I do love the line "Funny how everything was roses when we held on to the guns". Pretty Tied Up - My favourite song on the album. Badass chord progressions, cool laid back lyrics that just scream 'Izzy', catchy chorus and a catchy-ass bassline from McKagan! A very cool song. Locomotive - Similar to 'Coma' from the previous UYI. It seems like just a good way for Slash to showcase his nifty guitar work and Axl to vent his inner demons. It is very cool though! The chorus made my ears prick up straight away. Duff's bass is also relentlessly groovey. However, the fact Izzy's guitar isn't featured puts me off a little bit. The trippy coda is also cool. Lots of weird percussion and ambience is a song that was once pummelling funk metal riffage! In some respects then, reminiscent of Rocket Queen! So Fine - Don't listen to this song much. I find Duff's voice irritating. He sounds drunk and the lyrics border on cheesy ('my friends always come through for me, hey'?). Some people really like it though, so what do I know? Estranged - My favourite in the GN'R Axl Ballad trilogy! It's not as overblown and camp as November Rain, and IMO better than Don't Cry. The first half of the song is filled with inventive Slash melodies and Axl's mournful love-lorn howl. But after a watery, atmospheric bridge, it morphs into a more upbeat, major toned song. You can just picture Axl swaying! After another watery, dolphin-noise-ridden bridge, Slash bursts out an awesome solo. An epic song, and another favourite on the album. Shame about the cheesy video! You Could Be Mine - Arrangement, guitar work, riffs, rhythm and lyrics all reminiscent of Appetite era GN'R. Would've benefited with Adler's drumming, and Appetite era production but still, great. Another single from the album! Don't Cry - Same as the version from the first UYI, but with darker lyrics. Obviously a great song. No need for a second version though gang. My World - Bizarre. Neither rap, nor Industrial. Just weird ass effects and bad synth riffs. A bad note to finish the albums on.