November 23, 2008

Album review: Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy

The wait is finally over – Chinese Democracy, against all odds and delays, has finally arrived. Over a decade in the making, the hype surrounding this album is unfathomable. A lot of time and money has been spent getting this on the market, but does it live up to the hype?

We expect Guns N’ Roses to be rock and roll. That’s what made the band larger than life when Appetite for Destruction was thrust upon the world with a lead fist. Things have changed since the era of [arguably] the greatest rock and roll album ever made, however. Axl Rose is now the sole remaining original member of Guns N’ Roses. At his side are hired guns, if you will. And this changes the band’s sound. Even though Rose has rights to the name, some other name for this group of musicians would be more proper.

Chinese Democracy is impressive, yes, but it’s probably not going to be what you expect. It’s not the same band of old, and the album doesn’t pack as much of a rockin’ punch as the old material does, but disregard that and take this for what it is – good music. Rose’s voice sounds just about as good as it ever has and the guitars are impressive. It’s somewhat unsettling that several guitarists contributed, though. You probably won’t be able to tell who plays on what songs by ear, but some are easy to determine (“Shackler’s Revenge” absolutely stinks of Buckethead). In addition to a handful of guitarists, there is also piano, synthesizers, and even orchestral arrangements. And desperate-for-a-job Sebastian Bach lends backing vocals on “Sorry.”

With so much time spent getting the music to the world, the results are thankfully promising. Guns N’ Roses isn’t four guys in a garage recording some demos. The production is done well and there’s a lot going on in these songs. You’ll hear rock, industrial, and even some blues. Chinese Democracy really doesn’t live up to the hype, but it is definitely beautiful and powerful, and is a great offering regardless of the names in the liner notes.

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