Let me say, first and foremost, I don’t give a shit about Guns ‘n Roses. Or Axl. Or the remaining members as they plow ahead with Velvet Revolver sans Scott Weiland. I don’t care how long it took Axl to finally get an album into stores. I. Don’t. Care.
GnR pretty much ceased to exist after putting out two albums, Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion. The first one was a blistering blues rock number with hits that will stand the test of time. Use Your Illusion I and II was a bloated mess that truly needed a producer to weed the gems from the fool’s gold and craft an album equally as good as the first. Everything else after is garbage, covers or simply not anything resembling Guns ‘n Roses.
Despite having the entire band quit on you, Axl has finally released Chinese Democracy and I have the complete, finished album on my iPod. I have heard a few songs, but this will be my first impression of the album. Others, way better qualified than me i.e. Chuck Klosterman, have already weighed in on the album and I’m not trying to convince you to buy or not to buy. If you want Axl’s new solo album, my review won’t stop you from heading to Best Buy.
Chinese Democracy – I like the build-up and the opening guitar riff. Tons of production is all over this track. Definitely trying to replicate Slash’s guitar tone. Still too flashy. Way too much Malmsteen and less Page.
Shackler’s Revenge – Oh, this is shit. Guitar is terrible. It might have been interesting on a true industrial album by Prodigy, but here it’s just shit. I’m fast forwarding.
Better – Not a fan of the opening whiny guitar lick. I don’t mind Axl singing in his normal register. Lots of cool licks all over this track. The breakdown is pretty great. This is the first single, I think.
Street Of Dreams – Oh here’s November Rain part deuce. Over produced like nobody’s business. Axl transitions nicely from his normal singing voice to the screamer. Guitar work is closest to Slash. The piano compliments the harder edges of the song. Easily the best track so far and probably on the entire album.
If The World – I have no idea how all these sounds are going to blend. Wow, they work in an interesting way. Slash, Duff, Izzy and Adler would never have recorded a song like this.
There Was A Time – Overproduced. Keyboards add that wall of sound feel, but not sure they are needed. Lots of layers. Catchy lyrics. I like the piano on the chorus. More Slash-like guitar. The solo is tasty even though it delves into Eddie Van Halen territory a bit.
Catcher In The Rye – I’m getting bored with this album. This is the sort of overproduced, throw everything possible into the mix that can either be genius and work on every level or be tedious and boring. I’m bored.
Scraped – Is this Axl trying his hand at doing Queen? The guitar work is inspired.
Riad N’ The Bedouins – WTF? I don’t get all the atmosphere here. Just play the guitars and have Axl scream. The title also gets the D’yer Mak’er Award for dumbass names.
Sorry – This is a weird, moody track. I think I like it. Needs a couple of listens though.
I.R.S. – The one track I heard previously. It’s okay. Typical Axl overproduced piece. I’ve come to the conclusion that Axl could not simply create a track without adding layer upon layer. I know it works well with certain things, but most of the time it just feels overproduced.
Madagascar – The twin track to I.R.S. It has a lot of production tricks and additions. We even get the Cool Hand Luke line again.
This I Love – This feels as if it should be in some Broadway stage musical. Here the strings and keyboard work. It has shades of November Rain with the piano and guitar solo. This might be my favorite song. I could easily see Meatloaf doing even more with this track.
Prostitute – Not a fan of the dubbed drum part at the beginning. The bass is doing something odd here. LOVE the break even though its all over the place guitar-wise. Tinkly piano softens everything.
This is an album filled with overproduced/wall of sound aural cacophony. It’s pretty much a tour de force of piano/keyboards/guitar with Axl singing in all his styles (regular voice/screamer/falsetto). Sometimes it soars magnificently and sometimes it crashes hard into the ground. There are some huge clunkers (Shackler’s Revenge should have been left off) and a couple of true gems (Street of Dreams, This I Love, Better).
The album feels big and epic mostly because it really doesn’t sound like anything that appeared on Appetite for Destruction. Pity. I liked that Guns ‘n Roses.