Guns ‘N’ Roses-Chinese Democracy Review
So, I was going to wait on this until the album has actually been released, but I decided since I’m really not doing anything productive right now, I might as well go ahead and spit out some of my thoughts.
As I said in a previous post, Guns N Roses and I have a long history. They were one of the first bands I ever noticed outside of what I grew up with (Amy Grant, basically), and one of the first bands I wanted to explore when I finally was old enough and had the freedom to buy my own music. I knew coming into it that Chinese Democracy probably wouldn’t have a lot in common with Appetite for Destruction (save the presence of Axl) but the name alone has enough significance to me to draw me in. So, I listened to this, not really expecting a lot, but mainly because I just felt it was something I needed to do.
Well. I’ve listened to this album straight through at least 2-3 times by now, and some individual songs I’ve listened to a couple times over in succession. I have to say, Axl and company have not disappointed. In fact, I’m really surprised because the singles didn’t do much to capture my attention. I didn’t like the title track (still don’t care a whole lot for it) and I wasn’t too fond of “Better” either.
HOWEVER, I gave it a shot, and listened to the entire album. Frankly, I’m still listening, and I haven’t wanted to turn it off yet. Again, I’m just really surprised, although I guess I shouldn’t be. This is W. Axl Rose, after all. How many years did he spend perfecting November Rain? And it paid off, right?
It is incredibly difficult to wrap this album up in a nice, neat summary. It’s so diverse, I can’t even begin to categorize it. Well, actually I think the best word I can think of to sum this album up would be “claustrophobic”. This is mainly do to the fact that Axl just has so much going on in every track, its a little over the edge. I couldn’t even begin to count the different styles and influences I heard show up. In fact, (don’t shoot me for saying this) “Better” actually reminded me of something that might be sung by a pop diva, if not for the aggressive drums and guitars. Also, this album is shamelessly and ridiculously overproduced. In fact, its a little irritating at points. Sometimes the vocals get lost…there were some tracks where there were so many mechanically distorted sounds everything else was buried and hidden underneath that it got distracting. There are too freakin’ many special effects! And what is up with that “echo” thing?? He seemed kind of infatuated with it throughout the disc. That drove me nuts. Occasionally It sounds like there are two songs playing on top of one another, and all I wanted to do was turn one of them off…but I couldn’t. Although, It does make me wonder if that is how the songs actually are, or if something just messed up on my computer during playback. Regardless, everything he could to alter these songs…he did. I take it he isn’t planning on performing these live.
I suspect not incidentally, though, the songs I like best are the more “stripped down” songs…the ones where the guitars sound like a guitar, the drums like a drum, and Axl like Axl…with nothing to mess it up. Some of the songs *do* take a little time to get used to, but most get better as you listen along. He has some really fantastic songs on here. The ones I like, I really like. I would listen to all day. They haven’t bored me yet, at least. So far they’ve offered something new with each listen. In fact, they get better the more you listen. And most importantly, they’re just really good, solid rock and roll songs.
My Favorite Tracks:
Street of Dreams
There Was A Time—> loved the guitar solo in this one! In fact, I should say that all the guitar parts were outstanding…definitely a high point to this CD.
This is Love
If the World
Is this the music of the future? I don’t know. However, I’ll give him this…it was like nothing I’ve ever heard before. But somehow, he pulls this off…I don’t really understand it, either. Parts of it I really, really loved. Parts of it made me pretty uncomfortable. And at points it was absolutely overwhelming. I feel like I can’t take it in all at once…I’ll have to listen to it another month (or longer) to really solidify my thoughts on this CD. It makes me think that Axl just has too many lofty goals and ideals for his music…the technology just doesn’t exist to get the songs in his head out into a tangible form which is why they sometimes sound so crazy and foreign to us. He tries hard, though…I gotta say…if this is what Axl has been hearing in his head the last 20 years, no wonder he went nuts.
Despite it all, this album really works! Overall, this is a pretty freakin’ awesome record. I mean, its lengthy too…14 tracks? Having 4 that I really don’t like still leaves 10 that I do like, and that is worth paying money for. Heck, 10 songs could be a full-length CD in itself. After all, Thriller (best selling album ever) only had 9 tracks, I believe.
Do I recommend? Yes.
Am I going to buy it? yes…when I get the money.
Is it going to overthrow Black Ice as the superstar album of the year? eh, I don’t know. But that is less because of the album itself and more because of the attitudes I’ve seen and heard…a lot of people saying it’s a waste of time and its “not really Guns N Roses” and refusing to bother with it.
Final consensus. If you’re skeptical…give it a shot. seriously. You might be surprised. I think this is an album we’ll be listening to for years to come.
Release Date: November 23 (a Sunday??), 2008