“Chinese Democracy” by Guns n’ Roses


Album: Chinese Democracy
Artist: Guns n’ Roses

Mr. Rose, your ship has landed. After orbiting in some sort of musical ether that no one could get into, Chinese Democracy is finally here. After a writing/recording/production period that borderlines on comically absurd, the 15 years have left many with incredibly high expectations. It has become an industry joke, the unicorn or bigfoot of the music world. Often talked about, never seen, and with very little evidence leading to any actual information. Well we now can see that Chinese Democracy is indeed a real thing. But how does it sound? Has the 15 years aged the album well like a good wine, or will it cause many listeners to whine?

Well… I’m not really sure what to think.

The album seems to have a hard time finding what it wants to do. It has a few hard rocking tunes and a few sleazy crooner blues numbers. There is also some hip hop and industrial influences heard within. But despite the large amount of ground it covers, Chinese Democracy never really takes off. As soon as the album builds a flow, the tone changes. Some of the tracks are good by themselves but overall the album gives the flow of a randomized playlist.

The instrumentation is all over the charts. Each song sounds different from the others, mostly due to the large amount of guest contributors. Some have called this Axl’s solo album, but I see it more akin to “Axl and Friends”. The list of people who have put something on this album is about as long as Mandingo’s manhood, and it can be heard.

My biggest gripe with it all is how overproduced it all sounds. Even the tracks that are made to sound a little raw have the stench of being left to simmer in its own juices in a dark room under the stairs for 15 years. Sometimes the vocals sound like they’re being processed, even when Axl’s voice starts crackling and making ears bleed. It makes it hard to really get into the album because it feels that too much is occupying the air.

This is not to say that Chinese Democracy is a completely bad album. There are some tracks which are sure to be friendly to the iTunes generation of “one song out of the bunch”. There are also some cool ideas in this record, but they never really amount to anything impressive. There are no tracks on here that I can identify as instant classics, let alone tracks that stand up to Gn’R’s previous hits like Welcome to the Jungle and November Rain. Was the album worth 15 years of a wait? Was the final product worth all of the hype? For me, the answer is no. But at least I’ll get a free can of Dr. Pepper out of it.

Chinese Democracy is available now through Best Buy.

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Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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