Music Reviews
Chinese Democracy

Guns N' Roses Chinese Democracy

(Interscope) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

Whether you give a shit or not, Axl is back. Chinese Democracy is no longer a broken promise; it's finally a physical G N' R release that you can buy at your local record store. But is it any good? Because No Ripcord is a democracy too, we've decided to allow our writers to voice their own opinions on this long-awaited release. More reviews will be added as and when they arrive (which means the average score above may change).

Enjoy, and please add your own views in the comments section below.

. . .

SEAN CALDWELL'S REVIEW (5/10)

In case you were one of those diehards that waited in breathless anticipation for Chinese Democracy, the first full-length LP to emerge from Guns N’ Roses since 1994’s The Spaghetti Incident?, Axl Rose realized the cultural significance of a new Guns N’ Roses album well enough that he had a countdown clock on the band’s website that tick-tock’d to the last second of his new album’s release. It was like when the Olsen twins turned eighteen: a countdown to a very important non-event.

But, it’s possible that the clock came in handy. For fans, it would be easy for them to lose track of time seeing as they’ve only been waiting for this album about fifteen years. I guess they have a lot of pay-shunce…yeeeeeah, yeah.

Having said that, fifteen years in the making, Chinese Democracy is NOT a Guns N’ Roses album and that’s more than just an acknowledgement of the band’s mostly absent original line-up. This Axl Rose Band, having an almost doubled line-up of 90s alterna-alumni, is an extraordinarily confused medium whereby Rose communicates (with vocals heavily tweaked and, at times, unrecognizable) his over-ambitious rock star A.D.D. with out of touch nü-metal anthems (Shackler’s Revenge), wannabe Elton piano balladry (Street Of Dreams), Mike Patton-inspired industrial tracks (If The World), and 80s Pop Bowie style (Prostitute).

That’s not to say that Axl doesn’t make somewhat of an effort to connect his new vision to the name whose legacy still reeks of Jack, pizza, Marlboros and cheap perfume. Catcher In The Rye retraces some the more overdone moments of November Rain and Madagascar (the inclusion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech? Big points for pretension, Axl) makes the same self-aggrandizing strides to seem poignant and important as Civil War did.

If there’s anything remarkable about Chinese Democracy, it’s that it unknowingly provides fourteen reasons as to why Axl Rose should hang it up and accept the fact that he no longer has the right to be Rock’s undisputed diva. Fifteen years? It’s amazing Axl Rose has any fans left. He certainly doesn’t deserve them.

. . .

ALAN GARNER'S REVIEW (7/10)

First thing's first: you either like what G n' F'n R do, or you don't, and this album will not change your mind. It is ridiculous. It is overblown, it's pompous, it's aggressive and it's absurdly ambitious. But, here's the rub: it's actually pretty damn good. It rocks, often pretty hard. Chinese Democracy's Finnegans Wake-esque gestation means that each track is dense, heavy and will take multiple listens to unravel. But the chorus of Shackler's Revenge is simply stonkingly good heavy rock, while Better is one of Rose's best songs, along with another album highlight, This I Love. The album, unlike most contemporary albums, is actually somewhat weighted towards the back end; the final three or four songs are all very strong, and of course in true Axl style the record ends with an epic ballad. It's not all brilliant: The Catcher in the Rye does nothing much for nearly six minutes, and the title track wears thin quickly. Overall, though, forget the hype, forget the myth, forget the ego....Guns 'n' Roses are here to rock you. And they - he - has succeeded.

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Comments for Chinese Democracy review

Great, Varied Outing (10/10)

'Chinese Democracy' is in no way a new 'Appetite for Destruction', but it is definently the first time when Guns n' Roses live up to the promise of their debut album and deliver a worthy follow-up - what Use Your Illusion could have been, had it been a single, coherent entity, rather than a fascinating but ultimately tiring tapestry stretching over two CD's.
'Chinese Democracy' rewards because it is the most varied album released by Guns N' Roses yet - the sheer number of styles and moods on the album is breathtaking. This of course weakens its ability to seduce at first listen, but makes for a better record in the long run. Where 'Use Your Illusion I' relied too heavily on angry rock'n'roll and 'Use Your Illusion II' was bloated with epics, 'Chinese Democracy' switches easily from one kind to the other, making for an album which can be listened to over and over, without starting to bore, seeing as no songs feel redundant.
'Chinese Democracy' is, however, also less instantly catchy than earlier Guns N' Roses albums, possibly because of the lack of Izzy Stradlin and his simple, irresistible tunes. Axl Rose doesn't write simple tunes, he writes grand melodies, and 'There Was A Time' and 'Street Of Dreams' don't really start to work until they've been heard at least a couple of times. But then they finally unfold, rewarding the listeners patience in spades!
'This I Love', 'Madagascar' and 'Sorry' take even longer to crack, but behind the surface, which is puzzling at first, there are shimmering melodies that easily surpass such former glories as 'Estranged' or 'November Rain'.
The album seems divided between three types of songs: there's the grand, bombastic ballads ('This I Love', 'Prostitute', 'Madagascar', 'If The World', 'Street Of Dreams') which seem overblown at first, but which reward in the long run. Then there's the equally grand pop of 'Catcher In The Rye', 'There Was A Time' and 'Better', which will convert listeners faster, but which are also layered with detail, so that it takes several attempts before they can be fully appreciated. ('Catcher In The Rye' eventually reveals itself to be a worthy follow-up to songs like 'Patience' and 'Sweet Child O' Mine', blending mainstream appeal with rock consciousness and operatic grandeur).
And then there's the feverish, paranoid rock'n'roll of the remaining numbers, which will hardly leave any diehard of 'Appetite for Destruction' unsatisfied. The only real difference between the rock of 'Chinese Democracy' and that of the 1987 debut is, that the rock here seems secondary to the grandeur of the remaining songs, where it was the dominant force on 'Appetite for Destruction'. This shift in priority aside (which means that 'Chinese Democracy' isn't balls-to-walls cock rock from start to finish), songs such as the title track (as crazy an opener as 'Right Next Door To Hell' or 'Welcome To The Jungle') with its anthemic riff, 'Shackler's Revenge' (which has the catchiest chorus of the album, but makes up for this commercial sheen with plenty of industrial angst) and I.R.S. (another irresistible tune with the best vocal performance from anyone in the world since 'Back Off Bitch') are modern-day variations of the old Gn'R raunch, and they're untidy and destructive enough to be living extensions of the sound, rather than nostalgic throwbacks.
With 'Chinese Democracy', Axl Rose has finally claimed the Gn'R moniker as his own, producing a record which once and for all proves his dominion over the rock'n'roll legacy of that name. Had Slash's Snakepit and Velvet Revolver over the course of all their albums been able to deliver anything as alive and vibrant as this, there might still have been a contest, but where their songs always seemed like throwbacks to the eighties made by satisfied, elderly gentlemen, 'Chinese Democracy' plays like the work of a band, which is still hungry, young and living on the edge, even if that isn't actually the case. And then the album comes with better tunes than most others, and that counts for a lot as well.

Recommended Listening: 'Catcher In The Rye', 'I.R.S.', 'Shackler's Revenge', 'There Was A Time'

Axl slays the dragon

The Chinese Domocracy, after two fucking decades of broken promises and half truths, finally arrived Sunday at Best Buy. 14 years. Jesus. I was only 16 standing in line to purchase my copy of Spagetti, Axl's last album, but without any origional material. Seems like forever now. The whole landscape of not only rock music, but contemporary music as a whole has changed. Alternative rock has since moved back to Seattle, seemingly buried under a rock somewhere. Hell, even Rap-Metal has come and gone, like the flash in the pan that it was, since that time, while standing in line at the record store with Spagetti on my hands.
The Chinese Domocracy is everything it should be! It's fucking balls to the wall, epic, fucking trippy at times, everything you'd expect from Axl at this point in his life. It's more of a continuation of the Illusion albums, with very little comparible to Destruction or even Lies. Madagascar completes Axl's epic trilogy along side November Rain and Estranged. Yes, it's that fucking good. As good as anything he has ever done. Streets of Dreams and Sorry are also top fucking notch. This I love and Prostitute alone are better than 95% of the garbage currently getting airtime on radio.
In closing, my friends, it's time to wash the Spagetti off your hands... we finally have a new album, and it's as good as anything G N R has ever done.

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For the love of Rock

Skeptical as I always was, this album failed to stun me at first run. Perhaps due to the hype and high expectations given the years it took to frame the record. But set aside Axl's ego, perfectionism and 15 years, the music is still true and real but it lacked the intensity and emotional climaxes the previous albums delivered. Some said Chinese Democracy was the extension of Illusions released a decade and a half ago, even pairing the songs according to their perceived resemblance. But no, this is totally different, the writing style and expression has evolved, yes his voice is still as strong as ever but the nuances of angst, defiance, and melancholy got mixed up with some half-jolly riffs that failed to reinforce the emotional intent.
The beauty of this album though is that the songs doesn't come-off too catchy that often leaves you bloated after a week of listening. The songs takes their time to slowly sink-in to you, so the best approach is to mesmerize and ride its pace. It takes some time to digest but it's worth it.
But somehow there were certain tunes that rings hard and becomes a pre-requisite to appreciate the other songs. Overall, the album shouldn't be compared with Appetite nor the Illusions but rather to take it as it is, on its era, and most of all take it as a hope that Axl has still a lot more in store.

We love you Axl... don't let us down.

Time to take a bow

I believe that most people who have rated this album below average or just average, are those that look for a hook right away. One thing I like about this album is how it will take multiple play throughs till you realize that the songs don't fade. They keep getting better and better over time. If you give it that time, you will see for yourself. I think that what Axl has done here is something thats very hard to do. Which is make songs that will become better with age, once the industry realizes that he is not making music for today. Hes making an album for the ages. Its funny how when I first heard the album, I thought the title track was awesome and everything else was good. Now, after listening to the album at least twenty times, I want to skip the title track which is good, but listen to the rest of the album which is awesome. Today Brittany Spears will have commercial success with her album, in the future it will be looked at for what it is. Embarrassing to those who liked it. I think the new GNR album is quite the opposite. It may be a commercial failure today, but in time, it will be a staple of most radio stations set list. Its hard to describe to people how music is suppose to be an artform. When Hillary Duff, Brittany, and the Christinas of the world are already classified as divas. The record companies wanted to make music into the McDonalds of the world, and have succeeded. Except, for this guy who will go against all American standards to make sure that if he is the only one left (no pun intended) to make music, real music (with some soul) then hes going to do it. That my friends is more then enough of a reason to pick this album up. You are not going to see to many of these "artists" anymore. Real artists

great songs

It is nice to see GNR back. It was too long time since "Use Your Illusion". This album is not that good, but still shows that Axel is back on the track.

This is a great album, with

This is a great album, with great songs especially Catcher in the Rye

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