Music Reviews
Chinese Democracy

Guns N' Roses Chinese Democracy

(Interscope) 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.

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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.

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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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