Finally, the Axl Rose Project (not to be confused with the Randy Disher Project) aka Guns N' Roses for a new millennium has arrived. With more than 13 years in the making and more than that in millions of dollars over production budget, you're probably wondering was it worth the wait or, frankly, all the fuss. Actually, I want to know what Mr. Rose is going to do with all his free time now. Tour maybe? Pal around with buddy Sebastian Bach? Maybe he'll get a head start on the next decade for the next record.
First off, despite the nearly 1,000 words Rolling Stone mag gave to their review of 'Chinese Democracy,' this is not 'Appetite For Destruction,' not even close. There is nothing on this record as brash, bold and completely genre devastating as that mighty disc. 'Chinese Democracy' will not inherently, at the same time, blow your doors off and shock your musical system as AFD did in the day. It may be closer to 'Use Your Illusion,' but I have my doubts there, too.
It's not that 'Chinese Democracy' is insignificant either. We're talking about a seminal band even if it exists in the last man standing. Vocally, Axl Rose hasn't changed much over the years: the passion is still there, yet he seems more restrained and, can I say it, older. But it's the music on 'Chinese Democracy' that poses the greatest intrigue, or better, conundrum. The sound is profoundly varied to the point of being directionless. It seems Rose milked every sound he could find over the years and dump it into a song. Coherency was dismissed for the 'Hey I like that, let's use it' philosophy of song composition. This is gives us some really word stuff like 'Shackler's Revenge' and the funky prog ballad anthem, 'If The World.'
Yet this hodgepodge of diversity delivers some great songs in 'Street Of Dreams,' 'There Was A Time' or 'Catcher In The Rye.' The latter two, though overly orchestrated, show some true creativity and sustain the listening to the end. If there were any songs that stood above the rest and cried GnR, it would have to be the funk influenced 'Scraped' and the mysterious 'Riad And The Bedouins.' What truly carries 'Chinese Democracy' is the amazing depth of musicianship (and it should considering volume of credits given on this work) Specifically, this work has some of the best guitar work I've heard on a straight up American hard rock album this year.
If you were waiting anxiously for 'Chinese Democracy' (I wasn't) suspecting or hoping for the days of past glories, then I to tell you this: this is not your father's Guns N' Roses. Though hardly a disappointment thanks to the eclectic diversity of the melodic, 'Chinese Democracy' is basically The Axl Rose Project. There is nothing as earthshaking and groundbreaking as AFD here. Enjoy with caution.
- Craig Hartranft
If you were waiting anxiously for 'Chinese Democracy' (I wasn't) suspecting or hoping for the days of past glories, then I to tell you this: this is not your father's Guns N' Roses. Though hardly a disappointment thanks to the eclectic diversity of the melodic, 'Chinese Democracy' is basically The Axl Rose Project. There is nothing as earthshaking and groundbreaking as AFD here. Enjoy with caution. - Craig Hartranft
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