Monday, January 12, 2009

Listener's Review: Chinese Democracy by Guns n' Roses

This is a humble attempt of mine of trying to review a record that had alot of buzz on the media since it's first announcement almost a decade ago.
I always liked GNR, not being the hardcore type of fan(i've met quite a few in some hard rock parties here in Sao Paulo) but someone that have been listening to their stuff for a while(since 1992).

Before going into the musical details, i would like to recommend you to open your mind a little
bit and forget GNR's as you know for a while including any "Use Your Illusion 3" expectations.

To give you a big picture i'll press play and comment in some of the tracks:

[Chinese Democracy]
After building a "chinese streets scenario" , some big drum pounds the record actually starts with a door blowing guitar riff flavored with a modern tone. It's like a musical welcome to the new world of GNR.

[Shackler's Revenge]
After the door slamming it's time to show the new musical territorries Axl's been drown into the last decade. This excellent song features a Sledgehammer guitar riff counterparted by synths that paves the way for Axl's classic bad mother#$*!*% framework.
A sick guitar solo, featuring noise and a sequence of
blistering arpeggios capable of making metal fans drool.

Let's pour a little of sugar , but not enough to screw the freaky mood. The intro feats an interesting guitar riff (which plays the chorus melody) and electronic drums. Very dualistic song, modulating melancholy and rage all over.
Worth noticing the emotional climax with a 1st class sweet solo near the end.

[Street of Dreams]
Mooore sugar! The first song in the album that remembers you that the you're listening to GNR. At this time you can notice that Axl's low notes range has increased.

[If the World]
Modern.. Spanish style guitars poured around the song, electronic drums, synth riffs and strings builds an interesting flirt of classic guns with Alternative Metal.
Ass-kickin mood and great guitar solo.

[There was a Time]
The Alternative Metal ride continues. The chorus melody is kinda disturbing.

[Catcher in the Rye]
This song have a nostalgic 90's rock feel that may remind you a time when GNR was on the fridge and Black Crowes was on the MTV.

After an intro full of axl-isms , a groovy heavy riff oriented song comes. Not one of the best, but worth hearing.

[Riad n' the Bedouins]
Ever wondered what would happen if Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song and You Could be Mine were crossed over?

Along with "Better" it kinda externalizes (in my view) Axl's emotional rollercoaster over these years. Served on a modern 6/8 british blues dish.

IRS and Madagascar are very good songs but not big surprises, considering the internet leaks and live performances
over the years. Didn't liked "This I Love" and "Prostitute" much, they sounded spiceless to me.

My general conclusion is that the record's "sound and mood" foundation is very non-linear. It makes sense since Chinese Democracy took almost 10 years to get done and it's impossible for an artist's work not to reflect this. Loads of talented producers and musicians put their hands on it making the overall work very rich.

However, it means that this is not an easy listening for most people due to the context switches, but i bet that after a while you'll totally immersed on Chinese Democracy's sound atmosphere . 2 or 3 fillers in a 14-song album is a nice ratio and makes the entire album a great acquisition.

Liked the electronic mash ups and freaky guitar tones. Axl was very brave when he decided to incorporate alternative metal elements. They're blended
flawlessly without saturating the songs.

Overall Note: 9



Anonymous Moe said...


I listened to the cd a lot since one week before its release. I can say I like it very much and also that I know a lot of people WON'T!

Just like you said, "Use You Illusion III" expectations would polute your ears before you listened the album and a lot of prejucide from die-hard fans is another damage. This proves that Axl is brave enough to hold on to HIS thoughts on the project - and that is something that deserves our greatest respect as artists, since almost everyone is only concerned about money nowadays.

Very good record, very interesting atmosphere. And very good review you did.

See ya!


15/1/09 7:55 AM  

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