Posted by: Dave on November 29, 2008 at 8:48 pm

GunsNRosesChineseDemocracyRealNote: This is the first album of original, studio material released by Guns N’ Roses since 1991’s Use Your Illusion I & II. But Axl Rose is the only remaining original member of the band – and he’s worked with an ever-evolving cast of musicians over the last fourteen-or-so years on this project that seemingly would never see an official release – so Chinese Democracy feels more like a solo album than a true Guns N’ Roses offering.
Sound: A mix of industrial/electro-tinged, riff-heavy rockers; theatrical, piano-and-orchestra-driven power ballads; stadium-ready, sometimes psychedelic anthems; and mid-tempo, worldly grooves. Each song is densely and slickly produced – both the music and the vocals – but despite the studio manipulation, the performances, musicianship and songwriting shine. The rotating cast of guitarists shred, blister and hold back when necessary, while Axl naturally takes center stage with a diverse arsenal of banshee howls, ferocious croons, razor sharp jabs, melodramatic melodies, sedated reflections and more.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “Sorry”; “I.R.S.”; “Scraped”; “Better”
Medium Rotation tracks: “Street of Dreams”; “Riad N’ The Bedouins”; “Prostitute”
Recommended: Sure the album’s been in the works for nearly a decade and a half and could never be as good as the flawless masterpiece Appetite for Destruction or even the bloated but excellent Illusions. And no, this collection of songs can’t possibly be as cohesive or authentic without Slash, Izzy and Duff in the picture. And yes, the disc does suffer a bit from overproduction and grandiose ambition. But it’s still an album’s worth of Axl Rose – one of the greatest rock performers of the last 20 years – and he delivers the goods. With over 70 minutes of music, epic songs that don’t always coalesce immediately, a stronger second half than first and a couple headscratching moments, it will take “a little patience” (ha!) to find all the goodness living on here. But give it some time, and you’ll discover that despite the extreme tardiness of its release, Chinese Democracy proves that Axl still had much more to offer the music world.
Grade: A- (Top 20 Albums of 2008 Candidate)

Listen to Tracks/Buy Music on iTunes

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