Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Guns 'n' Roses: Chinese Democracy (CD Review)
Wow. Did anyone actually think they’d ever live to see this day? This has been in the making for, what, a decade?
Well, I’ve had the chance to give this quite a few full listens, and overall I really like it. But I feel I must give a warning to any GNR fan who hasn’t listened to it yet: this is not the GNR that we all know and love. We all knew that Axl was the only original member of the group still kicking it old school (the rest were over with Scott Weiland [Stone Temple Pilots] in Velvet Revolver) and there’s been a number of people to join and leave the band. So who can say if the CD sounds different because of the musicians or because that’s just the way Axl wrote it? If you look at Appetite for Destruction and then the two Use Your Illusion CDs, you might think that the CD sounds so different from what we got in the 90s because Axl grew and evolved as a musician, and that’s what I’m going with. And since it has been a decade or so, even Axl’s voice sounds different, a LOT different on some tracks (If the World and This I Love most notably).
I’d have to say that the two tracks that most sound like GNR (at least the sound I imagine when thinking of the group) are Chinese Democracy, Scraped and I.R.S. The sound obviously doesn’t have Slash’s trademarked guitar sound behind it, but these tracks blend Axl’s screeching vocals with the driving guitar to push the tempo. It evokes Shotgun Blues or Nighttrain.
Shackler’s Revenge is very Nu-Metal (I hate that term). The screeching guitar at the beginning and used intermittently throughout the song make you think of Korn or, to a lesser extent, Limp Bizkit.
One thing I really enjoyed was the use of strings and the piano. The piano at the beginning of Street of Dreams brought back November Rain memories, but when Axl first comes in, his voice sounds odd. It kind of ruins it for a moment. The more orchestral sound is also used to good effect in If the World, There Was a Time and Catcher in the Rye, and we get some horns thrown in in Madagascar (and apparently we find out that Axl either really likes Cool Hand Luke or really likes Struther Martin, because he throws in the same quote that was used at the beginning of Civil War from Use Your Illusion) and This I Love.
Like I said, I really like this CD, but it doesn’t sound like a Gun ‘n’ Roses album. It sounds like Axl and a new band, which is what it is. So if you’re on the fence about buy it, take that into account, but I think, whether you’re an old fan or just looking for something new, you’ll get your money’s worth.
Listening to: Amusement Parks On Fire - You Made Me Realise