Friday, November 21, 2008

review- Guns N' Roses: Chinese Democracy

I guess it's not as bad as I thought it would be.

But one might say the same thing after eating deep fried shit on a stick.

Let me just reiterate that it is *not* Guns n' Roses. But there's no need in belaboring that point.

I don't even know where to start with this. When the title track was released a few weeks ago, it was about what I expected. Likewise with the single "Better." They sound like fairly standard rock tracks, featuring Axl Rose.

In effect, that's what the whole album sounds like. Musically competent, but could be any number of acts, were it not for Axl Rose's vocals.

More than anything though, my complaint is that it sounds horribly dated. Axl started working on this roughly fourteen years ago. And the final product sounds very 1994. As The Washington Post put it:

In both sound and sentiment it feels hermetically sealed, like it was made by someone who doesn't get out much [...] on "Democracy" [Rose is] a magpie rooting around in the Museum Of Nineties Rock Sounds, picking at shiny bits from Soundgarden, Korn and (especially) Nine Inch Nails.

Which leads me to believe that maybe this would have been a decent album were it released in 1994 or 1995. There's actually a way in which the album sounds like a reinterpretation of the greatest moments of the Use Your Illusion albums ("Estranged," "Yesterdays," "November Rain," even the Cool Hand Luke sample from "Civil War" is here). But ultimately, it sounds as if the songs on Chinese Democracy were written in 1994, but never updated to match the world that continued to change around Axl Rose. That said, people that stopped listening to new music after 1995 will probably enjoy this album thoroughly.

And that is perhaps why it's such a disappointment. Although the album is OK, in theory one would expect a project belabored over for a decade and a half would be a pretty amazing piece of work. But we all know better, and figured that wouldn't be the case.

Chinese Democracy. Like a train wreck that's been pending for 14 years, you feel obliged to listen out of a sort of morbid curiosity. There's no doubt that the album isn't a masterpiece, but I feel fairly certain that in the grand scheme of popular music, Chinese Democracy will be as remembered as the Izzy Stradlin solo album. Despite the hype from Axl's camp to the contrary, this is not Smile, this is not The Black Album. Hell, it isn't even The Spaghetti Incident?.

History will remember Guns N' Roses. The hard rock band that sliced through the hair metal bullshit of the late 1980s, having the audacity to simultaneously release two albums (a year before The Boss), who on record and on stage had a totally uncompromising attitude, and the rock band that for a brief moment, seemingly ruled the world.

The world will forget the music on Chinese Democracy however, because it is ultimately forgettable.

At least I know the Dr. Pepper will be good.

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