When talking about the last Guns N’ Roses album, Chinese Democracy, it is hard not to criticise Axl Rose for taking so long to release the damn thing. The record was re-recorded in full multiple times, saw multiple band changes and cost a whopping $13 million to produce. It is technically the most expensive record ever produced and that is not something Axl Rose should be bragging about.
However, I have to give credit where it is due. Despite taking a decade to release and the mess surrounding everything to do with its release, Axl and his pals put together an album that is actually very impressive from a technical perspective. The production and final mix is top quality avoiding compression and other nasty techniques found on modern records. Chinese Democracy quite literally sounds better than most albums that have been released since and features over an hours worth of quality music, some of which might not be to the taste of older fans but is quite enjoyable regardless.
From the get go, it is clear that Chinese Democracy is not your typical Guns N’ Roses album. Gone are the days of Izzy and Slash, with them goes the classic rock sounds that was all over the bands first four records. Instead we are given what was at the time, a considerably more up to date sound. The songs have these hard rock moments but are mixed up with some heavy metal riffs and produced with an industrial flair. The combination is easily the heaviest, most flavoured album of the band’s career.
The mix of songs styles on the record is impressive, especially considering how consistently good they are. The album title track is a satisfying start to the record and immediately proceeds through the highly enjoyable Shackler’s Revenge and then into the criminally underrated song, Better. This song has a very memorable melody and devolves into some pretty heavy riffing. It is a great sounding song and is easily one of the best songs the band has produced since their debut album, Appetite For Destruction.
There Was A Time starts off a little slow, it seems like a stereo typical ballad and feels like it is going nowhere. But once the song hits the half way mark, the band just explode into a selection of heavy rhythms, guitar solos and some impressively high pitch vocals from Axl Rose himself. The song that immediately follows is called, Catcher In the Rye and is a much stronger song in general. The track is consistently good, features some excellent pacing including a fiery guitar solo half way through.
The band kick it back into high gear with the hard edged metal tunes, Scraped and Riad N’ The Bedouins. Despite sounding nothing like the band of old, these two songs are very catchy rockers and provide the album with a much needed boost in energy, most of which dissipated with the song, Sorry. I think Sorry is one of the better songs on the record, it may be slow but the guitar riff together with metallic guitar tone just sounds excellent. The album ends on the well known Madagascar, the ballad This I Love and the song, Prostitute. The former are two good songs that hold their own in terms of the overall album quality, but the latter is just not very good at all. I enjoy listening to this record, but I do feel it is one track too long and would have ended perfectly had This I Love been the final track.
Despite being a little too long over all, I will not deny that Chinese Democracy is a very good album. Some people can argue that is in fact an Axl Rose solo record, but even if Slash and co were still in the group, it would have been very unlikely that they could have produced an album of this calibre. In fact, this is a better album than anything the previous members have released since their departure.
The best to enjoy Chinese Democracy is to literally forget everything that came before it. With exception of the voice, there are absolutely no similarities at all. But considering how well produced the album is, it deserves a lot of praise and I think people should definitely pick this album up, open their mind and simply enjoy the record for what it is. You’ll find the album is very easy to find these days and usually it is going for only a couple of pounds. For that amount of small change, it is an absolute bargain. One that I highly recommend.
Where to buy :
Track Listing :
- Chinese Democracy
- Shackler's Revenge
- Street of Dreams
- If the World
- There Was a Time
- Catcher in the Rye
- Riad N' the Bedouins
- This I Love