Release Date: Nov 23, 2008
Record label: Interscope
True, those good moments are the songs that have kicked around the Internet for the entirety of the new millennium: the slinky, spiteful "Better," slowly building into its fury; the quite gorgeous if heavy-handed "Street of Dreams"; "There Was a Time," which overcomes its acronym and lack of chorus on its sheer drama; "Catcher in the Rye," the lightest, brightest moment here; the slow, grinding "I. R. S.
Review Summary: Chinese Democracy is comfortably the most consistent product the band has put out since Appetite For Destruction. The words “Chinese Democracy” conjure up all kinds of images, from Tiananmen Square to rioting monks in Tibet, but surely the most enduring image- for music fans anyway- is of be-braided rock n’ roll recluse Axl Rose slaving over a hot mixing desk in his pimp hat and trackies (OK, maybe some of those details are specific to me). 14 years since what was left of the band assembled to write the follow-up to 1991’s Use Your Illusion I & II, and a good decade since recordings began in earnest, the big fear was that Axl might have overcooked the eggs- his penchant for big, big arrangements is legendary, after all, and the band line-up has swelled to a generous nine members at times (it currently sits at a lean seven).
After seventeen years and countless millions of dollars, Guns N’ Roses’ sixth studio album, Chinese Democracy, has finally arrived. Pity those who wagered actual democracy would make it to China before singer Axl Rose (the band’s sole remaining original member) allowed this Howard Hughes-ian project to see the light of day. And the verdict? Mixed! Gone is the Sunset Strip guitar grime of Appetite for Destruction, replaced by an army of ProTools-packing shredders, three ”digital editors,” and a dude responsible for choral arrangements.
In 2006, writer Chuck Klosterman published a spoof review of Chinese Democracy, an album that at that stage most observers believed would never see the light of day. He had a high old time imagining guest appearances by Johnny Marr and reggaeton covers of Thin Lizzy, but also made a serious point about an album that had then taken 12 years to make and reputedly cost $13m. "There is really only one way for Chinese Democracy to avoid utter and absolute failure," he wrote.
Whether you give a shit or not, Axl is back. Chinese Democracy is no longer a broken promise; it's finally a physical G N' R release that you can buy at your local record store. But is it any good? Because No Ripcord is a democracy too, we've decided to allow our writers to voice their own opinions on this long-awaited release. More reviews will be added as and when they arrive (which means the average score above may change).
Whatever you do, don’t think about today. Today isn’t the point. This week isn’t the point. Hell, even all of 2008 is moot in this argument. Yes, Chinese Democracy exists—you may very well be holding that long-delayed Guns N’ Roses album in your hands as you read this. By now, we have all ….
After 14 years at 14 studios with five producers for a cost of almost $14 million, numerous relationships and various label jobs, the big question concerning Chinese Democracy remains, Was it all worth it? Of course not. Chinese Democracy isn't a great rock 'n' roll record. It isn't even a great Guns N' Roses record. Without Slash and Duff McKagan, it's more of an homage to the Guns N' Roses sound by a tribute band fronted by Axl Rose.
I was 7 years old when Guns N’ Roses released The Spaghetti Incident? in 1993. That statement is not meant to draw ageist attention to people who are old enough to have purchased the album -- 15 years is just a long-ass time to wait for a band to put out an album. A whole generation of kids know of Axl Rose as a concept (as in, the last hero of the hair-metal era) but not as an actual person.