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Guns N' Roses - 'Chinese Democracy' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/66/0d/b1/661_gunsnroseschinesedemocracy_1285787917.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 29, 2010    
 
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An album that has divided the critics.

After so many years and a gazillion dollars does anybody really care about ‘Chinese Democracy’? Has the wait be worth it? Is it actually any good? There are so many questions to be answered… Well, early sales figures suggest that there’s still a broad fan base out there that do give a damn. The wait hasn’t been worth it. And it is actually pretty good…in parts. Truthfully, that’s about as good as it was ever going to be considering the sheer amount of hype the album has conjured.

Unsurprisingly, the album has divided the critics: there are those who have penned grovelling reviews in some major US music magazines (they’re probably hoping for an exclusive with the man himself!) and there are those who have launched vicious attacks on Axl and his baby. The credits in the sleeve notes read like the end credits to a major Hollywood historical epic. And the promotional TV advert likening the release of the album to some major global political and social events only proves Axl’s incredible arrogance, but I guess that’s why a ridiculous amount people find him so alluring.

Anyway, moving on… ‘Chinese Democracy’ is bloated and over-produced; there’s so much happening all at once that it requires a lot of time and the patience of a saint. There are countless overdubs and huge sounding guitars layered together like salad on a foot long Subway sandwich. But I’m surprised at how well-written some of it is and how mature the sound is. There are loops, horns, strings, choirs, female backing vocals and even electronica. But sometimes it’s all a bit too much.

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Axl’s voice has come along way; he doesn’t sound like the guy who, twenty years ago, screamed through the likes of ‘Night Train.’ His voice is deeper and occasionally more meaningful. But that’s partly the point. Admittedly, I was expecting something more akin to the ‘Use Your Illusion’ albums but Axl has created something more baffling and contradictory. It’s the complete opposite of the stripped down punk tinged hard rock of their brilliant debut album.

He’s never gotten over his love of ELO, seventies Elton John, David Bowie and early Queen (I’d say pre-‘The Game’), and on ‘Chinese Democracy’ he’s basically sharing with us his adoration for those aforementioned artists. A couple of standout rockers are ‘Riad N' The Bedouins’ and ‘Catcher In The Rye.’ The title-track is a solid opener and ‘Better’ is easily one of the finest songs onboard. But ‘Shakler’s Revenge’ is a jumbled mess and ‘If The World’ is pretentious and overwrought. The fact of the matter is, an analysis of ‘Chinese Democracy’ could go on and on and on…kinda like the making of the album.

Neil Daniels

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