"GnR Democracy." - CD Review.

By Bob Zerull

3 1/2 Stars:

Well, I actually did it; I bought the newest effort from Guns n Ro…er Axl Rose, "Chinese Democracy." Why did I buy it? Curiosity mostly. Is the album good? Yes, I gave it 3 1/2 stars on a 5 star scale. Considering that it took 17 years to make and is probably the most anticipated album of all time I'd say that 3 1/2 stars is kind of a disappointment.



Guns n Roses was the best rock band to come out of the 80's, possibly ever. There was an element of mystery behind the band. Axl Rose came out of the Steven Tyler/Mick Jagger mold of singers and may even be a step above both. Slash became an icon. He just had the look, attitude and sound. Think about the guitar players in the 80's - Eddie Van Halen, Nuno Bettencourt, Paul Gilbert, Vito Bratta, Vai, Satriani and I could go on and on. These guys could probably play circles around Slash, but there's a reason Guitar Hero asked for Slash in the third installment of the game rather the guys mentioned above.

The new Guns n Roses sounds like an over produced virtuoso fest. The solos are amazing on the album, but it's still not Guns n Roses. The album kicks off with the title track and first single "Chinese Democracy." It is a good start to the album. It contains monster guitar riffs and some incredible soloing.

The next song is "Shackler's Revenge." I want to say this is the heaviest song on the album, but it is just too over produced. It has a catchy chorus and I like the main riff of the song, but it quickly becomes nothing more than an over produced song.

The best song on the album is the third track "Better." "Better" is the closest thing on this album to a hit single. While I love the song, it is very much not a Guns n Roses song. It kind of sounds like something Avenged Sevenfold would do. Those guys are virtuoso's in their own right, so this isn't a shot at them.

Track 4 "Street of Dreams" (once a leaked song known as "The Blues") is a piano ballad much like "November Rain" and "Estranged." "Street of Dreams" has another amazing guitar section, but it lacks that ability to take over the song like Slash's playing did.

Up next is "If the World." So far this is the most forgettable track. Too much production, there's no real guitar riff and it sounds like a drum machine rather than a live drummer. "There was a Time" follows and I don't really know how to describe this song. It's kind of just blah. If you had the original band I'd think they could whip this sound into a solid deep track off of one of the "illusion" albums, but here it's just kind of nothing more than a waste of 6 minutes and 41 seconds.



"Catcher in the Rye" is the seventh track and so far is the least Guns n Roses sounding song. I think this is supposed to be one of those Axl epics, but it's missing something here to bring it to that next level.

Does anybody remember the band Yes? The next song "Scraped" starts out kind of like a Yes song, but thankfully jumps right into a nice juicy heavy riff. The next song "Raid N' the Bedouins" continues the powerful sound that "Scraped" had. With these two songs, it almost feels like Axl is trying to redefine the Guns n Roses sound rather than just reproduce it. Early on in the album you can almost picture Axl yelling at Buckethead and the other guitar players to sound more like Slash.

Sebastian Bach makes a guest appearance on the next song "Sorry." Sebastian is one of the best rock singers out there, and it would have been nice if Axl used him more than just a distant background singer. "Sorry" continues the trend of the last two songs in redefining the GNR sound. The next song "I.R.S." was also a leaked song and there's nothing special going on here.

Perhaps the most known leaked song from the album is "Madagascar." This song is the closest Rose gets to recreating that "November Rain" epic. Surprisingly it has the guitar playing that brings the song to that next level. What lacks is that the drums are so over produced that it sounds like a drum machine rather than a real drummer. Another problem with the song is the added sound bites, primarily from Dr. Martin Luther King. I don't have a problem with the sound bites, but it goes on too long. It's really disappointing, because this really is the closest thing to sounding like Guns n Roses.

"This I Love" is the second to last song on the album. This song could be a potential hit. It reminds me of Axl Rose singing a Billy Joel or Elton John song. I could see this song being in used in a movie as a montage to some depressing love story. Finally, the closing track is called "Prostitute." For a closing track this doesn't do much for me. It is a pretty straight forward boring song.

I must say it is refreshing to hear Axl's voice again. I like a lot of the songs on the album, but none of them stand out as amazing. If you're a fan of 80's rock or metal, go pick up the new Metallica or Motley Crue albums, at least those bands are who they say they are. Seriously though, those bands were able to come out with albums that stand up against their best.



BYLINE:

Bob Zerull is a frequent movie and concert goer who talks about his ventures to arenas and theaters more than any person should be allowed to do. Now, he puts them down on paper. Email him your thoughts at: bzerull19@gmail.com.

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