Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy (April Fools 2004)
Geffen Records
Hard Rock
13 songs (68:23)
Release year: 2004
Geffen Records
Reviewed by Shane
Major event

The news should just be trickling down to you by the time you read this review. Yes, at long last Guns N’ Roses are releasing Chinese Democracy and I am honoured to be the one to bring the news to you. After countless delays, line up changes and failed tours, W. Axl Rose finally believes that the time is right to release the long anticipated and oddly titled Chinese Democracy in to the world. Perhaps the timing of this release has something to do with the release of a GN’R greatest hits album but it really doesn’t matter so if you haven’t heard about this already, I promise you will here soon because I can tell after only one listen… Guns N’ Roses are back!!!!

The previous statement I made was not made lightly. I am a huge fan of the original line up which produced arguably the greatest hard rock recording of all time in Appetite For Destruction, so my standards for Mr. Rose and company were quite high, even if my expectations were not, thanks to all the line up changes, delays and seemingly mental instability of a certain red haired vocalist. Well, with Chinese Democracy, Axl treats his fans to what is easily the best kept secret (possibly of all time) and now I understand a bit better why Axl hid this album away for so long. He was not only perfecting GN’R’s retooled sound, but was also busy setting a new standard for hard rock, similar to what Guns N’ Roses did back in 1987 with Appetite For Destruction. Rose knew what everyone else was saying, that this album had to deliver or GN’R was done for good and it seems that he took those words to heart and created an album that is sure please all fans, old and new alike.

The effects of making this album with an extremely unstable line-up are not present at all on Chinese Democracy, as the album is cohesive and of the highest quality, which is most likely thanks to Rose’s apparent obsession with perfection. This album features contributions from such on again, off again Gun’s members such as Buckethead (guitar), Robin Finck (guitar), Tommy Stinson (bass), Richard Fortus (rhythm guitar), Dizzy Reed (keyboards), Chris Pittman (keyboards), Paul Huge (guitar), Brian Mantia (drums), Dave Navarro (guitar) and of course, Axl Rose himself. As you may or may not have heard, Buckethead has left Guns N’ Roses and they have cancelled their Rock In Rio performance because of it. Apparently Rose is tired of the revolving door of guitarists and he has decided to learn guitar himself to avoid such problems. I have no idea how much guitar he actually plays on the album, as I am pretty sure that Buckethead still handles most of the duties. It also took several producers such as Mike Clink and Bob Ezrin to make Chinese Democracy, however, I believe that Rose was the real driving force behind this album. He knew what his fans wanted and he delivered with what is easily the biggest surprise and best kept secret yet, as several tracks off of Chinese Democracy feature performances by past members Slash, Duff and even Izzy Stradlin. Many people, including the artists themselves said that this would never happen. Well, it happened and I believe that the world is a better place for it.

Finally, on to the music itself. Chinese Democracy features an extremely eclectic and varied mix of songs and styles, yet the album still manages to maintain a cohesive vibe, perhaps more effectively than the Use Your Illusions albums did. We have all heard Oh My God as it appeared of the End of Days soundtrack back in 1999 and while I like the song, I feared that Chinese Democracy would be filled with heavily distorted, industrial sounding songs of Oh My God’s ilk. This is not the case at all as Oh My God is the exception, rather than the rule. This surprises me because as it turns out Oh My God may have been a little ahead of it’s time when it came out and since tuned down guitars and heavy distortion are still all the rage. I expected Axl to make the safe play and make all of Chinese Democracy similar to this so I was pleasantly surprised to see that other tracks, such as This I Love, Friend or Foe (Ironically featuring the old Guns members) and This I Love are purely straight ahead guitar driven rockers in vein of classic Guns N’ Roses. Other songs that have been previously showcased such as, Silk Worms, Chinese Democracy, The Blues, Madagascar and Rhiad & The Bedouins appear on this album and sound much better than any live versions that I have come across and none of which would be out of place on the Use Your Illusions albums.

To go through Chinese Democracy song by song would spoil the numerous surprises that this album contains so I will leave with this…. if you are or were ever a fan of Guns N’ Roses, or even just a fan of hard rock in general, you must buy this album and I swear that you will not be disappointed. Axl Rose is not as out of touch with reality as the media would let you think and apparently their has been a rhyme and a reason for everything that he has done and after seeing the fruits of his labour, I now begin understand it and so will you. Fear not people, Axl has been listening for the last eleven years to your concerns and he has delivered an album that will surpass the expectations of even the staunchest doubter. Look for this album to be HUGE!!!!

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Shane quoted 97 / 100
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