MUSIC REVIEW: Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy


Guns N’ Roses
Chinese Democracy
(Geffen Records)

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I have always wanted to believe in the myths and legends that make life interesting. Aliens do exist and occasionally abduct little old ladies to anal probe them, for whatever scientific knowledge they gain from such activities. There is a Lochness monster and a Bigfoot, who emerge every now and then to smile for a grainy picture before vanishing again. In fact, over the last few years both creatures have made more appearances than Axl Rose, who vanished from rock and roll for almost 15 years, leaving only whispers of the great masterpiece he was working on – Chinese Democracy.

Like many GNR fans, I wanted to believe the album would truly be the great work of a reclusive genius. I wanted to believe that Axl would unleash his unmistakable guttural howl to reclaim his rightful rock and roll throne. He had one of those once in a lifetime, unforgettable rock and roll voices but without his original band behind him something is missing. Chinese Democracy is simply not a Guns N’ Roses album, no matter how much we may all want it to be.

It is very polite to call this an experimental, moody solo album of ballads by a singer who still has his voice, but has lost his musical direction in every other sense. Axl’s dirty, forlorn scream brings a few remarkable tracks to life, such as “Madagascar” and “Better,” but this confused, out of time album simply has no spirit or identity of its own. There will never be another Slash, no matter how many studio guitarists try in vein to recreate the sweetly violent, electric orgasms of sound that first drove us wild on Appetite for Destruction.

Axl was once the front man for an unbelievably talented band whose raw power and gritty urban sound brought metal back into mainstream radio with a vengeance in the 1980’s. Without them, some invisible circle of karmic energy that set the rock world on fire so many years ago is dead and gone, perhaps forever. The world got one historic album from Guns N’ Roses so long ago and we may just have to be thankful Axl cannot find a way to go back in time and fuck that one up too.

As I listened to Chinese Democracy over and over, trying to love it, I realized what it was – the official death certificate for Guns N’ Roses. You can sit in your room listening to Appetite, secretly yearning to see Axl snake dancing again, but GNR will never make music again. And if you got your free Doctor Pepper, sip slowly and enjoy – it may be the best thing to come out of this disastrous record.

Adam J. Rodriguez

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