Guns N' Roses "Chinese Democracy" Review — 5 out of 5 stars
Thu, 01 Dec 2011 10:32:53
In 2008, Guns N' Roses unleashed a new classic with Chinese Democracy.
Almost exactly three years since the album's release, it still reverberates with the same intensity, perhaps even more since the band is playing select cuts nightly on tour right now. Still, looking at the band's revered catalog—Appetite for Destruction, G N' R Lies, Use Your Illusion I, Use Your Illusion II, and The Spaghetti Incident?—Chinese Democracy is a masterpiece in its own right. There are a few reasons for that.
Mastermind Axl Rose constructed Chinese Democracy as a record that's meant to be experienced from start to finish. A cackle of voices and sirens set the stage for the ticking time bomb riff at the beginning the title track. His voice gets deep on the verse, practically bellowing out firestarter lyrics, "I know that I'm a classic case. Watch my disenchanted face." It's impossible not to look away once the incendiary refrain begins. Everything spirals out into a deluge of solos, and the final howl culminates with a big bang. Among Guns N' Roses openers like "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Right Next Door to Hell", "Chinese Democracy" is a 21st century powder keg primed to blow on stage or on your iPod.
After a snaky wah sound, industrial flourishes color the dreamily destructive "Shackler's Revenge". Rose darkly croons, "I'm going to pull the trigger and blow them all away". He certainly does as soon as his heavenly high falsetto rises on the chorus. Underneath, his impeccable delivery the song plummets into jagged shredding.
"Better" tows the line from elegant soulfulness to full-blown arena rocker as it flies on the wings of another bluesy lead. Rose simply sounds on fire, seamlessly shifting between his baritone crooning into that scream that revolutionized rock music. His classy piano line adds an epic heft to "Street of Dreams" that makes for another mega ballad to sit proudly on your playlist alongside "November Rain" and "Knockin' On Heaven's Door". After a Spaghetti Western style hum, the six-minute plus "There Was A Time" continues down that path a little later on that album, winding down a darker road simultaneously.
"If the World" shimmies from Latin guitars into airy electronics that sees Rose treading new ground victoriously again. Chinese Democracy envelopes an entire spectrum of genres flawlessly, connecting to Rose's constant boundary-pushing. "Riad N' the Bedouins" is a symphonic rocker that comes to life with a surge of energy directly from that undeniable, unmistakable voice.
"Prostitute" stands alongside Rose's proudest moments as a writer. It balances an orchestral verse alongside lyrical prose that's utterly transfixing. Lines like "I told you when I found you all that amounts to is love that you've crippled for fortune and fame" resound palpably, especially when supported by such impeccable soloing.
Ultimately, Chinese Democracy is exactly everything that a timeless record should be. It has the requisite instrumental virtuosity, daring moments, unpredictable shifts, and the best voice in rock 'n' roll.
You can witness it live right now as Guns N' Roses is rolling across the United States. Experience one of the shows and spin Chinese Democracy again for the full effect…
— Rick Florino
Do you have Chinese Democracy? What's your favorite Guns N' Roses song?
Current Tour Dates Below:
12/01 Detroit MI Palace of Auburn Hills
12/02 Cincinnati, OH U.S. Bank Arena
12/04 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
12/05 Southhaven MS Desoto Civic Center
12/07 Youngstown OH Covelli Center
12/08 Indianapolis, IN Conseco Fieldhouse
12/11 Denver, CO 1st Bank Center
12/13 Salt Lake City UT Maverik Center
12/16 Seattle, WA Key Arena
12/17 Vancouver, BC CAN Pacific Coliseum
12/21 Los Angeles, CA The Forum
12/31 Las Vegas, NV The Joint
Keep an eye out for more from Guns N' Roses at the following links to get news on tour dates and more!
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Visit the official Guns N' Roses site
See our feature on "Guns N' Roses and The Unstoppable Axl Rose" here!