Written by The Nice Asshole
Rose’s growls seem to grow to an exasperated screech throughout the album. Rose has always been a talented vocalist, and a good piece of the puzzle. In Chinese Democracy he becomes the crux, which is not his strong-suit. His vocals are VERY apparent on this album, often sounding like his head is ready to pop from the lengthy high-notes he sustains. It’s commendable, and at the same time fucking annoying.
Early on, Axl made the right decision by surrounding himself with capable musicians and producers. Most of the flavor in this album comes from the vast personnel that Rose has employed over the years. Specifically, listening to Buckethead and the newly inaugurated Bumblefoot’s guitar creations is a BIG treat. Both musicians have legacies in their own right, and could return to greatness without GNR.
Just to highlight some of my other favorite contributors to the album: Somewhere in the mix, Brain played drums on this record, and Brian May recorded a guitar track or two. Josh Freese, drummer-whore extraordinaire also put some tracks down at one point.
And what would a Gun ‘N Roses’ album be without some classic ballads? There are no “November Rain’s” on Chinese Democracy, but songs like “There Was A Time” and “Catcher In The Rye” come close enough. Both could easily have been on Use Your Illusion, and might have been better in that regard. At least someone would have made Rose lay off the shitty vocal effects. These are LITTERED throughout the album like it’s going out of style.
One good thing that could come out of this debacle: If the album flops, Rose might see the err of his ways and attempt to get the original lineup back together. And honestly, that might just be the best thing for them. Pull Steven Alder out of Celebrity Rehab before he dies, get Izzy back in the mix, and then make sure Slash + Duff are happy. A reunion would be the biggest gift to the fans.
When all is said and done, we’re not the only ones, who look at life this way, that’s what the old folks say, Rose laments in “Catcher In The Rye”, and he couldn’t be more accurate. His “old” mentality and the need to be on top of the world again must have been a motivation to finally release this album. And to his credit, Chinese Democracy is a beautiful paradox. It also feels like the last act in a boring play that we’ve seen time and time again.
Axl, it’s time to take off the wig and hang-up towel… and let Slash come back to redeem you.