Sunday, November 23, 2008
WARNING: If you are coming here to read a happy, fantastic review of Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy, you may want to leave now. What I'm about to write is not for the faint of heart.
The bar wasn't set too high for this album. Well, at least my bar wasn't set too high. The anticipation of waiting well over a decade for the new Guns N' Roses album was enough to give this album legendary status before it even hit the masses. But I wasn't ready to give in to all the hype just yet...and thank god I didn't because I would have faced some severe disappointment.
To describe this album as tragic is the understatement of the century. After only hearing the first three songs on my way home from Best Buy, I was screaming at my stereo at the top of my lungs...literally. I was screaming out of shear horror and anger. Could this album be this bad? Really? I thought my initial reaction might be a little harsh, so I wasn't going to let my first taste determine the entire outcome of my opinion.
Upon my second,third, and fourth listen, I still wasn't that impressed, but I was a little less angry...just a little.
My first big beef, like I stated in a previous blog, is that this should NEVER have been labeled a Guns N' Roses album. It's the Axl Rose Project, and that's all there is to it. I wanted to give Axl the benefit of the doubt. He worked long and hard for this, so I hoped that he would stick to the original Guns N' Roses recipe at least a little bit. Sure, he was going to change up the ingredients a little, but I thought the flavor would remain the same or even similar. Not so much. He threw out most of the old ingredients and came up with some concoction of experimental, electronic, pop rock. There are trace amounts of Use Your Illusion era GnR here and there, but not enough to make me feel like this is a Guns N' Roses album. All the electronic bullshit effects, the drum machines, the weird Casio keyboard sounds, and the effects on Axl's voice are completely distracting. It almost sent me into convulsions because it was so damn irritating.
The second major complaint I have with this album is Buckethead. The whole "I'm going to be mysterious and wear a bucket on my head" gimmick annoys me enough, but his guitar playing sends me over the edge and is enough to make me slit my wrists. There are a couple songs on the album that might have potential, and then Buckethead comes in and ruins everything. As if it wasn't obvious, I'm not a fan of his weird, offbeat, new wave guitar playing. It's just not my bag baby. Thank god for Robin Finck. His guitar playing may be the only saving grace for this album.
Listen, if you're looking for a Guns N' Roses album, this is not it. Everything you have grown to love about Guns N' Roses as a band is nowhere to be found on this album. If Slash, Duff, and Steven Adler/Matt Sorum were playing on this album, it might actually work. But since there are a myriad of players, there is no consistency and no flow and it just doesn't work for me. With every listen, it just left me with my head cocked and with a quizical look on my face because I just couldn't wrap my mind around what was going on.
However, if you look at this album in a different light, like it's Axl Rose's new project, it all tends to work a little better. Why? Because you're not walking into it expecting to hear classic Guns N' Roses. That's why. It's definitely something a little different, something you might not expect from Axl, but it's interesting. It's the Axl of the new millenium, and he's trying something new. That being said, I still wish he would have let his legendary voice shine through a little more instead of singing weird or using effects.
Was it worth 14 years (or 15 years or 17 years or however long it took) of hype and anticipation? Absolutely not. Am I disappointed? That's an understatement. Do I regret buying it? No way. It's Axl Rose and I will always love him. I'd probably buy a turd if he wrapped it up and packaged it. Oh wait...I did.
So much for keeping my opinions to myself! ;)