Album Spotlight: Chinese Democracy

December 11, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

Chinese Democracy finally came out this year. And we've got a breakdown of each track for you. I am joined by fellow metalhead Chaim Witz on this one. If you must combine our names, it would be something like Chunk Ditz. But if you call either of us that in the press, we will punch you right in the nose, buddy...

1. Chinese Democracy - After starting out with an extended 'spooky intro' (*mandatory for any hard rock band who goes over a decade between new releases - see Motley Crue: "SOLA"), the title track kicks in with a guitar riff that is not to be taken lightly. This is probably the only track on the whole album that has a straightforward, tight feel as opposed to being epic (and sometimes overly ambitious). Without a discernible chorus, some may dismiss this track as forgettable, but those people probably listen to Coldplay. A solid hard rock track that doesn't necessarily set the table for the rest of the album.

2. Shackler's Revenge - When this song came out on Rock Band or Guitar Hero or one of those games, I heard a bunch of very negative things about it. But honestly, I dig this song. Sure, it's a Nine Inch Nails ripoff, but honestly, what isn't these days?

3. Better - This song is nothing short of brilliant. Even the haters would be hard pressed to dismiss this song with an upturned nose and adjustment of their ascot. This is classic GnR, updated for 2008. Everything that you could possibly want is there. Bitter lyrics chronicling love gone wrong, a insanely hook-y chorus, a face-melting guitar solo by Buckethead and enough tonal changes to keep you interested throughout. Watch out for that 'wall of guitars' about 2.5 minutes into the song. Your dick will unceremoniously be knocked into the dirt and you'll end up wearing out the rewind button on your listening device.

4. Street Of Dreams - You can tell that Axl really wanted to make this one 'November Rain Part II'. Not a bad song, but a little more Emo than one would expect from Mr. Rose. Excellent solo by Buckethead or Bumblefoot or whoever played it. Were all the guitar tracks played by Smurfs on this damn album?

5. If the World - This song begins with a flamenco guitar and drum machine before settling into a mild, mid-tempo R&B groove. It doesn't really work for me. It's not terrible, but probably shouldn't have made the cut after 15+ years. My brother, and avowed GnR skeptic, said 'this sounds like Peter Gabriel'. I wanted to argue with him, but really, I couldn't.

6. There Was A Time - Knowing what I know about Axl Rose, I wouldn't doubt that he wrote this entire song just to have a track on this album whose acronym was T.W.A.T. There is a 0% chance that was just a little coincidence.

7. Catcher in the Rye - If 'Street of Dreams' is this albums attempt to recapture 'November Rain', this is probably the closest they come to 'Sweet Child O' Mine'. This is SCOM if it tested positive for steroids. Upbeat, catchy verses, a 'la la' chorus, pianos, a few strings and a guitar solo that actually sounds like something Slash would play as opposed to Buckethead/Bumblefoot. One of the better tracks after numerous listens.

8. Scraped - There certainly seem to be a lot of songs on Chinese Democracy that sound like they were "inspired" by earlier Guns N' Roses songs. It's better than drawing inspiration from Nickelback. Anyway, this one is pretty straightforward rock. Call it 'Welcome To The Jungle Deuce'.

9. Riad N' The Bedouins - I have no idea what that weirdly cool title means, but after a slew of mid-tempo songs and ballads, this song gets things rocking again. The sound of this one isn't too far removed from the stuff on the Use Your Illusion albums. A couple of strange Buckethead solos keep this one interesting.

10. Sorry - This song is pretty trippy. After a few listens, you wonder who Axl is apologizing to and why he felt he had to do so in such an out-there way. Don't forget to listen carefully at 0:35 into the song when for no reason whatsoever, Axl sings one line of the song in a quasi-Transylvanian accent. Why? Who cares? Has Axl not proven over the last 15 years that he does whatever he wants to without asking questions?

11. IRS - Upon first listen this was one of my favorite tracks on the album (I had heard a leaked version of this one years ago too), but after numerous spins, I'm not so sure. The solos are great, the chorus is catchy, and it's radio-friendly...but something is off. It just seems a bit clunky and awkward and kind of chugs along when it seems to me it should be kicked up a notch.

12. Madagascar - Which voice did Axl do in this movie? The zebra? The hippo? Or was he the Spanish cat that had the boots and the sword? Or the donkey? I thought that was Eddie Murphy...I'm so confused...

13. This I Love - (Axl at a piano. The spotlight shines down. His dreads glimmer like diamonds. The light illuminates his Charles Woodson Raiders jersey. A woman who was hot 15 years ago takes off her top to reveal that she is now much worse for the wear. The bigscreen behind the stage flashes images of clouds, teary eyed African children, wilted flowers and a mysterious man in a raincoat. A few people raise their lighters into the air, but much of the crowd has quit smoking since 1991. The rest head to the bathrooms.)

14. Prostitute - This song is pretty much just filler. Nothing terrible about it, but you might as well skip back to one of the other songs on the album and not waste any time.