By Bob Nalbandian

CD Reviews January 2009

Chinese Democracy

This is not Guns & Roses...period. This is nothing more than the Axl Rose solo project with an array of nameless session musicians. Infact, Chinese Democracy is as much a Guns & Roses record as Seventh Star is a Black Sabbath Record. (And at least that was respectfully titled "Tony Iommi's Black Sabbath"). In either case it's a pathetic attempt of the record company trying to cash in on a once marketable commodity, and that is exactly what "Guns & Roses" is today...a product, not a band. The true Guns & Roses...the band that put out Appetite For Destruction...had an unequivocal chemistry between it's 5-members with guitarist Slash's unique style and swagger, Izzy Stradlin's genius songwriting and Steven Adler's loose and lethal grooves.

But I honestly don't fault Axl for this debacle; I blame the record label, Geffen, for their utmost stupidity in giving free reign to this delusional, self-obsessed twat. I mean come on...fifteen f**kin' years with millions being heedlessly handed over to this washed-up dope thinking that they would somehow recoup their costs and regain their multi-platinum success with only Axl in tow...Pleeese! This album is the perfect example of why major record companies are in the shitter today. It has less to do with the illegal downloading of music and more to do with dimwitted record execs that don't have a f**kin' clue. To give you an idea of how absurd the budget was for this recording, not only was Chinese Democracy recorded at a gazillion different studios over the last two decades, the label also allegedly budgeted the payroll for the revolving "cast" members (ie: musicians, assistants, servants, swamis, and whoever else in Axl's entourage needing a handout) and they even went as far as hiring a private investigator to serve a 24-hour surveillance on (the admittedly very talented) whacked-out guitar player Buckethead, who was only to be ousted half-way through the recordings. What really irks me is the fact that it is the consumer who ultimately pays the price for this misleading rubbish.

I initially wrote a review of this CD upon first listen from the online streams prior to the release but felt that Axl deserved better than that so now that this CD has been out for a few months and I've given it the chance to grow on me and I have once again come to the conclusion that Chinese Democracy is a mediocre rock record at best. Firstly, there is not a single track on this record that stood out in my mind. In fact, it was pretty much what I expected from Axl. The played-out Rob Zombie industrial-style beats in songs like "Shackler's Revenge" may have once been considered "modern-sounding" back in 1994 but sounds overly conventional today (but then again this record took nearly 15 years to produce so this track could have very well been recorded in 1994. Pathetic.) If I had to pick a standout track it would have to be the jazzy-funk number "If The World" for the simple reason that it is not only unexpected but well-executed. "Scraped" and "Riad N' the Bedouins" are worthy of mention but in no way mind-blowing. Axl's vocals admittedly sound great, but then again if I spent over 13 years locked up in first-class recording studios with a dozen top-name producers and engineers with today's modern technology I bet even I could come-off sounding like Axl Rose! And I certainly can do without all the over-produced sappy ballads. In conclusion, Chinese Democracy definitely does not come close to living up to all the hype that's been built up around this release over the last few years. If Guns & Roses truly wants to soldier on with respect, Axl seriously needs to bury the hatchet and get Slash, Steven Adler, Duff, and Izzy back into the fold. Until that happens the name Guns & Roses is dead and buried.

Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 16 Page 2