Guns N' Roses, 'Chinese Democracy' (Geffen)

7
Chinese Democracy
Critical Mass
Label: Geffen

by Mikael Wood

Guns N' Roses codependents are rejoicing over Chinese Democracy's long-awaited release, perhaps the most-delayed album in rock history.

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But think, for a second, about our fragile economy: According to a 2005 New York Times story, Axl Rose spent more than $13 million recording this thing; if left unsatisfied, his appetite for construction might keep the West Hollywood service industry afloat for another decade. Is now really the best time for this gravy train to pull into the station?

You bet.

An outrageously overblown pop-metal extravaganza, Chinese Democracy feels like a perfect epitaph for all the absurdity and nonsense of the George W. Bush era -- one final blowout before Principal Obama takes our idiocy away.

The music toggles between two primary modes: grinding industrial rock and keys-and-strings balladry. (Imagine Rammstein covering Wings, basically.) Yet to that blueprint Rose and his battalion of musicians (including no fewer than five guitarists) append every trick new money can buy: hip-hop beats, Middle Eastern–influenced riffs, space-cowboy atmospherics, and, of course, Rose's still-astounding vocals, often multitracked into a paranoid boys chorus.

Singling out highlights seems antithetical to Rose's double-widescreen vision, but with their memorable melodies, "Better," "This I Love," and "Riad N' the Bedouins" (say what?) rise above the aural onslaught.

Blast 'em at top volume as you wave good-bye to our yellow brick road.

PLUS: Read Chuck Klosterman's fake review of Chinese Democracy, which appeared in our April 2006 issue as an April Fools joke, as well as SPIN editor Steve Kandell's review of the real album's first single here.

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