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Friday, October 24, 2008

Guns N' Roses releases first 'Chinese Democracy' single: Was it worth the wait?

Guns N’ Roses fans, the wait is over. After 17 years of polishing --- or whatever it is that rock superstars do when they sequester themselves in studios that cost millions of dollars for a decade-plus --- new GNR music has finally, officially made its way to the public.

“Chinese Democracy,” the title track from the band’s first studio album since 1991, was released Wednesday to radio stations. The track was also available on-line, where it was streaming on various Web sites.

Listen to the track here:

Was the wait worth it? Axl Rose is the only band member left standing from the band’s original incarnation, which has sold 100 million records, and so this is essentially a solo project. Rose sings in the lower end of his range, save for the introduction where his heavily processed voice sounds like a distant air-raid siren; otherwise, the wicked-witch cackle that defined his Sunset Strip bad-boy incarnation in the ‘80s sits this one out.

Nor is Rose’s voice the track’s most prominent feature. It sits inside layers of guitars that sound way fancier than anything original Gunners guitarists Slash or Izzy Stradlin might’ve played. Rose has been working with a small army of musicians in recent years, so the guitars might’ve been played by any number of candidates, including Robin Finck, Richard Fortus and Ron Thal. Despite the noodling, the riffs are heavy.

The track indicates that Rose hasn’t gone soft. But the wanky technical prowess is no substitute for a great song. Beneath the six-string buzz there really isn’t much of a melody, or even a memorable hook. After 17 years, this is the best tune Rose could conjure for the lead single? Not a promising sign for an album that is supposedly going to be made available exclusively at Best Buy stores the week of Nov. 23.