Chinese Democracy is St. Anger.
I was a huge fan of Guns 'n Roses back in the day. They were unapologetic and had songs to crank up and scream along with. When I saw them in 1988 in Seattle opening for Iron Maiden it still is the best double bill I have ever witnessed.
That being said, I more or less ignored Chinese Democracy when it came out. Guns 'n Roses had not released a record in 15 years and the band on this record was not the band I liked. This band was the singer with a bunch of new guys. I once joked it was "Axl Rose and the Hired Guns".
Had there been activity over the years I would have accepted the changes, they happen. But, Velvet Revolver, essentially the band without Axl had moved on and released a record I really liked a few years earlier. And, let's face it, Axl really is hard to sympathize with. So, the record came out, I heard a song or two on the radio, and promptly ignored it.
Axl Rose recently posted an open letter explaining his choice to not accept or be involved in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction of Guns 'n Roses. I read it. Okay ... a new level of diva has emerged, even for him. But, I also realized I had not given his new version of the band an actual chance. I checked out a library copy of Chinese Democracy and let it spin a few times the way I do with new records. Well,, there are some interesting pieces on the record, I will give Axl that. At times it sounds like the same band, but it also is pretty uneven in style, like it was recorded over a long period with a bunch of different members ... which it was. Basically, when my son asked I used St. Anger from Metallica as an example. See, it too was recorded over a long time of turmoil, is really personal to the guys in the band, but is lacking in those songs that really grab you and want to crank it up. Chinese Democracy is lacking that Paradise City or November Rain, the songs you just turn up when they come on. Sure, some good stuff here and there, but not record I really would want to just grab and crank up. I wanted to like this more, like a huge surprise gift, but I didn't.