I’d give it 8/10.
Every song is awesome except “Shackler’s Revenge” and “Catcher in the Rye.” “Shackler’s Revenge” has a bit too much of an industrial and nu-metal influence, and it really bugs me. “Catcher in the Rye” looks promising from the name but ends up being a really boring ballad.
Now, on to the good songs -- The title track opens with the sound of Chinese people speaking (maybe alluding to the rumours or “Chinese whispers” spoken about Rose throughout the years) until the guitar crunch kicks in. The riff is heavy and has that powerful stop-start thing until everything else kicks in. It’s definantly a stand-out track.
“Better” is definantly one of the better tracks on the album (excuse the pun). It starts off with a catchy melody on guitar with Axl singing on top. The verses sound like a heavy ballad until the chorus, which sounds like a great epic song. The first guitar solo and the bridge are really heavy; while the second guitar solo is a slow and soulful one. Overall, this song is the best track on the album.
“If the World” is another great track. It’s really different from anything I’ve heard before. It starts off with a Spanish guitar over a funk/pop beat. It’s a great ballad with a great melody.
“Sorry” is a haunting ballad that sticks in your head. Great lyrics and a great melody make the song brilliant and another stand out track.
“I.R.S.” is the second best track on the album and reminds me alot of “The Garden” from Use Your Illusion I. It has a lot of really laid back bits along with angst-filled heavy parts -- a stellar track to a brilliant album.
I’ve loved “Madagascar” since hearing it in the medley Gunners did for the 2001 MTV Awards (Although Axl’s vocals were terrible in that medley). It’s the most epic song they’ve ever done. It’s awesome. I would’ve liked a bit more shred in the solo, but maybe it wouldn’t have suited it, so I don’t know. Once again, I have to say this is one epic song that is an instant GNR classic.
The other good tracks of the album are: “Street of Dreams,” “There Was a Time,” “Scraped,” “Riad N’ the Bedouins,” “This I Love,” and “Prostitute.” Sadly, “Scraped” and “Riad N’ the Bedouins” are the only heavy tracks, as the rest are ballads. Great album, but when you have 9/14 tracks as ballads, it takes away from the brilliance of the record.
One thing to note is the irony that the album took 14 years to make and there’s a song on their last studio album or original material called “14 Years.” It certainly has been 14 years that are gone forever, and Axl will never have again.
Executive Producer, Soundcheck
Joel joined Soundcheck in 2007. Prior to that, he worked at Air America Radio’s The Al Franken Show, Broadcasting & Cable magazine and WRHU-FM in Hempstead, N.Y. His radio career began at the college/alternative station Radio K in Minneapolis.