Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 28
  2. Negative: 2 out of 28
  1. Here are the simple things about Chinese Democracy: Three of the songs are astonishing. Four or five others are very good. The vocals are brilliantly recorded, and the guitar playing is (generally) more interesting than the guitar playing on the "Use Your Illusion" albums.
  2. It's touching on a human level. Noble, even. I didn't think he had it in him.
  3. The first Guns n' Roses album of new, original songs since the first Bush administration is a great, audacious, unhinged and uncompromising hard-rock record.
  4. It's a good album, no less and no more.
  5. It's an exhilarating album. Seriously, after finally hearing these 14 tracks in their finished form I was so energized I wanted to climb a mountain.
  6. Whether history declares it a tragedy or a farce, this is one album that's more than a pop exercise. And for that, Axl Rose can finally take a bow.
  7. Chinese Democracy is comfortably the most consistent record the band have put out since "Appetite For Destruction," and proof the ginger midget can put out genuinely great rock music without the blonde giant and the black guy.
  8. The artist is in fine, ever-changing voice throughout, and there's certainly a ton of musical food for thought here, requiring several listens before the nuances are revealed. Worth the wait? Maybe. Worth a few hours of your time? Definitely.
  9. 70
    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.
  10. While few have ever actually accused the singer of using good judgment, Chinese Democracy shows him to be a man who, however divorced from reality, hasn't lost the instincts that once made him great.
  11. 70
    Chinese Democracy's non-existence is so well-known and ingrained, the source of so many jokes, that its actual existence can only be a letdown. That is until you hear it. Then, somewhat astonishingly, 5,475 days, at least $13 million, fourteen studios, twenty or so musicians (including five guitarists and a harpist) seems just about right.
  12. At times it's possible to hear the world-changing CD that Rose--whose banshee howl remains gloriously intact....But too often quantity gets in the way of quality.
  13. Chinese Democracy is clearly not the greatest rock album ever made, but nor is it an absolute and utter failure. The irony is, that for all the lavishing of money and time and technology, it's saved by something as old fashioned as a good tune.
  14. It is odd that something so standard provides the denouement to this album, trying to span over a decade of fan loyalty. Will they buy it? Undoubtedly. Will they like it? Who knows.
  15. It is ridiculous. It is overblown, it's pompous, it's aggressive and it's absurdly ambitious. But, here's the rub: it's actually pretty damn good. It rocks, often pretty hard.
  16. Yet even if it defies expectations, Chinese Democracy is not the masterpiece that it so desperately wants to be.
  17. While the album can aptly be termed “good,” it isn’t the epic that many might expect, especially to those whose interests have long since shifted away from GN’R’s aesthetic and the younger generation unable to emotionally connect with the sounds.
  18. Mojo
    Chinese Democracy reveals itself to be an ambitious, brave and expansive offering. [Feb 2009, p.108]
  19. Even if Chinese Democracy had dropped a decade previous, it would still sound dated.
  20. While the band's label, fans and a handful of rock journalists would like to hail this album as the Second Coming of Rock, the reality is that Chinese Democracy is neither a musical resurrection nor the audio equivalent of Ishtar.
  21. Too bad the epitaph’s already scrawled in Chinese Democracy’s anachronistic margins: a bottomless pit dug by disposable income, a persecution complex and egomania.
  22. 40
    Soundwise, Chinese Democracy is all over the place.
  23. Meandering atmospheric intros and outros, with lyrics that often just repeat the same verse ad nauseum, overshadow what could be, at times, shorter, snappier songs.
  24. For all the wank and bluster throughout the album’s 14 tracks, the bottom line is that the shit simply doesn’t rock.
  25. The album fifteen years in the making that sounds like a slick but robotic imitation of what it might have been long ago.
  26. Q Magazine
    By throwing everything at the wall and nailing up the stuff that didn't stick, he's done himself--and more importantly what he clearly views as his masterpiece--a grand disservice. [Jan 2009, p.110]
  27. Even if it came out in 1996, it would still be self-absorbed, turgid, over-produced and soulless.
  28. Under The Radar
    Chinese Democracy is a multi-million dollar dud, an example of faded brilliance and wasted time. [Winter 2009]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 427 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 52 out of 427
  1. Jul 29, 2012
    I think this recording shines in utter atmospheric beauty. Apart from the ever present hate from mr rose he's a genius. He has really become aI think this recording shines in utter atmospheric beauty. Apart from the ever present hate from mr rose he's a genius. He has really become a crime by not making music for all these years. This one's so craved for that it's doomed to fail but then i realise it's pearl of passion! Best album of 21 century to date. Full Review »
  2. Feb 11, 2013
    I'm an avid fan of Appetite for Destruction and the raw essence of GNR's original 80's lineup (lets face it...who isn't? So right away II'm an avid fan of Appetite for Destruction and the raw essence of GNR's original 80's lineup (lets face it...who isn't? So right away I openly concede Chinese Democracy (CD) is not of that revolutionary ilk... But well... Duh! Given Appetite is one of the world's all time top 5 albums ever, a once in a generation freak of a record and given the original line-up that so forcefully gave it life are now, but for Axl, long gone... well... how could it ever be? Yet it is from that unrealistic expectation that most music industry elites (critics) have passed what seems, objectively at least, to be generally unfair collective judgment. Revealingly though, their view is not that of the great unwashed... nor is it mine!

    Chinese Democracy (CD) is a beautifully composed, fantastically diverse and powerfully mature rock album that successfully manages to rock your socks-off on one hand and gently caress the depths of your emotions on the other! In this sense, its Use Your Illusions lineage is clearly evident, as is Axl's significant contribution to that lineage. The quality of this album cannot objectively be denied or dismissed and the fact it often has been, says far more about the prejudices of industry elites than anything they've ever said about this Album. Chinese Democracy (CD) is a real gem with great rock tracks cut straight from the traditional GNR-mold (Chinese Democracy, Shackler's Revenge, Better, Scraped, Raid N' The Bedouins). But its true brilliance lies in its embrace of a far more deeply embedded purpose than mere appeasement of addicts hooked on that old-school GNR sugar hit! From soaring rock anthems (Street of Dreams, There Was a Time, Madagascar) to expressive rock ballads (Catcher in The Rye, This I Love, Prostitute) to deeply introspective musical reflections (If the World, Sorry, I.R.S.) Axl has finally revealed the true source of his genius vulnerability and insecurity in all its guises. This sophisticated concoction Axl's designer drug for a new century is far more complex, discerning, introspective, longer lasting on the palette and immensely satisfying on a much deeper level than anything he's done before. But only after it is played over and again, will the intricately cut angles and facets of this huge rock of an album reveal the fill depth of its brilliance and sparkle... All you need is just a little patience! So whilst GN’R was never just W. Axl Rose alone, what Chinese Democracy proves above all else, is that without the flamboyent presence, creative genius, and powerful life-force of this enigmatic front man, GNR is nothing. In short: Chinese Democracy is a must buy for all those Guns N' f?@#ing Roses fans who've stuck with em through all the f?@#ing s$!t... and for all those opposed... well...I give it 8/10... suck on that... Yeaaaaaah!
    Full Review »
  3. Mar 27, 2011
    The Good: It's a Guns N Roses album that wasn't recorded in the 80s or 90s.
    The Bad: It's a Guns N Roses album that wasn't recorded in the 80s
    The Good: It's a Guns N Roses album that wasn't recorded in the 80s or 90s.
    The Bad: It's a Guns N Roses album that wasn't recorded in the 80s or 90s...
    The Ugly: The only member of the original band left is Axl. Slash's presence is sorely missed on Chinese Democracy. It's a bland album, uninspired, and sounds almost like a cover band for GNR that made a half-assed attempt to record their own original music. There will be no classics remembered from Chinese Democracy. It's a throw away album. If you buy it, it will probably get lost on purpose or be thrown away. Its 90% garbage. And I'm not biased by old GNR albums either, Nine Inch Nails is a band that keeps re-inventing itself a little bit every album and in my opinion one of very few rock bands to come out of the 80s and succeed through the 90s and 00s, still going strong into 2011. Axl could take a lesson or two from Trent Reznor, don't make fans wait for hours to see rock shows and don't spend a decade crafting such a terrible, terrible album, blaming everyone else along the way for the fifteen year delay, filing suit after suit over honestly fairly petty crap. Axl needs to grow up, call up Slash, bring back the old band, do the reunion tour, and then MAYBE record new material, or just let the GNR name die a less painful death and just go away.
    Full Review »