Album: Guns N' Roses, Chinese Democracy, (Black Frog)

Flying pigs and angry old men: Axl is back, at last
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The Independent Culture

As the years have passed, the pigs-will-fly humour of the title 'Chinese Democracy' has become apparent (the gag being that we're unlikely to see either in our lifetimes).

But, to the amazement of everyone, Axl Rose has finally dropped the longest-awaited album in metal history. Was it worth it? From the first riff on the title track, which rips off the Darkness, the answer is no. After 14 years, a reported $13m and no fewer than five guitarists, the sound – give or take the sub-Prodigy electronics of "Shackler's Revenge" – remains badass hard rock, although the vocals range from a young man's whine (the twisted-testes scream of "Street of Dreams") to an old man's croak, suggesting they were recorded years apart. Why the delay? In fairness, Rose's hired (and fired) hands have laid down some decent riffs, notably on "Riad N' the Bedouins", but they're wasted on songs which typically make their point in two minutes, but roll on till six. The alluring nihilism which made GnR so thrilling is now spent, and all that's left is an angry old man shouting.

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Pick of the album: 'November Rain', 2008-style: 'Street of Dreams'