With Guns N' Roses masterpiece, or rather Rose's masterpiece released, many feel this may be the end of a long era with a rather short-lived musical output. Many feel tensions within the band are currently at breaking point, with rumours rife that lead guitarist Robin Finck has become distanced from the group.
As well as this, recent news of both Brain and Buckethead not being invited back to the fold - despite their large musicial input on this album, both physically and creatively - is also taking its strain on the group. Thrown into this rather speculative mix is Paul Tobias, who was believed not to have been a member of the band for the last 6 years, has now been named as having co-written several tracks; he performs on all but three of them.
In the album credits it can be seen that Rose only writes one track on the album ('This I Love'), with his team of musicians chipping in wherever possible. In all, Pitman, Finck, Reed, Tobias, Mantia, Carroll and Freese have all written and contributed to tracks. Moreover, Chinese Democracy also features writing credits from producers, with Caram Costanzo contributing a writing credit to the tracks 'Shackler's Revenge' and 'Scraped'.
Composer Pete Scaturro also has a writing credit, working on such theme tunes as 'The Practice' and Disney's 'Zoog'. This diversion shows the amount of influences called on by this album. Essentially, it's a team effort, and that seems important to Axl: it has been stated in the past that despite being the only original founder member of Guns N' Roses, this is far from a solo project. Another question is the time in which it has taken to complete this album. It's important to note that of all the tracks performed live and previously leaked, only one ('Silkworms') has not yet appeared in its final studio form on a GNR album.
As a result, it's questionable what plans (if any) Axl has for follow-up material and how long this could take. Surely it can't take another 15 years (by which time Rose would be in his 60s), but while Chinese Democracy has been rumoured to be a trilogy of albums - with good friend Sebastian Bach saying the last of which will be released in 2012 - there is no indication of a recurrence at this time.
There have also been no tour announcements, and Axl's silence in the immediate aftermath of this release (despite positive reviews of the album), creates the feeling of uncertainty in the future. The lack of a video with a physical single release is also unusual for a band of Guns N' Roses' calibre, since there will be no live performances from the band around the time of the album release; it's essentially being released without a word from the artists involved. Whether the group have a future or not simply remains to be seen at this time.
After several years of disinformation, rumour and innuendo, it looks like Chinese Democracy has finally seen the light of day. As you unwrap that CD and hear this LP's tracks for the first time, remember that you are listening to a decade's worth of work.
Guns N' Roses are back, and this time, it's for real!
The Guns N' Roses Story
Part 1: Introducing Guns N' Roses
Part 2: Guns N' Roses Today
Part 3: Guns N' Roses: The Future