It was one of the most discussed albums of the 2000s and the lengthy wait for its eventual completion became the stuff of meme legend, but is it time to look at Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy through a different lens? Avenged Sevenfold frontman M. Shadows seems to think so, tweeting, "As a society, are we finally ready to admit that Chinese Democracy by @gunsnroses is a great album?"
The album faced plenty of scrutiny upon its release, given that Axl Rose was the lone remaining member from the band's breakout years and only keyboardist Dizzy Reed had remained with Rose from their '90s success. Band members seemingly came and went, with recording on the record spanning from 1998 to 2007 before it was finally released in November of 2008.
And the longer the wait, the more the mystique built up. In fact, Rose had been talking about Chinese Democracy for so long that at one point The Offspring considered grabbing the title for their new record. "You snooze you lose," Dexter Holland said in a statement shared by MTV. "Axl ripped off my braids, so I ripped off his album title." Though only meant to be a prank, the band did get a cease-and-desist letter.
By the time the album arrived in 2008, a full decade after recording had started, the anticipation was so huge that it would've been hard for Chinese Democracy to stand up to the scrutiny. Upon its arrival, the album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart and it did manage to reach platinum sales status. But the album's life on the airwaves was short-lived with the title track being the only issued single from the record.nThat said, both "Better" and "Street of Dreams" received some radio attention in various parts of the world, with both gaining some popularity amongst GN'R fans as well.
While Shadows doesn't elaborate on why he feels that Chinese Democracy is a great album, it's a sentiment shared by some of his followers on Twitter. One even suggested that Avenged cover GN'R, stating, I"’ve said that for years. Would love to see y’all cover 'Chinese Democracy,' 'Better,' and 'This I Love' off that album. I feel it would be cool on 'This I Love' you play the piano while singing and the duel guitar solos of Syn and ZV."
Another fan pointed out the educational benefit of listening to the album, remarking, "I learned about the oppression of the Falun Gong from the title track…thank you
@axlrose for teaching me history."
One other suggested that Shadows showing his support might have brought them over to giving the album another shot.
But as with most things on social media, it wasn't a total love fest. One follower humorously suggested, "Hahahahaha bro people just decided that they can like St Anger, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves." And yet another got in a pretty solid joke about the album wait, stating, "Loved it since 15 years before it's release."
Though it may not be the most popular Guns N' Roses album, and original members Slash and Duff McKagan have returned to the band, the current GN'R incarnation has worked in a fair amount of Chinese Democracy songs into their sets. "Better," "Madagascar," "Street of Dreams" the title track and "Sorry" have all been included in recent shows.
Guns N' Roses have definitely had an impact on Avenged Sevenfold, with M. Shadows revealing in our 2018 Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction episode that the idea for their band to all have stage names came from their fandom of Guns N' Roses.