Friday, October 24, 2008
So I checked out the new Guns N' Roses track "Chinese Democracy" yesterday. It relies heavily on the sort of industrial sound that was big about ten years ago -- like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. The guitar riffs have a weird Atari-like analog distortion sound to them, and everything sounds really compressed and distorted. I guess that can happen when you spend 14 years making an album -- rock styles pass you by. Also, there is a ton of guitar soloing going on. This Buckethead guy though -- is he on to something? There's some bluesy playing on the track, sort of like Slash, but then he goes in Whammy-pedal octave jumps and that really cool sliding/stuttering thing with his killswitch (see demo of the killswitch here about 1:10 in). The phrasing is really weird, but it makes sense.
Something I really notice, though, is that he's obviously playing very light strings and using lots of distortion, so the playing comes off as effortless -- something I usually don't go for. Compare, for example, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Marty Friedman in Megadeth, and Slash. Even Charlie Christian sounds like he's using some serious strings, since those were the days before solid-body electric guitars and he used a hollow-body. With these guys, you hear more attack, and more of a straining quality when bending -- heavier strings and heavier picking lend their sound greater weight and authority.* The beginning of Buckethead's solo does create a great little melodic hook though. I always thought that was Slash's best skill, as demonstrated in Estranged, the end of November Rain, and of course Sweet Child O' Mine.
*I've put gauge 10s on my electric guitars since I was fifteen or so, and I can barely play most guitars that are set up with 9s. It feels like playing rubber bands to me.