|"Oh My God" provides glimpse at singer Axl Rose's new incarnation of hard-rock band.
Staff Writer Brian Hiatt reports:
"Oh My God," the first new release in six years from hard-rockers Guns N' Roses, which officially shipped to radio stations Monday (Oct. 11), provides a glimpse at frontman Axl Rose's intense new incarnation of the band.
Some fans who have already heard "Oh My God" embraced the song, which adds electronic effects to a track that is as aggressive and abrasive as anything ever recorded by Guns N' Roses, while radio programmers expressed a mix of enthusiasm and caution.
"We were surprised by how hard it is it's not just hard, but edgy," said Neal Mirsky, program director for Philadelphia active-rock station WYSP-FM, one of several stations nationwide that began playing the song early. "It almost sounds like he spent some time with Marilyn Manson."
Much of "Oh My God" finds Rose screaming rapid-fire lyrics through electronic filters, which does lend the track an occasional resemblance to shock-rocker Manson's earlier work, as well as that of Nine Inch Nails frontman (and former Manson producer) Trent Reznor.
The uptempo track begins with a churning guitar riff that evokes the Guns N' Roses signature sound of such hits as "Welcome to the Jungle", but quickly explodes into thickly distorted rhythm guitars and a pounding, industrial beat.
In the head-banging chorus section, which is introduced with a harsh pulse of feedback, Axl can be heard singing what sounds like, "Oh my God/ I can't deny this ... I can't fight this."
On the slightly more melodic bridge, Axl sings, "Ooh, I opened your eyes," after which the song breaks into a brief, tortured solo from Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck. The solo's sound is worlds away from the lyrical, bluesy work of former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash.
Some fans of the band said they didn't mind Rose's new direction. "Although it is completely different than anything we've heard from Axl before, it is still great," Nathan Fink, a fan from Boston, wrote in an e-mail.
Others maintained that "Oh My God" is not a particularly radical departure from the band's past work, even though only Rose is the sole remaining original member. Both Eric Matsuda, 21, of California nd Mike Lyle, 15, of Tennessee said the song could've fit in well on 1991's Use Your Illusion albums.
"This is Guns N' Roses updated for the '90s, and unlike other bands who have tried to update their sound, such as Metallica, they seem to be doing it while maintaining a sense of themselves and their sound," Matsuda wrote in an e-mail.
Still others were disappointed. "This new song is not a Guns N' Roses song," Canadian fan Oliver Rattus, 20, wrote in an e-mail.
Several radio programmers and DJs also said they disliked the song, but declined to speak on the record about it.
But according to Mirsky, whose station has been playing "Oh My God" since the weekend, doubters may eventually change their minds. "When I first heard it, it scared the hell out of me, but by the third or fourth time, I was starting to like it," he said.
Jim McGuinn, program director of Philadelphia alternative-rock station WPLY-FM, said that he hasn't heard the track, but plans on keeping an open mind. "I think I'd like to toss it on and let the audience decide if they're into Guns N' Roses circa 2000," he said.
In a statement released in September, Rose wrote that the song, which will be on the soundtrack to the upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie "End of Days," "contemplates several abstract perspectives drawing from personal expression as well as from the film ... and its metaphors."
A spokesperson for Interscope, the band's label, could not be reached for comment on the song.
The "End of Days" soundtrack, which also features songs by Limp Bizkit, Korn, Everlast and Eminem, is expected to hit stores Nov. 9.
"Oh My God" is the first original work from Guns N' Roses whose hits also include the power ballad "Sweet Child O' Mine" since the albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II were released on the same day in 1991. An album of covers titled The Spaghetti Incident? followed in 1993.