Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses

The members of Guns N’ Roses have an intuitive understanding of music that has never had an equal. Just listen to “Mr. Brownstone”- clearly, there’s some kind of tonality to the opening riff, but it’s not anything I recognize, or anything I can parse through. The swing rhythm of that song focuses hard on the off-beats to create the bounciest song ever, and then they end the song by completely leaving behind swing without the listener even noticing. This album is known for its ambitious, almost classical composition; the legendary opening to “Welcome to the Jungle”, with every band member slowly coming in as the melody changes and develops, simply doesn’t feel like it belongs in modern music. That song, built on a brilliant descending pentatonic riff which constantly takes on chord function, wanders through keys like a bear through aisles of a grocery store, crafting an intricate, original, and uniquely powerful harmony. Throughout this album, Guns N’ Roses shred hard, from the intensely violent minor cacophony of “It’s So Easy” and “My Michelle” to the measured jams which focus on innovative harmony, like “Nightrain” and “Think About You”. Every track on this album succeeds, and also “Shadow of Your Love”, which they recorded for this album and finally released in 2018 (sort of). The lyrics are, of course, a disturbing take on the grit at the heart of urban America, and the music oozes that sublime feeling of filth. Steven Adler’s drums give this album an unequaled energy, Slash brings out those dramatic Wagnerian riffs, Duff McKagan’s bass blazes its own path as an audible and good instrument, Izzy Stradlin fits perfectly into the mix, and Axl Rose’s uncontrollable screams give the music a wild fervor. Every part of this album is innovative and incomparable, and I really have to study this one a lot more. I could gush for pages about songs on this album that I haven’t even mentioned yet; you’ve just gotta hear this album.

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