Monday, November 1st, 2021

Guns N’ Roses – Hard Skool

Nothing lasts forever…


Ian Mathers: Brings back fond memories of my dad coming home with the LP of Appetite for Destruction and me, my brother, and him all standing around the stereo as it played wondering why exactly people were excited about this fuckin’ band in particular.

Claire Biddles: Shoutout to whoever scheduled this alongside the new Adele single — surely the polar opposite of “most keenly awaited song of the year” is “an outtake from the Chinese Democracy sessions released as a single in 2021 for some reason”. And yet, “Hard Skool” is… fun? The chorus is… really catchy? It’s satisfyingly proggy and earnest in the middle? Take the ringing bell sound effect off the start, give this to Måneskin and it would go top ten.

Alfred Soto: Wipe off the mixing board mud and “Hard Skool” would’ve slotted into the first Use Your Illusion album — an Izzy Stradlin co-write, say. Slash sounds terrific; it’s as if he discovered the solo in the act of presenting it. As for Axl, he howls with convincing I’m-a-prat intensity.

John S. Quinn-Puerta: Slash continues to be the salve that saves Guns N’ Roses from mediocrity, his bridge and solo lifting “Hard Skool” from generic headbanging obscurity. For just a few bars, it transcends. 

Harlan Talib Ockey: I genuinely do not know what I expected from new Guns N’ Roses music in 2021. The mere concept sounds ridiculous. I never for a second thought it’d be a real possibility. In a sense, then, I can’t be disappointed; as long there’s something other than silence on this track, it’s inherently interesting, whatever direction they’ve gone in. The path they’ve chosen, however, seems to be “hey, you guys liked Appetite for Destruction, right? We can do that again!” The chorus is an exact hybrid of “Think About You” and “Anything Goes”. The bass intro is “It’s So Easy” with a dash of Velvet Revolver’s “Slither” for texture. The guitar work is such perfectly boilerplate Slash that it almost sounds like an exceptionally good impression of him. It does not include an actual memorable riff at any point, which is kind of remarkable for Slash, and the solo is so completely forgettable that I’m not entirely sure it’s even there. I’m not certain how long the lyrics have existed in this form; a version of the song was written for the Chinese Democracy sessions, but the leaked demo has since been erased from the internet. Whatever the case, they’re drab, and repetitive to the point that any narrative is lost. The band has correctly guessed that the chorus is the strongest part of the song, but cuing it up five times with no changes means the narrator sounds just as angry at the end as at the beginning, despite the second verse claiming otherwise. I realize, though, that I’ve done little but tear into this song for almost three hundred words. The thing about trying to replicate your old songs is that, if done even reasonably well, it can still trigger the same dopamine hit as the ones you first fell in love with. So yes, I have plenty to criticize here, but I went in with absolutely no expectations and the chorus knocked me dead all five times. That’s enough.

Mark Sinker: Almost everything present except the reason for making it, as sour headteacher Axl fingerwags the object of his disapproval. For their own good, I guess…

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