“Listen motherfuckers to the song that should be heard!” bellows W. Axl Rose, cocky as ever.
Guns N’ Roses like to drop bombshells and they did this week when “Silkworms” returned to the setlist after an absence of almost two decades. It had been reworked and retitled “Absurd”, now augmented with Slash n’ Duff’s involvement. In another surprise bombshell, they just released a studio version. The first new Guns N’ Roses music since Chinese Democracy and first with Slash and Duff since 1994.
“Silkworms” is am interesting choice to release as the first new song with the old legends back in the band. It’s always going to be associated with the Chi-Dem era. The version I knew had Robin Finck and Buckethead on guitar. Brain on drums. Tommy Stinson on bass. A lot has changed! Slash is audible but more Slash-y sounds would be have appreciated. Duff sounds brilliant. Why not an actual new song? I don’t know…but at the same time, I’m glad “Silkworms” finally got a release as “Absurd”. It was always deserving of a proper studio release.
Axl sings in that punky “Down on the Farm” character, and the lyrics are as venomous as they were in 2001. “Parasitic demons sucking acid through your heart!” He sounds quite good; better than the concert versions we’ve heard thus far. The vocal is mixed to sound like a megaphone because, hey, it was the Chi-Dem era. There’s a disorienting quiet section in the middle that also hearkens back to that quaint time.
Good tune, but those of us who have craved “Silkworms” for 20 years are biased to a good impression. Those who didn’t like it won’t be turned, and those who want something more like Appetite and Illusions won’t get it this time. If you love Chinese Democracy, add a mark to my score. If you hate it, subtract one or two based on your level of venom.