The leaks came just weeks after frontman Axl Rose ended his hermit-like lifestyle by venturing out to a Korn tour launch party in Los Angeles and to trendy nightclubs for some post-birthday bashes (his 44th) in Manhattan.
Asked at the Korn bash about "Chinese Democracy," which has been in the making for a decade, Rose told Rolling Stone.com that "people will hear music this year."
The tracks leaked Wednesday take a different direction from Rose's traditional raunchy Sunset Strip-style rock. "Better" has emo/industrial touches mixed with Rose's trademark vocals and hard rock backdrop. "There Was A Time" is a rough studio mix of a power ballad with similarities to GNR's classic "Estranged." "IRS" is closer to the sound of yesteryear, with powerful guitar solos and classic rock flavor.
Rose's manager, Merck Mercuriadis, ordered the Internet sites to remove the links, but declined to comment on them. Fans also sent one of the leaked tracks to radio stations. Mercuriadis said cease-and-desist orders were sent to the stations, but some, such as WAAF in Boston, still had "IRS" in heavy rotation Monday night.
News also surfaced Monday that several music festivals, such as the Rock in Rio-Lisboa and the NovaRock festival in Austria, had booked the band to play in May and June, respectively.
Lisa Reed, wife of keyboard player Dizzy Reed, said on her husband's web site that "all signs point to (the album) getting closer and closer," and she pleaded with fans not to leak the rest of the album.
"It's like shaking all your Christmas presents on the 23rd of December," she wrote, "and figuring out what they are."