Recent years has seen quite some drama surrounding the Queensryche camp. Focussing more on legal fights then on music, which is quite a shame for a band with such a remarkable history and discography. Gladly things have been sorted out and the instrumentalists get to carry on with the band and its name.
So, with this being the first time I hear the band with new boy Todd la Torre, I was wondering how the band would sound. Well first things first, La Torre actually has an uncanny resemblance to a young and powerful Geoff Tate. I mean, with eyes closed it is only in the details you hear the difference! So the good part is, this sounds familiar on first run through. In fact, it made me wonder why Tate had such a large impact on the songs on the previous output, as all members are clearly capable writers.
Even if this is a very short album for modern standards (11 songs in 35 minutes with 2 being interludes of around the minute) it sounds like vintage Queensryche and the band sound prolific as ever. Gives great confidence for more classic material in the future. So now I just have to dig up the album where Tate is still calling the shots and hear what he has come up with. If that is on par, we all just win in the end 🙂
Ever since the release of the Operation Mindcrime and Empire albums, every release of Queensryche has been compared against those milestones in rock. Some of those could compete, others were competent alright, but not of the same high calibre.
To me, this is another one that stands on it´s own feet. The band sound very inspired, maybe due to the chosen theme: war from the soldier´s point of view. Many songs are spiced with army men telling parts of their story. All the conducted interviews were used when writing the meaningful lyrics. No matter what we think about the war industry, it is good we are reminded that soldiers are human beings as well. I could have done with a little less sound clips. But on the other hand, it creates an authenticity that sits well with the album.
Queensryche still operate in the progressive metal field. So no experiments there. Geoff Tate sings as we like him to, and all Queensryche trademarks are there. Get it.
With Queensryche it is very tempting to take a closer look at Operation: Mindcrime or Empire. As those are the albums that propelled them into stardom.
But being the pigheaded guy that I am, I took this album out of the closet. First because I very much like the almost “science fiction” like production on it. Very modern for the time and a one off for the band. Second it is because I feel this album perfectly hints at the potential of the band. And last but not least it is because of the songs.
Things get started with Walk In The Shadows, which makes clear in which direction the band is developing. Compare this to their breakthrough albums! Next track I Dream In Infra Red, is one of those songs that slowly dawn on you and sink their teeth into your system. the clean guitar parts here would be revisited later a lot sound wise.
The Whisper is one of those eerie spooky tracks that you never get tired of. Brilliant riffs and backing vocals. Their version of Lisa Dalbello’s I´m Gonna Get Close To You is worth the price of this album on it’s own. How evil, how daring for a metal band.
And be assured, the album goes on with songs on par and thus stays the testament of a band on it’s way to it’s creative and commercial peak! As essential as their big sellers. Or is it just me?