Queensrÿche - Queensrÿche

Queensrÿche cover
Century Media
Grande Rock always in the forefront of metal news coverage has again managed to bring you quite an exclusive. I am the dude that did “the first review” of Dio’s “Master of The Moon” and the “third” one for “Angel of Retribution” by Judas Priest. Now thanks to a good friend from the east coast, I am in the “fortunate” position to be able to bring to you an early preview of the new and rather doltishly also eponymous full length album that is sure to confuse some people or at least, a few stocklist guys that might try to order it, since they’ll also be seeing the “also self-titled EP”!
Really, as if two Queensryche’s until the end of the year weren’t enough, now we’ll also have to live with two S/T releases too, till the end of time. (Thank god we can still refer to them as the EP and the LP I guess, albeit the LP is very short one at only 35 minutes.)
But let’s quit bitching and start preaching, making points about the whole “‘RYCHE soap opera” along the way…
The Eponymous album begins with “X2” which is an atmospheric intro with various mechanical noises, that sets the scene for the first album ever in Queensryche’s long history without their “golden voice”! It seamlessly segues into…
“Where Dreams Go to Die” a fairly modern tune apparently the brainchild of Parker Lundgren, “the guy who was so smooth, as to put out picks that were advertising the fact that he was married to the former singer’s daughter and he was being intimate with her” (hilarious – we wouldn’t have guessed!). At any rate the song, which lyrically is trying to replicate the intellectually challenging and socially aware themes of past songs, through poetic license, musically is rather boring with a rather repetitive but quite catchy chorus. (The teaser version – sounded far more dynamic, really!) It hardly constitutes a return to the band’s roots. Another thing that’s really rather annoying is the lack of the dynamics. The drums for instance  sound very “tinny” but at least they sound good overall and the overall ambience is too flat and “lifeless”. Is this really the work of “Jimbo”? Were the band afforded enough money for the production of this? Somehow, I remain unconvinced - that this is the best that they could come up with! It sounds “too dried up” and with most life “sucked out of it”.
“Spore” has I suppose elements of post “Operation” ‘Ryche, drawing inspiration from albums such as “Promised Land” as well as “Tribe” and up to a point “Q2k”... to a lesser extent. It initially begins with an eastern flavored riff, that reiterates, later on, and has a certain charm I guess, but it’s not the song that will decidedly tip the album one way or the other.
“In this Light” has a certain air “that’s very reminiscent of “Hear in the Now Frontier” but a chorus that’s a lot catchier than ANYTHING that was ever included originally on that album. Only “Chasing Blue Sky” that was later included as a bonus on the re-master (I can’t really imagine why they left such a tremendous song out of the albums original running order!). If it weren’t for it, it would have been a terrible piece of alternative pop crap, but this little hook, saves them, from total humiliation. It’s a decent pop rocker. (Again the teaser/had this sounding a lot – harder! If I recall?)
“Redemption” is the first “single”! I totally “hated” it at first, but it then sort of “grew” a little on me. Todd “screams” - “Cool”! Possibly, Tate, cannot hit those notes these days! (Maybe – maybe not ?!). But that’s beside the point... ! Todd’s using “pitch slides” on auto-tune throughout the song – which is fake. The guy’s got a respectable range and the effect produced, simple sounds “sucky” as it results in a “silly” sounding sliding note in between the notes he sings, which for me ruins the song almost entirely. Again, the “leaked” demo sounded OK, but plain, with boring drums. Too much repetition, it’s 3 times, the same “motif”, a cool idea, with a bridge-chorus, that never really breaks into a well-defined “Chorus” like all the HUGE, BONA FIDE HITS of QUEENSRYCHE, or any band had.
You might think its OK, but it’s not SUPER. Let me break the news to you. If you think that you can get away with songs like this because it’s 2013 and because, you can’t expect a band like Queensryche to produce a new “Queen of the Ryche” in 2013 then I rest my case,  but on the other hand, I expect a band to do the BEST THEY CAN (oops – pun intended) and well, I felt that “The Real Q” (a title that I started really hating “THIS” incarnation of the band – when they started assuming it, could have done a lot better than “THIS” for a “single”. (neither these guys or Tate’s Queensryche for me - are the REAL Queensryche, for the record... the real Queensryche, well, flip over Rage for order and take a look at the picture - yup - that’s THEM!)
“Vindication” begins in a very hard hitting way, that’s very reminiscent of “Operation:Mindcrime”, and had me expecting quite an amazing song as Rockenfeld and Wilton are franticly at it, on their respective instruments… for the first minute or so... but suddenly around the first minute there’s a very anti-climactic “change” a very “happy” portion that contrasts badly with the very agonizing rise that precedes it. There a decent bridge afterwards – but the damage is done I suppose. Then the same motif is repeated (SURPRISE – SURPRISE!). Repetition is big on this album…!
“Midnight Lullaby” is a sick intro, (that however takes up an entire song ID) with some footsteps and a baby crying (?!) again leading to....
“A World Without”… (What?) This is a quite dramatic and haunting song that one would have half expected from a band like “Crimson Glory” rather than Queensryche, in which one can hear the newly installed singer Todd LaTorre, calling out to his loved ones, as he longs for them to answer his pleas. It’s hard to understand if it’s a song about a person who has passed on, or something along these lines or if it’s something more allegorical, like breaking out of a relationship or something similar... I suppose, I’d need to sit down and really pay attention to the lyrics, but right now, I’m really, trying to finish writing up this review, while being only afforded a single listen so... I know for a fact that everyone involved in the making of this album but not only has suffered some sort of loss...(someone even lost a “friend”...)
“Don’t Look Back” is a rather quick paced track, that is not quite bad, all things considered, but on the other hand doesn’t quite manage to avoid being labeled as a minor “filler" either. The solo might be the best thing going on for it, possibly courtesy of Whip... Also there’s a very “Tate-esque” moment, when Todd bellows “This is the law of attraction”… in a semi-spoken way… ah the “imi-TATE-ion”...
“Fallout” is another rocking song that goes through several phases and the band recently aired it, at the Rock Hard festival in Germany – from were a bad Youtube performance clip might be found (where you can’t really make a lot out from anyway other than get a general idea). It’s got a decent build and nice verses and an OK chorus, but again it’s not “THE KILLER SONG” that would seal the deal, it’s a fairly decent song, if you will.
“Open Road” is the final song on the album, reminiscent of “Empire”/”Promised Land” era times and it kind of attempts to replicate “Silent Lucidity” while maintaining a rather higher tempo, thus resulting in a weird, quasi “power-ballad” that sort of works… nicely, but, Todd’s reaching his limits on this one and thus is struggling a bit on the top notes, which is rather noticeable on certain passagios.
Overall, the “so called real” Queensryche, (or the other Queensryche) if you will, the one not featuring original vocalist Geoff Tate, but featuring 3 other original members instead, has managed to put out a fairly good album, considering the pivotal singer replacement that has just taken place!
Regarding the overall quality of the album, while there ain't any horrible songs, there aren’t any bona fide singles either. I’d dare to say it’s on par with something like “OM2”, a rather decent release, with good songs that have some pretty good ideas but usually tend to have something that “manages to ruin them”. “Redemption” has the vocal slides that, funk it up for me, “Vindication”, the “happy” break and so on... After a series of what would be considered to be “bad” albums, well this is certainly a somewhat “better album” but… it’s not a true return to form, or a return to the roots as advertised, as they did try to diversify and keep things “current” and fresh too, which ain’t bad, but has ended up in creating a rather bizarre hybrid. I am sure repeated listens will make the album “sit better” as the songs seemed to have little hooks that would “grow”, but again if I would have to make the possibly unnecessary but obligatory subconscious comparison with what GT, did as of late, I’d say, them boys didn’t do so much better, than they would have wanted. OK, maybe a little better, production wise, and Whip is wipping out much better guitar riffs and solos, that are QR – “trademarks” but on the other hand, when GT opens his mouth, he is Geoff Tate, he doesn’t have to try and sound emotional,  he just oozes emotion as he delivers – even unconditioned – the mark of A HUGE SINGER/ARTIST – and ultimately the above comparison doesn’t prove – jack$hit – as there was a strong rumor that there was a missing “post Empire” album that was never used and who knows if any of that has “surfaced” here... ala Van Halen. They have released a very “safe” sounding album, which will probably help them, regain some fans and re-establish themselves a bit. But I can’t help to feel like this is a bit of an anomaly?! If only a sweet anomaly.

This is an album THAT HAD to happen basically! Geoff Tate, performed an act of Hybris and this is the penance for his sins. Whether this will be a permanent condition remains to be seen, but as stated, this is the price he had to pay, for certain things he did. He thought he could do as he wished - he thought no one would rebel against him and everyone would put up with any capricious or Parisiene demand that he might have had and well it didn’t pan out that way. Obviously GT brought this on himself. For years the “golden man”, didn’t give a “$HIT” sipped on his Insania, didn’t care much about his voice, and so the shows did suffer, then in about 2006 he did give a shit probably for the last time, he conditioned himself and did some really good performances, for “OM2”. After that,  things quickly went downhill... or rather went cabaret... thus resulting in the rift and the story with the two Queensryche’s and the two eponymous releases and all that shenanigans… I guess GT will need to work it out with the band at some point. Make no mistake, the guy is very talented, very smart and a real artist, but obviously he has lost his focus, as did the entire band, on more that one occasions. I think both him and the band - actually, every one involved - deserve better. That is not to say that Todd is not doing a very decent “Ripper Owerns” (++), even throwing in some real songwriting abilities.
At any rate, we’ve all been biting our nails and watching this soap opera unfolding daily “on blabbermouth” and all the other trolly sites!!! Ah, the excitement! It even beats my favorite $hit-com’s! Got to love all this shit, really! It’s the salt and pepper, of a life so mundane – when economy is flushed down the toilet and your life is of little consequence anymore... in some countries… reading about grown men acting like cocks in a hen-house really makes me smile. We’ve a case similar to the Maidens and the Priests of this world and we all know how this things ended up... well there weren’t onstage “raindrops” or “offstage” punches, but there were some other “exchanges” a lot of people are not aware of, so, you never know how this could play out 5 years down the line. Todd did a rather unorthodox thing, but seems to be managing to fill some pretty big shoes – the best he can (pun intended) which is considerably well. (Maybe he could have done it better with some aid but who knows)… no one can blame the guy for fulfilling one of his childhood dreams, but, it’s AKWARD!
Just to give a final verdict on the album? Worth checking out?! YES! Worth to bear the Queensryche name logo and the Tri-ryche?! MAYBE?! Largely – YES – but not their BEST, thing ever, as they’d like you to believe... Although it would sit well beside, “Mindcrime 2” – which I consider a GOOD album, overall! Just one thing though it’s very short... anything below 40 minutes is technically/legally an EP (even with 9 songs + 2 intros) so now you’ve managed a second S/T EP boy! Hahaha! Bravisima! Now if you don’t cancel any more EU dates (I didn’t get to see them in the UK – mind ya I’m Greek), maybe we’ll get to see ya, somewhere!
PS: Since there are apparently 2 sides to this story, and allegedly 2 Queensryche’s until November at the very least, we’d urge you to also read the review for  Queensrÿche – “Frequency Unknown” to formulate a more spherical opinion about the 2 sides of this “coin” and make up your mind about this “cold war” after you’ve taken into account both our reviewer’s opinions on the albums. After all he’s one of the few people on the planet right now that has been afforded the chance to hear “BOTH” of the albums! So go ahead! READ...the word!