Against seemingly impossible odds, Queensrÿche roared back from the adult-contemporary abyss two years ago with their self-titled album. The band had parted ways acrimoniously with vocalist Geoff Tate, replacing him with newcomer Todd LaTörre (Crimson Glory) and reconnecting to their prog and metal roots. The resulting album was shockingly good, proving that the band could indeed survive without their former frontman. Now that that’s been settled, the band’s 2nd act continues with Condition Hüman.

Right from the start, it seems like the band is trying to remind the world that they are, first and foremost, a metal band. “Arrow Of Time” is not a particularly great leadoff track or even a great Queensrÿche song, but its uptempo Iron Maiden-isms and guitar harmonies show where the band’s allegiances lie. The next track, “Guardian,” continues in that vein, with classic metal riffage and a rallying chorus that LaTorre delivers with laser-guided force. “Toxic Remedy” is the type of track that only Queensrÿche could pull off, rooted in classic metal and prog while also having something unmistakably Seattle about it. “Selfish Lives” is another favorite, with LaTörre spinning some vaguely political lyrics atop an Empire-era groove, leading into a a soulful, memorable chorus and a midsection that nods to Rage For Order‘s gothic tendencies. “Eye9” starts off with a Tool-esque bass and vocal scenario, before going full-on power metal on the chorus.

Queensryche Human Condition 03The album closes with the 8-minute title track, a multi-sectioned epic that’s easily the most ambitious thing the band has done in 20-plus years. Think “Suite Sister Mary” meets “Promised Land,” with a touch of latter-day Savatage for good measure. The band has truly gone all-out on this album, making the QR 2013 record feel like a glorified demo by comparison.

Despite Condition Hüman being only the 2nd record of his career, Todd LaTörre sounds incredibly powerful and supremely confident. While he was justifiably accused of being a Geoff Tate clone previously, on Hüman he sounds like a fully-realized blend of influences, with Tate being merely one of them. He navigates a far wider range of vocal styles than he did previously (his sotto voce on the Celtic-flavored “Just Us” was a nice surprise). Founding axeman Michael Wilton seems to have formed a formidable guitar duo with relative newcomer Parker Lundgren, each adding color to the other’s rhythm playing and occasionally joining forces for some sweet harmonized leads.

New producer Chris “Zeuss” Harris (HatebreedCrowbar) seems to have encouraged the band’s prog tendencies, but his sonic style somewhat overwhelms that of the band. His mix sands the rough edges off of Ed Jackson’s signature bass growl, and while drummer Scott Rockenfield’s style is unmistakable, his drums themselves seem to have been replaced with the same samples that are on countless other modern metal albums. The result is certainly easier on the ears than QR 2013′s harsh mix, but it’s also disappointing to hear the band’s sound framed in such a generic way.

queensryche-2015

The songs on Condition Hüman are generally longer and more expansive than the material on QR 2013, which felt hastily put together at times. The upside to this is that the new lineup finally breaks out of the verse-chorus-verse structure they’ve grown used to, and delivers some of the most creative, progressive music they’ve made in many years. On the other hand, many of these songs take repeated listening to truly sink in, making it more of a “grower” than the immediately hooky material on the last record. And yes, there’s occasionally an ill-fitting riff or an awkward transition, and maybe a song or two that could be considered filler. Considering that present-day Queensrÿche is essentially a new band, and are still learning to write music together, that’s all part of the learning curve.

Overall, Condition Hüman is a very solid effort, and proves once and for all that Queensrÿche can come up with good material despite losing its two most prominent members. It may lack the element of surprise that QR 2013 had, but more than makes up for it with increased confidence and creativity. LaTörre is clearly a galvanizing force for Queensrÿche, despite being the new guy, and you can hear the band solidifying their writing and sound around his voice. For anyone that misses “classic” Queensrÿche, or just enjoys proggy, heavy rock music, I encourage you to give Condition Hüman a shot.


Rating: 4.0/5.01
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media
Websites: queensrycheofficial.com | facebook/queensryche
Releases Worldwide: October 2nd, 2015

Show 1 footnote

  1.  Yes, this is the same score I gave Queensÿche two years ago. I may have been slightly too generous back then, probably because I was in shock that the album was any good at all. Condition Hüman is easily the better record of the two.

Share →
  • Kronos

    Take that, Tate!

    • sir_c

      Actually, that would have been the perfect band for him to join…

      • sickbroski

        Queensrÿche certainly don’t want him back for good.

    • Osama Bhatti

      FU! (get it?)

    • Requiem

      Petition for Geoff Tate’s new nickname to be Geoff Taint.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    The cover reminded me of this book cover. What’s everyone reaching for?

    • [not a Dr]

      umlauts? copyrights?

  • KingKuranes

    If I had just heard this with no backstory I’d assume that Tate was actually singing on it.

    • RDGEEK

      It really is uncanny, isn’t it?

    • Nagash

      That was my immediate thought too. Hi’s vocal is really close to Tate’s.

    • pfreak

      Not if you’ve heard Tate sing in the last 20 years you wouldn’t.

    • Pedro Ordonez

      Holy cow yes! It sounds more QR than Tate’s version!

  • Pimpolho

    Ümläüts!

  • brutal_sushi

    Its great to see a band that made you fall in love with music, who feel from grace, rise from the ashes. This album is god damn great.

    • Eel Wiz

      Yeah, a stunt ,I thought, not possible. Metallica, that’s how to recover.

      • Pedro Ordonez

        Yes! Fire Lars and James and make a good album, hahahaha

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Tate falls from the nest
    Down burns the tree and its voices
    From ash strong new life.

    • Chris Latta

      Kings and Thieves was bad
      Frequency Unknown was worse
      It’s the way I roll

      • Grymm

        Thankfully Tate-less,
        Not one mention of these words…
        “Exercise machine”.

        • Chris Latta

          Operation: Mindcrime
          Is an album, not a band
          Go fuck yourself, Tate.

  • Iliast

    Need more bitcoin.

  • “Yes, this is the same score I gave Queensÿche two years ago.”

    Not sure whether this is wordplay or a typo…

    • Dr_Fisting

      The album they made two years ago was called “Queensryche.” It’s weird to work it into a sentence.

      • Kronos

        I think they’e efeing to today’s sponso, the lette

        • Grymm

          This has me cacking up on the bus. Vey cleve wodplay.

          • Kronos

            I ty.

          • Hulksteraus

            Nope, I seem to remember the good doctor also reviewed the new Queensyche self titled album 2 years ago as well. Gave it a good score as well. They are a slam metal band from London, very energetic, thought you would have heard of them Kronos…

    • tryin2ffn

      I didn’t think it was too bad. It did sound like it lacked energy in certain places and fair amount of the songs sound like Parallels/Inside Out-era Fates Warning but a little heavier. Best tracks are “Hourglass” and “Just Us” is second. The epic Condition Human doesn’t feel epic at all. Just blah and its done. This reminds of Dream Theater when they amazed everyone in 2011 with the first new album of that then-fresh version of the lineup and then went back to boring paint by numbers approach on the 2013 self titled album that was used on every album from the past decade with Portnoy.

  • Antorus

    That embedded track is so good! There isn’t a stream for this, is there?

  • I am so glad I pledged. No promo love though.

  • Wilhelm

    I didn’t like Arrow of Time too much but the other two tracks were good stuff. I’m so glad that Tate is gone, what a fucking mess that was.

  • Oberon

    So far Arrow of Light harkens back to my youth, of first hearing Gamma Ray and Helloween.

  • Wow, this embedded track sounds good. I don’t know that this album could ever make my top 10 of the year, but it could definitely be in the running for an ‘ish’ ranking, and quite possibly “Biggest Surprise of 2015”.

    • Christian McGuire

      It’s in my top five, and I expected it to be the moment it was announced.

  • Stefunal

    “Proving that the band could indeed survive without their former frontman.”
    Funny, I always thought the sole way to survive for them was to ditch that guy.

    • sickbroski

      You can’t handle his hot’n trashy approach to genitalia worship.

  • Tentacles

    That embedded track is really infectious. I be checking this one out for sure!

    Also…

    ÜMLÄÜTS!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Jezus thats some bad art but a good tune..
    Im very interested to hear this though you’ve given it ‘great’ but described it as solid…Is the hardened shell of Dr fisting finally cracking?

    • sickbroski

      The same image done in a vintage Savatage art style would be awesome.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        yeah….maybe…

    • Dr_Fisting

      It is both solid and great.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I’ll take that as a no then…
        I’ll definitely check this out on release

    • Chris Timbó

      You’re right. From the first time I saw, I thought: Well, that’s a crappy cover. Good it wasn’t an indicative of the contents of the album … :-)

  • ronin1572

    Love the direction this band has taken. Hopefully they can keep it up.

  • sickbroski

    Well, you weren’t kidding about the clean modern metal production.

  • buttsguy

    i was talking with someone about queensryche and they said they’re pretty much dead without the tate. guess this album proves them fuckers wrong, though.

  • De2013

    Really that good? Wow … distracted by all the Tate drama and all I’m surprised by this. I have liked them in the early days, but was always still a bit hesitant to check out the new incarnation of the band. This review will make me check them out again. Thanks Dr.

  • Robinguymn

    Tate couldn’t sing this new material if he wanted to. Todd is a way more aggressive singer.

    • RicoSuaveGuapo

      Definitely. A lot of people have dismissed him as a clone of Tate, but if you listen to them back to back (even on the classic material), the differences are very apparent. On the new album he distances himself from Tate even further… On “Hellfire” for example, He sounds much more Halford or Midnight than Tate.

  • You wot m8?

    I’m not usually a fan of this vocal style, but the chorus in the embedded track was one of the most badass things I’ve heard in a long time.

  • Minty_Fishbowl

    I’m so glad to see a once incredible band begin to pick themselves up and brush the dust off. I’m not expecting a Mindcrime-tier masterpiece in the near future, but the 2013 self-titled album was such a surprising breath of fresh air, and it’s good to hear this album is continuing them down the right path.

  • I would like to know the opinion on this record of my estimated old friend @jayalanbadfail:disqus

    • Pedro Ordonez

      and my esteemed friend Geoff Tate?

  • Sadistikexekution

    I’m very stoked for this album.
    Todd should be nicknamed Lazarus, for he resurrected Queensryche.

    And FU Tate, the Key is another stinker, a key to the toilet… ov HELL!

  • ghost whistler

    2nd record of his career? I thought he’d worked with Crimson Glory?

    • Dr_Fisting

      He did, but never did a record with them. CG has not made a full-length album since the ’90s.

  • Patrick Thomas Fallon

    I saw these guys in a fire hall this past summer, that should have been a sign …. worst concert I ever saw , left early horrible I’m done …

    • Aaron Joley

      Well, bye.

  • Dan

    I am so glad to hear this. I really liked the last record and was really looking forward to this showing up on Friday. Now I can rest easy, sounds like it’ll be good stuff!

  • Mason Leightle

    just downloaded it on ITunes, lord it’s good….really a surprise, even Condition Human, the song, caught me off guard the 1st listen, then 2nd time around your like, wow…good albums songs often do this. There is one track on this I could have done without. 11/12 is pretty good. Some surprises, Just Us, Eye 9(bass player, go figure) . Queensryche fans won’t be disappointed..

  • 2018

    Contrary to what someone said below its sold 10,900 in the first week. Slightly lower but to be expected at this rate. Not too much of a bad dropoff.

  • jkbaca41

    Actually, the official word is that it sold 13,800 the first week (about the same as the last one….. So they didn’t lose any fans) and debuted at #27.

    and the new Iron Maiden (5,450) and Ghost (1,975) albums are still selling strong

  • chris

    Wow. This is amazingly good.
    Who would have thought.

  • RandyLatorre

    My one bone to pick with this album is the mapping of the guitar solos. The previous album had few long and intricate solos but matched the dual soloing of stuff like NM156. Here Parker Lundgren is just wanking all over the place playing super fast, jacking off trying to out do Wilton on Hellfire and Guardian. Wilton himself solos simple but also emotive and effective. The second solo in Guardian is a key suspect like the solo in I Dream in Infrared or Revolution Calling. It starts out aggressive but he never really finishes. It just cuts off. The solo on the closing title track isn’t so bad but kind of sudden and out of place. Like it was an afterhought almost. The solo on Selfish Lives is very slow and predictable like it came from a Motley Crue or Guns N’ Roses album. Wilton sounds like Slash here with a slow but building solo that gets bluesy. You don’t really notice but it really adds flair to the song. The solo on Toxic Remedy is by far the most in your face and confident sounding guitar solo compared to every other song on the album. The super fast dual soloing on All There Was is like Needle Lies and no doubt suggested by Lundgren with the over the top wankery. Its jawdropping at first but gets old real fast. Wilton’s electric solo on Just Us reminds me of Rhythm of Hope from Tribe or Chris DeGarmo’s slide soloing on Waiting for 22 or Hear In the Now Frontier, Voice Inside is a specific example.

  • DarthhVegass

    Definitely album of the year now and maybe next year too. The new Dream Theater is just asking be to be an old school prawg oogle fest. Espiritu Muerto should be played live. A lot heavier and belongs on the first side of the album after Toxic Remedy and Selfish Lives.

  • Tofu muncher

    got me the album and loving it. I loved Crimson Glory, too.