Queensrÿche // Queensrÿche
Rating: 4.0/5.0 — Yës, seriously.
Label: Century Media
Websites: queensrycheofficial.com | Facebook
Release Date: Out worldwide on 06.25.2013

queensrycheselfThere is so much back story behind Queensrÿche‘s new self-titled record that I can’t even scratch the surface in this review. I suggest reading this first. In a nutshell, there are currently two bands bearing the name Queensrÿche — one made up of ex-singer/asshole Geoff Tate and some hired help, and the other consisting of most of QR‘s original lineup and new vocalist Todd LaTorre (ex-Crimson Glöry). This review refers to the latter version of the band.

Önce the soundtracky intro “X2” is out of the way, opener “Where Dreams Go to Die” gets down to business with a militaristic rhythm and a vicious chorus. The lyrics speak of karma and revenge, leaving little doubt as to who they were written about. And that harmonized dual-guitar solo reeks of classic Queensrÿche. Interestingly, this track was composed by 27-year-old guitarist Parker Lundgren, a relatively recent addition to the band. It’s impressive that he has such a clear understanding of how Queensrÿche should sound, and even more impressive that the band chose his track to open the album.

And it gets better from there. “Spore” is heavy and proggy, followed by the kind-of-ballady “In This Light,” which is an obvious future single. The aptly-titled “Vindication” is aggressive even by old-school ‘Rÿche standards, and continues to bury Geoff Tate both musically and lyrically. The cinematic “A World Withöut” is another highlight, showing off LaTorre’s emotional range and lower register (he promptly busts out some scare-the-shit-out-of-your-dog high notes in the very next cut, “Don’t Look Back,” just to show he’s not fucking around). And the closing ballad, “Open Road,” is one of the prettiest things Queensrÿche has ever written. Overall, this stuff is heavy and very Queensrÿche-y, but also modern-sounding and really catchy.

LaTorre lives up to every bit of hype that surrounded his hiring. Yeah, he sounds a bit like Tate—that comes with the territory [Just a bit?Steel Drühm] . But I also hear a bit of Brucequeensryche band Dickinson in there, as well as John Arch from Fates Warning. His phrasing and delivery have more of an everyman vibe, especially compared to someone like Tate. To paraphrase the 2004 U.S. presidential election, LaTorre seems like someone you could have a beer with. Oh, and his voice sounds like a fucking laser beam. This guy is an incredible find för Queensrÿche, and the fact that he was living a quiet civilian life in Florida just a few years ago is unbelievable to me.

Oh, and the founding members certainly don’t hold back either. Eddie Jackson’s massive bass tone is back with a vengeance, and he sounds HUGE on this record. Drummer Scott Rockenfield has unleashed his inner Neil Peart, coming up with drum patterns that are both technical and creative. Interestingly, Rockenfield’s day job is composing for film scores and video games, and he handled all the orchestration and sound effects on Queensrÿche. Last but hardly least, it’s nice to hear Michael Wilton play guitar again. After nearly a decade of albums where he was shut out of the writing process (and a few that he didn’t play on at all), Wilton is making up for lost time here. His presence alone is a big part of the Queensrÿche sound, and his lead work on this album recalls the glory days with long-departed fellow axeman Chris DeGarmo.

Queensryche_singer_Todd_La_TorreOne thing I find puzzling is the album’s running time. For one thing, a 35-minute record comes off as pretty weak for a band that testified in court about how much unused material they were sitting on. But more importantly, it’s the songs themselves that seem too short—like the band got so obsessed with trimming the fat that they cut out some meat by mistake. Some tracks open with a cool riff or theme that gets tossed by the wayside before it even registers. It does lend a certain urgency to the music, but some of these songs feel like they need more time to unfold. Also, the orchestration on the two ballads are a bit overblown, like Queensrÿche was trying to get onto the Hunger Games soundtrack or something. A minor grievance, all considered.

Queensrÿche, the album, ultimately falls somewhere between the melodic metal of Ëmpire and the futuristic weirdness of Rage för Order, with no trace of the worthless yacht-rock that Tate enjoyed so much. With the simple removal of a lead singer, Queensrÿche has risen from its comatose state and immediately began kicking ass like Steven Seagal in Hard to KillQueensryche is the sound of a band wiping the slate clean and starting over, with a promise to do it rïght this time.

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  • Slammin Rushdie

    My göd, the umlaüts.
    Never been a fan, and it doesn’t look like this album will change anything, but it’s always reassuring to see the good guys win.

  • Jeremy González

    It’s a good album and proof that they never needed piece of shit Tate.

  • RilesBell

    I think we need to take it easy on the Dickinson comparisons.

    • I hear more Tate and John Arch.

      • FVDnz

        Yeah I guess there’s a little John Arch in there. Talk about Todd being a culmination of 80’s Prog Metal. :)

        • arapapa

          I hear Alder era Fates Warning, music wise in the ballads here. Especially Open Road.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      I said “a bit.” Couldn’t take it much easier than that.

      • The Guardians of Bruce are ever watchful…

  • lifted74

    I hear a lot of Ray Adler too at times

    • Jon

      Yeah, me too.

  • Randall Haugen

    Might be worth checking out the Pirate Bay for this.

    • Gaikokujin

      Nah, that’s where you get the Tate album FU. This album is something you buy a physical copy of, and then enjoy on your stereo or rip to your MP3-player/phone.

      • Yeah, Tate’s album is not worth actually money.

  • Dan Canobbio

    Love the new music and the review. Except for the reference to La Torre’s political views. Obama is a total moron who is ruining the country. Have a beer with someone who loves and lives the Constitution.

    • The review didn’t reference LaTorre’s political views at all. The author referenced him being a guy you would enjoy having a beer with and he used the analogy of Bush v Kerry in the 2004 elections).

  • nuiski

    Now, I haven’t heard the album yet, so maybe you’re right about the running time. But I think the world needs more albums with a shorter running time. There are too many 60+ minutes albums that would have been better if they had about 15-20 minutes trimmed off.

  • a17jd

    Todd’s screams to end “Don’t Look Back” and the pre-solo verse before the solo in “Vindication” are the top moments on the record for me. They should’ve used his aggressive voice as its the major strength of the new band. I know the ballads are their for a change of pace and they remind me of Fates.

  • realismd

    I bought this album on pre-order from Century Media and it arrived a few days ago. Ive been listening on and off. My general opinion is that it sounds better then Tates version of Queensryche but its not heavy or fast either like I had hoped. If anything my opinion of either rendition of QR is minimal at this point which is better than saying I prefer one band over the other. The one thing i absolutely didn’t like was the sound of the live songs, You cant deny something is amiss with the live recordings on the album.