REVIEW: Queensryche – Q2k (Expanded edition)

Q2K FRONT

QUEENSRYCHE – Q2k (1999, 2006 expanded edition, Atlantic/Rhino)

Disclaimer: I am in a very small minority of fans who love the Q2k album. Most don’t. Many consider it a continuation of the “grungy” sounds of Hear In The Now Frontier, but weaker. That’s not my point of view, so be forewarned. Read on.

Chris DeGarmo’s departure after Hear In The Now Frontier shattered the group, but they decided to soldier on with old friend Kelly Gray (ex-Geoff Tate’s old band Myth, producer of Dokken, Candlebox, Bob Rivers etc.). Gray was a strong writer, but had a completely different style from the melodic DeGarmo. Gray’s sound is more based in heavy riffing, groove, and lots of wah-wah solos. It’s a different Queensryche and change was exactly what this band needed after the terrible Hear In The Now.

Sure, the album title sucks. I wonder if they regret it now? I’m sure they must.  Thankfully, the music inside doesn’t suck. Heavy, grooving, riffy, powerful, well recorded…I love this album. The only flaw, and the only reason this doesn’t get five stars from me, is that there is a certain sameness to the songs. Almost all have a similar groove. Yet all are catchy and enjoyable. Truly this is Queenryche at their most “rock” and rock it does!

This remastered edition, like all previous Queensryche remasters, contains liner notes by Geoff Tate and bonus tracks. The liner notes reveal the strife that the band had experienced at the time, largely due to the change in guitar players. Clearly this was not a happy time for the band but the music is only stronger for it. The bonus tracks are cool, my favourite of them being the ballad “Until There Was You”. I was always quite pleased to finally get the live version of “Sacred Ground”, originally only on the Japanese version.

Q2K INNER

Fave songs:

  • “Falling Down” – tribal thumping opens this groovy riff rocker
  • “Sacred Ground” – a droney riff that somehow works within the Queensryche context
  • “Liquid Sky” – a little more old-school on the riff, but with that same groove
  • “Breakdown” – sounds a bit too much like “Falling Down”, but is no less powerful
  • “Burning Man” – the faster side of Queensryche, furious drumming from Rockenfield, simply awesome
  • “Wot Kinda Man” – the first of the dumb Tate titles conceals a wah-wah infested rocker
  • “The Right Side Of My Mind” – the most proggy and the most old-school ‘Ryche

Bad lyrical moment: “Like electrical shock-waves in the sky.” Yikes!

Dull song:  “When The Rain Comes”.  It’s not a terrible song, just a bit too slow without building into anything memorable.

I mentioned the bonus tracks.  “Howl” is the first song, very similar to the heavier rocking songs on Q2k.  You can see why it was left off initially, as the album is already loaded with songs like this.  “Howl” is just slightly inferior in terms of melody and heaviness.  “Until There Was You” is a much better song, and I think it should have been on the album.  Indeed, the band chose this song for their anthology, Sign of the Times.  It’s a ballad with a great chorus, memorable and strong.

“Sacred Ground”, as mentioned, was the live Japanese bonus track.  This is not the same version as the one on Live Evolution, this is an earlier recording.  Collectors will be happy that they don’t have to hunt down a Japanese copy.  Lastly there’s a single edit of “Breakdown”, chopping a minute out of the song.  I wasn’t too fussed to have this one, because I already own all three promo singles from this album, from my record store days.  I was given free copies of “Breakdown”, “Falling Down”, and “The Right Side of My Mind”.  (There was no edit version of “Falling Down”, but the edit version of “Right Side” is missing from this expanded edition.  I was actually given two sets of these, but I sold the other set.)

I’m quite fond of Q2k, and I can honestly say that I haven’t liked any of the albums since then quite as much, not even Mindcrime II which should have been a slam-dunk winner. I do hope that the new Queensryche (with La Torre) will return them to the rocking glory years.

4/5 stars

More Queensryche:

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part I

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part II

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part III

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part IV

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12 comments

  1. You are a man of your word, Mike! You promised the “Q2K” review, and you delivered! Now, I gotta go through my Banker’s Boxes and find that “Sign Of The Times” anthology to get that “Until There Was You”. I seem to remember that anthology was a two-disc edition in a digi-pack. Not sure, for a minute, Queensryche was throwing out anthologies right and left, not quite at an Aerosmith clip, but nonetheless…!

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    1. Yes, totally. There was a greatest hits, and live albums, and so on, all within a short span.

      Sigh of the Times is the two CD anthology, but I think you could also get it as a single disc. It also had a brand new song on it called “Justified” written and recorded with DeGarmo.

      I wish DeGarmo would rock with Ryche again.

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  2. I agree with you that Q2K is a great album. Alot of people shrugged it off but I liked it right from the start. Great songs all the way through and a huge improvement in production quality over Hear In The Now Frontier. The album cover is great, too. I was unaware of Kelly Gray but I was pleased with his song writing and recording prowess. He really fit, I thought. QR’s subsequent album, Tribe, suffered from his absence. He still works with the band to this day, though not as guitarist.

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    1. Yeah I believe Kelly will continue to be involved with Geoff Tate’s solo career now that the name case has been settled. I think on Q2k the chemistry worked. I know most fans don’t agree with us though!

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  3. Yeah was also quite satisfied with this record at the time and considering what came after (at least until the new lineup and self titled) it still stands up well to other credible records such as Tribe and American Soldier (neither MCII or the terrible Dedicated To Cabaret came close). Funny thing is though while there’s nothing not to like and agree Burning Man and Right Side Of My Mind are highlights, I’d go with a very different list of favorites from the record than mike LOL.

    One Life – as slow as it is this one is a monster tune with big harmonies and think it woulda been a good album opener, there’s some nods back to the dark Promised Land here.

    When The Rain Comes – probably this fans favorite from the album, the tune is a beautiful mix of Wilton and Tate both in fine form, quite possibly the best ballad from the band this side of the Empire record (not including the wonderful Open Road featured on the self titled).

    Beside You is likewise, a tasty ballad that holds its own, in fact the bonus tune mike mentions above, Until There Was You was IMO far inferior particularly lyrically and glad it got shelved for both When The Rain and Beside You.

    And also think How Could I was very cool. Hard to explain this one but the vocal melody used by Tate was wonderful (not to mention his tone, while he held back on range about this time the 2000 era Tate could still deliver). Weird tune to peg but its slightly off kilter approach managed to see it break away from the norm.

    Overall thought this a magnificent return from a band that very nearly called it a day, and while appreciate their reasons for then continuing on without Gray (see the remasters liner notes) thought it a shame we didn’t get another release from that lineup until some years later when the whole shebang went south. Had they done so or kept DeGarmo on board after Tribe (even if only in a studio/recording roll), reckon Queensryche may have maintained a healthier output and quality control.

    Maybe…

    An underrated album.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Wardy thanks again for stopping by! Lots of great comments here.

      Dedicated to Cabaret! I chuckled at that. Thank God they got rid of Tate after that. He really drove them into the ground at the end, didn’t he? Crap album, and then the freaking Cabaret? I saw videos of it and just thought to myself, “They are now a parody.” I had given up on them for a long time.

      I hope the next album they’re working on with La Torre has some growth to it. I accepted the last album for what it was, a re-establishing of their metal side. But now it’s time to get progressive again!

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