REVIEW: Queensrÿche – Queensrÿche (deluxe edition 2013)

QUEENSRŸCHE – Queensrÿche (2013 deluxe edition)

So after all the hubbub and commotion and he-says she-says, both Queensryches have finally released their albums.  The consensus is pretty clear:  fans prefer the original band to the original singer.  The sales figures speak for themselves.  Queensryche has more than doubled the sales numbers of Frequency Unknown, and charted in the 20’s rather than the 80’s.  The judge that will settle the case of who gets the Queensryche name in November said that the market would decide.  If that’s indeed the case, Tate can look forward to a solo career.

In the meantime Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield and Eddie Jackson carried on with Parker Lundgren and Todd La Torre, and basically did what fans have been asking:  revert to an earlier sound.

Instead of going through this album song-by-song, I thought I would try something different.  Instead I’d like to just talk about what I like and don’t like about Queensryche.  You can feel free if you disagree if you like.  Uncle Meat couldn’t bring himself to review the album.  He hated it so much he rated it 0/5 stars.  He said that the hiring of a Tate clone only makes Queensryche look like a bunch of douchebags.  His opinion was that this act alone put Tate on top, even if he did release the dreadful Frequency Unknown.  He asked me to say this on his behalf:

“This is like the winner of the Queensryche Karaoke contest.  Worst album of the year, of any genre.”

So there’s that.  I respect the criticism about the Karaoke contest.  But lemme tell you folks, even if La Torre’s Tate is uncanny, it’s also welcome to my weary ears.  I like hearing a Queensryche album where the singer is actually hitting the notes.  I’ve heard Tate fans talk about electronic processing on La Torre’s voice.  Well, that’s pretty much rooted in the 1986 Rage For Order sound.

If I had to nail Queensryche down to a specific era, it would be Warning-Rage-Empire in that order.  Not terribly original, no.  I’ll let it slide though, and for this reason:  when a band like Queensryche, who have musically been adrift at sea for a long time (barring the odd triumph like American Soldier), they need to re-ground themselves and regain the faith and trust of the fans.  Priest did something similar with their Angel of Retribution album.  Various songs sounded pretty bang-on for specific eras of the band.  And you know what?  That worked for me.  It was what I needed.  They saved the double concept album for the next record.

So, if Queensryche can progress from here, I’ll be happy and forgive them for the lack of originality.  I’ll let it slide for one album.  I’m also a little disappointed in the brief running time of 35 minutes: 9 short songs plus 2 intros.  None of the tracks are longer than 4 1/2 minutes.

QR2013 PICKI find pretty much all the songs to be of equal quality.  That is, all of them are good, some of them are better than good, none of them are poor.  I’ve waited to listen to this album 5 or 6 times before I tried to review it.  After that many listens, none of the songs are particularly jumping out at me more than others.  But none are turning me off.  All  have moments of greatness here and there, sometimes in the guitars, other times the drums, or the vocals.  La Torre is definitely stunning at times on this album.  It’s also fantasic to actually hear Scott Rockenfield playing the drums on a Queensryche album, and sounding like Scott Rockenfield.  He has a unique sound, one of his own, as does bassist Eddie Jackson.

As for the new boy Parker Lundgren?  Sure, he played on some of Dedicated to Chaos, but now you can actually hear him.  He meshes better with Michael Wilton than anybody else the band has had since Chris DeGarmo.

Which brings me to my final point.  I still miss DeGarmo.  This is nothing against Michael, Scott, Eddie, Parker or Todd.  DeGarmo had some kind of magic.  Look at all of Queensryche’s hits.  See who wrote most of them.  Queensryche absolutely miss DeGarmo, more than they do Tate.

In closing, I enjoy Queensryche a lot more than Frequency Unknown, or many albums since Promised Land.  Do I like it more than Rage?  Warning?  The EP?  No.  It’s good, no mistake, but it’s not at that level.  Whether they are capable of ever getting there again remains to be seen.  My attention is peaked; I’ll definitely check out the next album, which the band have already started writing.  In fact I’m looking forward to the next one, and hopefully the next one after that.

Oh, and the live bonus tracks absolutely smoke.

3.5/5 stars

FYI:  The Japanese edition contains an additional bonus track, which is “Eyes of a Stranger” performed live by the new lineup.  All four live tracks are taken from the same gig.  Reviewed separately.

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78 comments

  1. Great review and I’m totally with you on this one. They have went for and achieved the classic sound but, crucially, the songwriting is different. As a result I don’t think this is just a retro retread. It sounds fresh and it’s great to hear the guys (especially the rhythm section) playing the way they used to. If getting a Tate clone in is what it took for them to achieve this then I’m ok with that. It’s the songs and music that matter.

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      1. It’s a great foundation for them. I’d say they should be a bit more adventurous in adding a progressive edge and a bit more drama but I can’t see them messing with this style too much now they’ve had a taste of success. A little more adventurous, yes. But not “cabaret tour” adventurous!

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        1. Yeah agreed. I think they should and will continue with the guitar based sound, loads of harmonies, but they will progress. Who knows you could even get another album next year if they’re already writing.

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        2. For the first time in a long time, I’m looking forward to whatever they come up with next.

          I also heard them say that they would love to open for Maiden now that they are rocking this sound. That would be a double bill worth seeing.

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  2. Interesting. I was hoping a lot for this album, and was actually quite looking forward to it. To read your review — because I respect your opinion — I’m actually like “oh maybe I won’t”.

    Thanks.

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    1. But maybe you will! I’m just one voice in a sea of many. Jon Wilmenius gave it 8/10 on his excellent site.

      Personally Nick, I appreciate that you respect my opinion, but don’t pass up the chance to hear it yourself.

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      1. I’ve always like different ratings. 8/10? Hm, I wonder…

        Oh, I will do. I’ve still got a few albums to listen through that I got the other day. One of my “sod it I’ll buy it” spending sprees.

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      1. I suppose so. I’m glad you’re able to maintain a level of interest in all this. You’re a fan beyond most peoples’ ability to sustain caring. By extension of which, you could wear your QR tshirts, if you wanted, anytime.

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  3. I went into listening to this album expecting to like it. And yes .. the music on this album is great. But i cant and will never get over the vocals. If they wanted to record with Geoff Tate so badly, then they should have recorded with Geoff Tate. Lets use this for example. What if when Freddie Mercury died … Queen came out with an original album of material .. and the singing was an exact clone of Freddie Mercury. Where would be the merit in that? A singer with the same style? I would totally understand that. But a complete mimic? There is more integrity in a commercial jingle for Arby’s than the copycat sound of the vocals on this album. They say imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery? Geoff Tate should be flattered. And realize that he truly won, no matter how shit or not shit Frequency Unknown is. Puzzling … And most of all …. laughable album. I stand by the statement…. Worst album of the year of any genre. More merit in a One Direction album than this crap.

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  4. I would have to give Queensryche the edge in this as well and I have not heard the album. The reason being is just how Tate has handled himself publicly like coming across as a ass in print and the vid clips that are out there….having said that I’m on the fence about buying the new album ,I dunno why just am right now…… Good review though Mike ….

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    1. Thanks man!

      I think this is what many Tate apologists are forgetting — how disrespectful he has treated his fans.

      I even saw a live clip with the new band where Tate implies that HE wrote “Silent Lucidity”. A song he had nothing to do with.

      It must chap his ass so much to have a Wilton song (Empire) on his album.

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  5. I totally love this album. Easily their best since Promised Land. To me, this sounds just like Queensryche should. About LaTorre is a Tate clone, I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, they have the same style and they’re quite similar sound wise, but if you listen close enough you’ll hear that their voices aren’t that similar after all. I have their album at heavy rotation at home and for each spin I hear less and less Tate in him. But the most important thing of all, the songs are all killers, they have the original QR sound (which Tate’s version doesn’t) and I hear a spark and a love for the music in there which I haven’t done for ages.

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    1. I dunno Jon, I feel like we should just argue with each other…”checkmate”!

      But I totally respect your opinion. All I can give is my opinion. La Torre’s voice has different flavours as you pointed out. I think in a lot of ways it’s good to look at this album as a debut. If my bets are right, they will grow on the next album album, and La Torre will naturally sound more and more like La Torre.

      Bottom line: For the first time since Promised Land, I’m really looking forward to the next step in Queensryche.

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  6. Haha. Checkmate…

    Yeah, I agree with most of the things you wrote anyway and I believe too that they will take things a bit further the next time around.
    This album is the first QR album since Hear In The Now Frontier that I actually spent any money on (Ok, I bought OM II in a second hand shop).

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    1. Parrots and clowns and checkmates, oh my.

      I bought several in second hand shops, because well, I worked in one. However if I was excited about the album enough, I would buy it brand new anyway. Hear In the Now is the first one where I just wasn’t impressed at all. It especially sags in the middle.

      I like American Soldier, mostly, and I’m waffling whether I like the new one more. And I should add as well…and I may update the review to reflect this, or I’ll just let the comments reflect this…the album is growing on me.

      I’ve played it maybe 8-9 times now, and many songs such as “Fallout” are really sticking in my head.

      I’d also like to address one comment that you received on your review. A reader said that La Torre had shit stage presence. I don’t get where that’s coming from. I’ve watched the videos in great detail, and he has a DIFFERENT stage present from Tate, but a presence nonetheless. Tate is more theatrical, and a storyteller. La Torre says, “Come on! Get ’em up!” and bangs his head a lot. Both are valid styles for a vibrant frontman. The thing about La Torre that separates him from most dudes that just stand there saying “Come on!” is that La Torre can really sing.

      Jon a great album to check out (if you haven’t) is Handful of Rain by Savatage, from 1993. Their singer Zack Stevens was young and powerful on that album and La Torre and he have many qualities in common.

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      1. I love Savatage. Their earlier albums, not so much, but with Gutter Ballet and forward on, they are awesome. I’m going with Streets as my fave Sav album. Handful Of Rain is a real killer, it also has Alex Skolnick on lead guitar – what a lineup. A funny thing to add is that a friend of mine, Italian guitar player Tommy Vitaly has both LaTorre and Stevens as guest singers on his latest album.

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        1. You have some impressive friends! Of course I could just accuse you of namedropping :)

          Just kidding, anyway, I think I prefer the Zach Stevens period as well. Some of the Oliva albums blow me away, I love Mountain King, Power of the Night, and the final album…can`t recall the name.

          I`m going with Streets too. Outstanding album.

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        2. Savatage? The first live performance Savatage did was at the Brandon Pub on hwy 60 in Tampa Fl. Mark Twain was another club in Tampa they played frequently we saw them hundred times, 3yrs ago or so olivia did a show at Bourbon St in New Port Richey. I wont mention any names lol! but the bottle clubs in tampa knew us all well! Killer killer band……..check the amount of views on there youtube music, unreal numbers. Mountain King doesn’t even scratch the surface of material.

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        3. I’m not that big on the earlier Savatage albums, for me their greatness started with Gutter Ballet. But, yeah, Mountain King and Sirens are both decent albums and so is Power Of The Night. The only Sava-album I’m not that fond of is Fight For The Rock.

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        4. Jon, too me kinda sinnester voice fit the music, both were good though. Happy for that bands success , I guess they do real well in Europe still, was watching a Metal Church youtube (gods of wrath) some big show in Europe and they show the crowd and guy had Savatage concert T on! Made for a smile! To me they were guys from the hood! Jon though lil better.

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        5. I know Jon is doing a big celebration type tour with old songs, but I’d love to hear Savatage make one more album, with Zack and Alex Skolnick as guests. That would be great!

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        6. Id like to hear another as well, might be a similiar situation as what Degarmo stated in an interview for some fantasy football league he is involved in that I listened to somewhere on net just a couple years ago, actually not 100% sure but I believe it was an ESPN interview ; “id love to do another Queensryche record if we could come up with something outstanding and memorable”. Id like to hear new Savatage as well.

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      2. Dead mans words, 100 mile stare and the last track starts “you reep what you sow” a world war II story, lots of killer songs on that release with just 2 tracks I couldn’t get into and the songs on that release sounded better live imo. Great show with Rage, American Soldier and Empire suites.

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        1. I’m really glad I gave American Soldier a chance. It’s a very good album. Very powerful. I would personally say as a “concept”, I prefer it to Mindcrime. Just because Mindcrime is a fictional story, a bit outlandish, but American Soldier was as real as it gets. You hear very few concept albums that discuss real events in that way. Plus it was a great tribute to the soldiers.

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        2. Agreed 1,000%. If American Soldier had followed Promised land (although it could not have because some of its contentt hadn’t taken place) id imagine sales and success of this release would have been much different. My favorite since Promised land jmo.

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        3. I do like Q2k a lot even though it’s not rated highly by some fans. I think I like American Soldier and Q2k best of the post-Promised Land period. But the thing is, even albums I don’t like much such as Hear in the Now, have some AMAZING songs on them, like “sP00L” which I just love.

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        4. I like American Soldier as well. I think I have a review of it lying around somewhere. See if I can get it online soon, if you’re interested in reading it.

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        5. Mindcrime outlandish? You must live in Canada!!! Ha Ha! IMO Operation Mindcrime has held up very well! Story is pretty much spot on Waco, New Orleans, Boston and im sure I left out a few! Not to mention “gotta make a million and it doesn’t matter dies” (wars, military industrial complex) and the upward income redistribution (banks , and the 1%, outlandish? No!…..jmo!. Can’t wait to hear it live one last time! Wish it was Tishey on drums.

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        6. Sorry let me clarify my statement — I don’t find the overall story “outlandish” because as you said it’s all still relevant today. I mean more the characters of Sister Mary and Dr. X and that sort of thing. A little comic book-y. At least in comparison to American Soldier.

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        7. Yeah, I see what your saying Ladano, its a thought provoking story and there may or may not be any exact explanation for the story and my interpretation may be outlandish! Ha ha! Only the writers know. The story sure seems to cover alot. Steps on alot of toes! Powerful toes. I’ve always respected Queensryche for saying what they wanted to say musically.

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        8. Oh for sure! I remember the lyrics “Polticians say ‘no to drugs’ while we pay for wars in South America” was an eye opener. To me as a kid at the time, I was like, “Really?” And then when he changed it to “Saudi Arabia” during the Gulf War, it was again relevant in a way.

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        9. Yeah, definitely makes for thought. There was magic between all the songwriters for Operation Mindcrime for sure! They created something outstanding for the people who are interested to examine. I’ve always wondered if this record also shut some doors on Queensryche.

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        10. It could have shut doors on them, it probably would today that’s for sure.

          Interesting fact, Mindcrime was at least partly recorded in Quebec at the same studio that Rush cut Moving Pictures.

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        11. My thoughts exactly, parties involved definitely do not have short memories or forget much! Lol! It was all good when the big money was flowing! Ha ha!

          Awh yeah! Moving Pictures, me and my brother listened to the cassette tape literally till the tape wore out and then bought another! Rush! One of the greatest! Thanks for the studio note, I didn’t know that.

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        12. You know the video for Tom Sawyer, with the big glass window behind them? That’s Le Studio, and Ryche definitely did some of Mindcrime there too (in the winter).

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  7. Haha. That’s me, Mr Namedrop… :)
    Well, here’s a review of said Vitaly album, if you’re interested. I tried to stay as objective as possible. It’s not easy to review your friend’s music.

    http://etainmentnewsreviews.wordpress.com/metal/metal-reviews-2012/tommy-vitaly-hanging-rock/

    About that neue regel guy, you should see some of the stuff he wrote that I didn’t approve of. Jeez…
    I actually tried to smooth things over a bit and suggested we’d drop the name calling and all that and just discuss the music as adults. He said he liked the idea, but when I woke this morning he had written no less than six comments in the Freq. Unknown review. Right back where we started. Something’s really wrong there. I didn’t approve of any of the comments..

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    1. Oh and incidentally, on the subject of reviewing a friend’s music, can I ask you a question? Two questions actually:

      1. Have you even been approached by a new band to review their music on your site?
      2. If you have, do you find it difficult to be objective when you know they gave you the music, and approached you to review it, but…you don’t like it?

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      1. 1. Yes, I have
        2. I really don’t know as that hasn’t happened yet. This was the review:

        http://etainmentnewsreviews.wordpress.com/hard-rock/hard-rock-reviews-2012/sideburn-iv-monument/

        Luckily enough, I really dug the album as I was approached by their guitar player Morgan, who also is a friend of mine. But I made it clear, very clear, that I write exactly what I think and if I had found it a 3/10, then so be it. You should check that
        album out, btw. I have a feeling you just might like it as well. :)

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        1. I have been emailed an EP by a new band called Evilyn Strange. Have you heard them? According to the press release they are taking off in Europe. I’m going to play it today.

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        2. I have never ever heard of that band. Please let me know how they sounded.

          On another note, I think it’s really cool that you know of Mats Leven as he is a dear friend. How come you know of him? Is he well known in the metal community in Canada?

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        3. Well, I know OF Mats Leven, I should clarify, because didn’t he sing with Yngwie? I am fairly sure that’s where I know him.

          Evilyn Strange sounds 80’s hard rock. The voice is something like Gilby Clarke. I’m eager to listen to the full CD!

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    2. Jon loved the heckling! Grew just a little, but grew nonetheless! Lol!

      Operation Mindcrime tickets purchased for Jan 14, 2014 Orlando Fl show purchased tonight, 8 rows from stage and center about same spot we had for Priest British Steel show in Tampa few yrs back, which by the way was one of the best shows I’ve ever been lucky enough to attend, unreal!

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        1. Yes sir, have been lucky enough to see them several times over the years and I was completely caught by surprise w/kk, farewell tour news, the quality of British Steel performance was top shelf…….saw them w/Ripper Owens on Demolition tour also at Janice Landing a small venue. …Blood Stained!

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  8. Yes, he sang on two albums with Yngwie, Facing The Animal and the double Live that followed.

    Evilyn Strange sounds interesting. I might check YouTube to see if they’re on there. Did you think their music was any good?

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  9. mikeladano :
    Who is your fave Neue Regel? Jon or Zack? personally I love the albums where they both sing, like Wake of Magellen.

    I can’t help but to smile when I read this, Mike. I’m Jon. My son’s name is Zack… :-D

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    1. Oh! By the way Jon, I’m listening to Saudades de Rock right now for the first time. Thanks for recommending this. I’m not far into it yet but it the second song “Comfortably Dumb” could have fit right in on Waiting for the Punchline! The new drummer is pretty good but also can play with a feel similar to Paul Geary which is something I strongly associate with Extreme (even though Mangini was a technically superior drummer).

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      1. Yeah, I actually prefer Geary to Mangini in Extreme. Mangini is more of a Dream Theater drummer. Maybe that’s why he fits so good in DT…. ;-)
        I also prefer Figuredo to Mangini in Extreme. Yeh, Suadades is a great album.

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        1. Really great album! Some is similar in tone to III Sides but in general I would say this is a great followup to Punchline, an album that I like very much. Gary is singing SO much better than on Van Halen III!

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