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.
I 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.
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.