REVIEW: Queensrÿche – The Verdict (2019 “Masterpiece Edition”)

QUEENSRŸCHE – The Verdict (2019 Century Media 2 CD “Masterpiece Edition”)

The Todd La Torre era of Queensryche is now three albums deep. There’s no more mucking around. When drummer Scott Rockenfield went on personal leave, they didn’t let that stop them from writing and recording The Verdict. La Torre, a capable drummer in his own right, took on the challenge quite seamlessly.

So what’s the verdict on The Verdict?

The first Todd album (2013’s Queensrÿche) was safe and too brief.  The second (2015’s Condition Hüman) was a lot to digest.  The Verdict may have struck a better balance.  They’re still exploring their own brand of metal, bringing in a few new sounds without departing from their core direction.  They sound more comfortable in their own shoes.  Don’t expect a progression into new musical territory.  That’s not what The Verdict is.  It’s a full-force metal album with nuance, complexity, and plenty of guitar harmonies.  That’s what Queensryche do now.  The writing is sharpened, and the songs sound assembled with care.

The album requires a few listens to sink in.  The immediate standout here is a track called “Light-Years”, a song written by bassist Eddie Jackson who seems to come up with amazing songs out of the blue.  Regal, riff-laden metal with bravery and hooks.  This song should surely go down as a future Ryche classic.  (Jackson also wrote “Propaganda Fashion” and co-wrote a bunch of others.)  Another impressive song is the ballady “Dark Reverie” contributed by Parker Lundgren.  Todd really kicks it in the ass with his outstanding vocals.  The longest track “Bent” is dark and epic.  The only real weakness on this album is a lack of diversity, which they seem to be trying to avoid lest they end up with another Dedicated to Chaos.

The balance is clear.  The complexity of Condition Hüman is tempered by sharper hooks and melodies on The Verdict.  They’ve cranked out a lot of music over the last six years and they’re sounding more confident today.  Speaking of “a lot of music”, the consumer has choose between the standard single 10 track CD or the double “Masterpiece Edition” with rarities and new recordings.

For many fans, this will be their first chance to own the songs “46° North”, “Mercury Rising”, and “Espiritu Muerto”.  To get those, you had to buy the (previously reviewed) vinyl box set version of Condition Hüman.  Fans will also be thrilled by the four live songs from 2013’s Queensrÿche.  One of them, “Eyes of a Stranger”, could only be found on the (previously reviewed) Japanese version.  These, of course, all feature Scott Rockenfield on drums, his only appearances in this set.

The percussion on the two new recordings is handled by touring drummer Casey Grillo.  If he ends up a permanent member one day, nobody can say, but these are his very first recordings with Queensryche.  They are acoustic versions of “I Dream in Infrared” (from Rage for Order) and “Open Road” from (Queensrÿche).  Both are quite excellent.  It would be cool to get more of these acoustic renderings.  (Geoff Tate did four on his Queensryche’s Frequency Unknown album.)

The “Masterpiece Edition” (9000 copies) comes packed in a nice big box similar to the one from 2013’s Queensrÿche.  Additional goodies inside include an iron-on patch, a Verdict fridge magnet, and bottle opener.  Now your kitchen can finally be complete.  Just extra fluff, really — buy it for the songs.

4/5 stars

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15 comments

    1. Why can’t they just put out one version of the album like in the old days so I’m not conflicted over which version to get? I like Todd a lot, he’s got the pipes, he’s respectful to the band’s legacy, and he seems to be a creative powerhouse.

      Although the singles off this did sound cool, I’ve yet to pick it up. I actually unwittingly found myself in a CD/movie shop the day it was released. I was going to buy it when I saw the display, but they also had Godfather Part I and II (Part I is a superior film) on Blu-ray in steelbooks on sale for $6 each. Couldn’t resist that one, so I bought those instead. I’m consistently torn between my two great loves, heavy metal and good cinema.

      Speaking of Francis Ford Coppola, did you hear that they did ANOTHER cut of Apocalypse Now? It’s called “Final Cut”, and it’s coming out on 4K and in theaters in August. I don’t see the point though. The theatrical cut of Apocalypse Now was perfect as it was. All the stuff in the Redux version just muddied up a masterpiece and totally threw off the pacing. I’m glad that he cut everything that he did back in 1979.

      Sorry for the rambling, now you know how my day went. Harrison still #1. Queensrÿche is right up there with him. Rock forever!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Amen on the one version thing, except maybe for the Japanese. I haven’t heard a single QR song, so I’m not able to comment on that, nor could I be called a fan of good cinema (I like the Michael Bay Transformers movies a lot).

        I can comment on Director’s cuts though. The one for Alien was curiously shorter than the theatrical cut. Ridley Scott said he sort of created an “alternate” version of the film for his director’s cut because he cut all those scenes out back in 1979 for a reason.

        Weird, that Apocalypse Now coming to cinemas. I think The Phantom Menace (of all Star Wars films!) got a 3D rerelease in cinemas about a decade ago. No point really.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. After slimming down my movie collection, and getting rid of all my Godfather films, I can’t buy another Apocalypse Now :(

        Here’s to one version with all the songs! But that makes collecting less fun!

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  1. Seems like it’s Queensryche season. This is the third review I’ve read in as many days. This one sounds pretty good… I know very little about them, but this definitely appeals to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading this, I so miss Neue Regel. Think of the conversation we could have had going on about this one.

    Besides that, great write-up! I love the album as well. It’s the best Toddrÿche album to date even though I really dug its predecessors as well.

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  3. It’s a conspiracy! Everyone making posts about Queensryche recently when I am thinking about whether I should go to Bloodstock for the Sunday only when they’re playing. Okay, I guess I have to go!

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