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QUEENSRYCHE Queensryche

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Monday, August 19, 2013 @ 4:57 PM


"I have to say that while I'm not overly thrilled about the disc as a whole, Queensryche ends up being a serviceable, albeit uneven, addition to the band's discography."

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QUEENSRYCHE
Queensryche

Century Media 2013








The self-titled disc is second of two albums to be released under the QUEENSRYCHE moniker this year.

With the court case that followed the explosive breakup between singer Geoff Tate and the other members of the band still going on, both parties have the rights to use the name and continue to drive the legacy of the group into the ground.

The Geoff Tate piloted version of the band released Frequency Unknown earlier this year and that was actually a decent album in my opinion.

Guitarist Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield retained Parker Lundgren on guitar for their version of the competing QUEENSRYCHE entities. They then went out and hired now ex-CRIMSON GLORY vocalist Todd La Torre to front the band on vocals. (As an aside, would someone please tell La Torre and Lundgren to stop talking about the lawsuit in interviews. You are hired guns, and this is for the original members to fight out.)

The band wanted to return to their more rocking metal ways they started out with which was something Tate was obviously uninterested in doing.

Much like the Tate album, this album is a schizophrenic journey. There are ups and downs along with questions being raised. (By the way, the deluxe edition of the album comes with a band patch, sticker, guitar pick and three pins.)

The album opens with a decent mood setter of an instrumental called "X2" before kicking into the up tempo track "Where Dreams Go To Die". I loved the drum work in the song but it was the first of a number of songs where La Torre sounds more like Geoff Tate rather than himself. It wasn't always a drawback but I'd rather hear La Torre sound like himself than a tribute band version of a younger version of Tate.

The same thing occurs during "Spore" but the rocker is actually quite good.

There are four songs where La Torre sounds more like himself. You can check out "In This Light", "Fallout" and "Open Road" for new songs and the live version of "Prophecy". The first song was an quickly paced track and I found it pretty good. However, "Fallout" and "Open Road" did absolutely nothing for me.

Yes, there are three live recordings of classic QUEENSRYCHE songs included as bonus tracks. While live or studio recordings of these old songs are completely unnecessary, I do have to credit the band here for choosing three interesting tracks to put on the album. I really liked "En Force" in particular.

The first song from the band that got airplay was "Redemption". It is a lively rocker but petered out at the end of the song with a completely idiotic sounding ending. Another wasted opportunity was the second instrumental "Midnight Lullaby".

While the vocals seemed to be a bit downplayed in the mix on "Vindication", the track overall was superb. And the vocals alternated between sounding like both Tate and La Torre but in a way that managed to elevate the song.

But the standout track on the disc for me was "Don't Look Back". The song just rocked out with superior sound quality throughout and the best vocal performance from La Torre out of all the songs on the disc.

The biggest question I had about the sound of the album was why they made the decision to have the vocals sound so much like Geoff Tate, the guy they want nothing to do with anymore. It just doesn't make sense to me. I know that they want to return to their past, and the new singer does give them the vocal dexterity that Tate does lack now. But they should've charted a new course instead of simply trying to recapture the past.

I will say this though, the band sounds like more of a metal band or at least a hard rock band than they have in the last 10 years or so. Freed from the reins of the reported egomaniacal ways of Tate, they did follow through on the stated goal of rocking out again. I'm not sure who played what for the guitar parts on each song, but the guitars are really there throughout the disc.

My personal opinions about the entire fiasco of the breakup of the "original" QUEENSRYCHE is that I'm kind of ticked off at all concerned parties. I don't think either side is covering themselves in glory and I'd prefer to see neither camp be allowed to use the QUEENSRYCHE name. RISING WEST and Geoff Tate anyone?

But since I don't have a say in that matter, the review of the music has to come first. And in the attempt to do so, I have to say that while I'm not overly thrilled about the disc as a whole, Queensryche ends up being a serviceable, albeit uneven, addition to the band's discography. If they win the court fight to retain the QUEENSRYCHE name, the band here should focus their energies towards melding their past with a "new" vocal sound that incorporates La Torre into the band as more than someone able to mimic Tate's vocal style.

*** out of 5 stars


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