QUEENSRŸCHE - New Self-Titled Album Reviewe
By Carl Begai
Twenty years is a long time to wait for a band to get its collective
shit together. Funny how one ugly line-up change and nine new songs can
wash away two decades’ worth of mind-numbing WTF frustration.
Gone is original vocalist Geoff Tate, and with him the fetters that
seemingly/supposedly steered QUEENSRŸCHE into realms they were better
off not exploring if you grew up/into the band's debut EP and the four
albums that followed (The Warning, Rage For Order, Operation: Mindcrime
and Empire). Recharged with the entrance of ex-CRIMSON GLORY singer Todd
La Torre, the band was able to get back to doing what they do best, and
the surprising end result is a record that falls nicely in line with
the aforementioned 4.5 ‘Rÿche classics. Call it Rage For Order meets
Empire; an obnoxious claim to be sure, feel free to disagree, but it’s
pretty damn hard to refute.
This self-titled slab of faith-restoring metal boasts the return of
the almighty riff, twin guitar leads, and brazen in-your-face melodies.
If you remember being ear-wormed by ‘The Whisper’, ‘Empire’, ‘Walk In
The Shadows’, ‘Best I Can’
and ‘I Don’t Believe In Love
’ way back when…
it’s like that. Scratch the short ‘X2’ and ‘Midnight Lullaby’ interludes
as unnecessary filler and what you’re left with is a record with
truckloads of potential to be as big of a deal as Empire was when the
title track exploded all over civilization in the ‘90s. ‘Where Dreams Go
To Die’ eases folks in rather than kicking things off with a
chest-beating “We’re back!” and sets the stage for the clattering Rage
For Order-ish ‘Spore’ (welcome back, Mr. Rockenfield), the
nostalgia-flavoured and altogether gorgeous ‘In This Light’ (the album’s
‘Another Rainy Night’), and the middle-fingering melodic stomp of
‘Redemption’. Three songs in and really, you have to wonder where the
bejeezus Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield have been hiding all these
years. Hell knows their performances (and that of guitarist Parker
Lundgren) scream “old school!” complete with shit-eating grin.
‘Vindication’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’ sign in as the heaviest tracks on
the record, with ‘Fallout’ as the resident 4/4 rocker, while Sister Mary
herself - vocalist Pamela Moore - makes a return to the ranks on the
ballad ‘A World Without’. ‘Open Road’ closes the proceedings with a
similar vibe to the Rage album’s ‘I Will Remember’, and if you’re a
yesteryear Queensrÿche fan it’s hard not to appreciate the weight and
worth of what you’ve just heard.
As for Todd La Torre, who has taken a huge amount of flak for
stepping in where he was needed, he sounds like a young and vibrant
Geoff Tate. The vocal resemblance in uncanny and it’s going to take at
least one more album before the naysayers drop the “clone” tag. Listen
carefully, though, and you’ll hear an aggression in his delivery that
Tate never had.
The battle over the Queensrÿche
name should end here with this
album. It isn’t Tate Hate talking, just a mile high stack of road signs
pointing to the victors’ path in a ridiculous war over who got it right.
Tate screwed himself and the life of a halfway decent solo album (Kings
& Thieves) by slapping together Frequency Unknown, leaving his
former bandmates more than enough room to walk all over him and reclaim
their legacy.Queensrÿche tracklisting:
'Where Dreams Go To Die'
'In This Light'
'A World Without'
'Don’t Look Back'