Century Media – [Release Date 24.06.13]
There are undoubtedly many lessons one can learn in life, but the one I believe in most is not taking anything for granted, including in music. Take Seattle Prog Metallers Queensryche, for instance: if somebody had told me fifteen years ago that one day there would be someone, other than Geoff Tate, singing in the band, at the very least, I would have laughed in their face!
Well what seemed to be the impossible has become reality as the band is about to release its latest album, simply entitled “Queensryche” (a statement perhaps?) with the help of ex-Crimson Glory frontman Todd La Torre.
With Tate having released a magnificent album in “Kings & Thieves” late last year, the remaining members of Queensryche had a big task in proving to the world that there can be ‘life after Tate’, but, and believe me when I say that I am genuinely quite surprised, they have somehow managed to pull this one through! How is this possible?
Well, apart from the fact that they come across as fired up and as dynamic as they were during the “Empire”/”Promised Land” era, in Todd La Torre they have found a frontman who may not be as flamboyant as Tate, but who is nevertheless capable of producing vocal performances of an impressive range.
Actually, I would not be at all surprised if the less-initiated among you actually were to think that Tate was still the singer of the band during the first few seconds of the opening composition “Where Dreams Go To Die” – a magnificent composition whose dark/epic opening theme and main heavy riff create a beautiful contrast with its multi-layered catchy vocal refrain.
Great openings deserve at least decent successors and the heavy-riffed three and a half minute “Spore” is certainly worthy. With “In This Light”, a song filled with wonderful guitar harmonies and intelligent background orchestral arrangements, the album has truly reached its peak moment, but that does impeach on the quality of the remaining seven compositions on offer.
“Redemption” will both surprise and impress with its intertwined vocal themes, “Vindication” finds drummer Scott Rockenfield unleashing his great skills, while the harmonies employed on the duet “A World Without” / “Open Road” are reminiscent of the band’s soul-searching exercise around the time when “Promised Land” was released (1994).
If you like your Metal to be simple and immediate then you will certainly enjoy the sing-along themes of “Don’t Look Back” and in the three minute opus “Fall Out” you will finally recognise this new version of Queensryche as a band that really knows how to play to its strengths.
I am not going to lie to you: I still find it very difficult to find these guys recording music without Geoff Tate at the helm and, deep inside, I believe that “Queensryche” would possibly have sounded even better with him performing the vocal duties. Having said that, I have to give credit to the band, in general, for coming up with a truly inspiring album under truly difficult circumstances and to La Torre, in specific, for having done a pretty good job in filling those legendary musical shoes.
Now that the founding triumvirate Rockenfield/Jackson/Wilton have made their move, what remains to be seen is how Tate’s all-star version of Queensryche will answer with their upcoming release “Frequency Unknown”. This is turning out to be a very complicated ‘game’ indeed. **** (4.0/5.0)
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