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Queensryche - Queensryche (Album Review)

Monday, 17 June 2013 Written by Ben Bland

You couldn’t make up the current Queensrÿche situation. Two bands now exist where there was once one. Geoff Tate, the original vocalist, now heads up one outfit under the name, and released the almost universally panned ‘Frequency Unknown’ a couple of months ago.

This self-titled effort features the remaining members of the band, with Crimson Glory vocalist Todd LaTorre replacing Tate. In November the courts will decide which Queensrÿche will be allowed to continue. Are you confused yet? 

It’s hard not to consider ‘Queensrÿche’ as an album made with the intention of winning over a divided fanbase. Before the split with Tate, Queensrÿche wandered down a path of hackneyed alternative rock, to the extent that they have arguably not produced a successful album in the prog-metal style of their late ‘80s heyday since 1994’s ‘Promised Land’.

For many long-term fans, ‘Queensrÿche’ will be seen as a success as it banishes memories of recent turgid efforts, such as 2011’s ‘Dedicated to Chaos’. As bad as the band’s attempts at rewriting their rulebook turned out to be, ‘Queensrÿche’ is little more than an average attempt at a stylistic resurrection that should have come as second nature.

It’s not necessarily terrible, in the same way that most of their discography has managed to be listenable. What is problematic is the lack of inspiration on offer. ‘Queensrÿche’ is full of passable rip-offs of Queensrÿche circa 1990 and while that is no doubt pleasing for those who loved the band back in the day, it’s hard to find anything about it particularly exciting. Tracks like Where Dreams Go to Die and Vindication are solid enough classic metal songs, but that’s all they are. The Queensrÿche that recorded ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ 25 years ago wouldn’t have taken them far past the demo stage.

There will, no doubt, be those among the Queensrÿche fanbase who take this record as proof that their favourite band can still cut it. Can you blame them for that? After all that Queensrÿche fans have been through in recent times it’s hard to begrudge them their pleasure at hearing this album. For casual listeners, though, there is little here that cannot be heard at a higher standard elsewhere. Fans of ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ and ‘Empire’ may give this a listen out of curiosity, but they will then have little to no interest in listening to it again.  

While it is easy to understand the many Queensrÿche fans proclaiming this record as a welcome return to form, it is far harder to understand why anyone else would care. To the casual observer, Queensrÿche have been tumbling towards irrelevance for a decade. The fact that four of them (plus a hired hand) are prepared to phone in copies of their earlier material shouldn’t be too much of a cause for celebration.


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