Queensryche - Queensryche (Century Media)

The battle of the Queensryche brands is joined in earnest...
Release Date: 
23 Jun 2013 - 11:30pm

I feel I should give a little disclaimer here – I’ve been a fan of Queensryche for 30 years, ever since I heard Queen of the Reich on the radio the night before the band’s storied  first EP was released in England in 1983, so I’m very distressed by what’s been going on within the QR camp over the last year or so and their well documented schism with original frontman Geoff Tate… that said I was utterly bewildered by that last album they put out on Roadrunner, the ultimately execrable Dedicated to Chaos… so clearly something had give somewhere.

That album was the sound of a band that had been cut adrift from metal reality, helmed by a man who clearly had problems finding the plot… so it’s a big breath of fresh air to hear this self titled record open with a nice, ‘Mindcrime’-styled piece of atmospherics…  so far so good.

AND THEN TODD LA TORRE OPENS HIS MOUTH… and a great voice comes out for sure. But – and I think it’s a big but given the acrimony surrounding the split – if you close your eyes -= and you’ve all surely heard a track by now on You Tube or something so you know what I mean – if you close your eyes it’s Geoff Tate singing. Rather like those rather desperate little men you see who, having split up with a gorgeous girl then turn up down the pub the next week with a carbon copy of girl (A),  The ‘Ryche would appear to have done the same sonically it seems to me.

That probably isn’t fair on us, the listeners or on Todd La Torre. He’s been put in the position of being Queensryche’s version of Ripper Owens (though not, hopefully, their Blaze Bayley) and we all know what happened to him… Of course it’s hard to see QR getting back together with former vocalist Geoff Tate at this juncture whilst both parties sit about outside various courtrooms waiting to find out who gets the rights to the name, but then I don’t suppose Tipton and Downing ever expected Rob Halford to swan back into their lives either – remind me next time we’re down the pub to tell you about the unflattering portrait of Rob I saw in Judas Priest’s  office when I found myself on business there one morning…

But I’ve digressed – you want to hear about the new Queensryche album, and so you shall. You probably have an idea of what it sounds like if you’re a fan of the band and have been perusing the setlists of the first dates they’ve been doing with Todd, and for the most part Queensryche delivers on the promise of those you tube clips those of us not lucky enough to have seen the band in the flesh have seen. Broadly – and obviously discounting the massive songwriting smarts of Chris Degarmo and the creative flamboyance of Tate – what we have here is a quick race around Queensryche from their 1983 debut to round about Hear in the Now Frontier from 1997. 

That’s the meat n’potatoes bits of Queensryche, obviously as, although there is plenty to like about this record – especially opening track Where Dreams Go to Die and the anthemic  Redemption – much of what you hear here- especially towards the back end of the album - is a bit ordinary, whilst happily never plumbing the appalling depths of Dedicated to Chaos. The band probably felt that, in the light of Tate rush releasing his own Frequency Unknown album under the Queensryche banner that they had to have something in the marketplace too, but whilst this is a better record than Frequency Unknown by some distance you can’t help thinking that perhaps a couple of months longer in it’s gestation period might have made Queensryche a better record – but at least there are none of those weird, creepy stalker vocals Tate seems to have become enamoured with over the last few years so we should complain, right?

If I seem a little over critical then that’s possibly because the departure of Tate probably over inflated my expectations of what this band would deliver sans the tight leather shorts, without the regrettable dips into the world of cabaret and without the man who was clearly ready to turn his back completely on us as metal fans. Queensryche is never less than a solid listen and, if this outfit gets another chance to record under the Queensryche moniker, then I’m sure the next effort will only be moving onwards and upwards. Good enough.