The new Queensryche should have arrived in your local metal shop via Century Media. To bring those of you that have not been up to date with the latest, Geoff Tate is out as frontman for Queensryche. He has his own incarnation of Queensryche floating out there in the metal world right now.
Replacing Tate on vocals is Todd La Torre. Needless to say, for old fans of the band, La Torre has some huge shoes to fill. His voice at times is eerily similar to Tate's. His inflection, delivery and timbre mirror Tate's at varying intervals throughout the album. That being said, that's the only comparison to Tate I'm going to give. It's not fair to La Torre to compare him to the former voice of Queensryche for so long. Now on with the review.
With new singer La Torre and new guitarist Parker Lundgren backing original members Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield and Eddie Jackson the band is starting a new chapter with "Queensryche". Now to say I didn't have expectations of what I hoped the album would sound like would be a lie. That being said, I tried to listen to the new album as an objective fan filled with hope and a bit of trepidation. With trembling fingers I hit play and the first track "X2" began to play. Immediately my mind filled with thoughts of "Promised Land". The opening track is a short, eerie intro. As the opening song of the album "Where Dreams Go To Die" began, I felt the familiar twinge of anticipation.
The song begins and immediately I feel a strange sense of deja vu. I swear I've heard this song or one similar to it on a prior album. At times, this feeling recurred throughout various points on the new album. Vocally, La Torre is a beast. He sings with raw emotion, power and lots of passion. His voice fits on every song and is utilized to it's fullest capabilities, for a great example of his range check out "Vindication".
The music on the album is a mix of Promised Land and Hear in the Now Frontier era Queensryche. It's very proggy and somewhat subdued at times. There are flashes of the olden days with some fast paced guitar work and a legitimate solo or two thrown in sporadically. But overall, the album is much tamer than I had hoped for. I know I can't get 10 tracks that sound like "The Needle Lies" or "Night Rider" but I was at least hoping for a little more heaviness. The band had been moving in a more prog oriented direction with the past few albums and I had hoped that the injection of new blood would steer the band back towards that style.
For what it is, the album is really solid and a definite "Sign of the Times" that the band is ready to move forward and is coming back with a solid offering. As a longtime fan, I have to say that I am a little disappointed with the lack of change in the sound and stylings on the album. There are almost hints of pop music that sneak in to a few tracks on the album and feel a little out of place. La Torre definitely brings me back to earth with his vocals and somewhat saves the album for me. But it honestly sounds like an album they'd have recorded with their former vocalist if things had gone differently with that whole scenario.
QR left me wanting a bit more. However, that being said, this is definitely an album that I will listen to multiple times in order to be able to finally make up my mind. If I have any addendums or corrections to make after this initial assessment, I will issue that when that time comes. Hopefully this is just a stepping stone to the next big album for this incarnation of the band. Just remember fellow metal heads, this ain't your mama's Queensryche of days gone past. This is a new Queensryche and with that comes new sounds. Try to be open to it and give it a shot and see what you think.