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Queensr˙che - Promised Land CD (album) cover

PROMISED LAND

Queensr˙che

 

Progressive Metal

3.99 | 274 ratings

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MrMan2000
5 stars Four long years. F-O-U-R L-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-N-G YEARS. That's how long it had been between studio releases when Queensryche's Promised Land finally landed in record stores. And you just KNOW I was there early to pick up a copy. This was the first time that I purchased a new QR release in CD format and I immediately rushed home, placed it in the tray and sat back for a listen.

And I wasn't disappointed. From the first listen it was clear that the four intervening years hadn't softened the mood of the Seattle quintet. No, these were not the happy melodies found on Empire. Nor were they the angry ranting of Operation Mindcrime. These were brooding, introspective songs. Songs about pain (Damaged), regret (Promised Land), isolation (Disconnected), lost minds (Out of Mind) and lost youth (One More Time). These weren't the social conscious songs of previous efforts, but more like the soul-searching meanderings of a man, and a band, questioning their own existence. And for that very reason this is a bluntly honest disc that sometimes hits the listener over the head, sometimes invites the listener to share a secret, sometimes wants the listener to maybe go away (but no, come back....please). The music is from the heart and thus, makes this a moving, compelling release.

There is a thinly linked concept to all the songs, as they each deal with A life. The opener, 9:28 AM is a sound-driven version of birth while the closer, Someone Else, deals with an individual looking back on a life that wasn't quite what he thought it was. In between are songs dealing with all kinds of life's topics. The strength and muscle of the disc comes from the title track and centerpiece (Promised land) and three closing songs (My Global Mind, One More Time, Someone Else). Each are uniquely QR songs; any fan of the band would instantly recognize them as QR songs and yet they are totally unique and original efforts. So too is Disconnected, a song that combines effects-driven guitars, distorted vocals, synthesizers and saxophone to create a pleasant cacophony of electronic sound. Other songs don't quite reach the same heights as those mentioned above, but are definitely quality QR. Bridge is a pretty, melodic tune written by Chris DeGarmo. It addresses his struggle in dealing with his father, a man who disappeared from his youth and now wants to renew the relationship. The record company made a major mistake by making I AM I the first single, instead of Bridge. Bridge, while not a pop song in the vein of Jet City Woman or Another Rainy Night is radio-friendly. It has all the elements of your typical power-ballad. IMO, had the record company made Bridge the first single the song would have taken off and propelled Promised land to major hitdom. Not that the disc didn't sell....it debuted at #3 on the US charts, but didn't maintain that momentum. A radio hit out of the gate would have helped immensely.

I AM I IS a great song, maybe better than Bridge. I love the lyrics, which deal with our ever-present media and their desire to shape and form everything. The music is progressive and melodic, the voice somewhat sinister, the lyrics a bit diabolical. All very appropriate for the song.

Damaged follows in much the same vein. Heavy sound, heavy lyrics, cool bridge in the middle and imaginative guitar solo, that somewhat reminds me of the solo found on Chemical Youth from RFO. Out of Mind is a mellow yet very dark song about the good folks found in mental homes (ah, the usual lighthearted songs of QR!). This is a tremendously original, subtle song with a perfect ambience for the lyrics. The understated guitar solo is appropriate as are the slightly tortured lyrics.

The centerpiece of the disc though is the 8+ minute Promised land. Powerful, hard, dark, introspective....the music again matches the lyrics in mood and style. This is an opus in the same vein of previous QR songs such as Roads to Madness and Suite Sister Mary. My only reservation is the conclusion of the song. A broad array of instruments combine to create a sonic hum that's damn near hypnotizing. It's pretty cool but goes on a little long, which is emphasized because it fades into an overlong sound-effects bit that's little more than the sound of walking feet. Together they create about a 2 minute area in the middle of the disc where there's no real music. Were it not for this flaw Promise land would rank even higher. The end of the disc is a major recovery from that middle hiccup. My Global Mind is a sonic assault with a beautiful break near the end, much like the break found on Child of Fire from Warning. One More Time is another classic QR effort. Layered guitars on top of magical rhythms make a musical delicacy. Finally, the closer is a Geoff Tate ballad, just him, his voice and a piano. If ever you doubted the range, power and sheer beauty of Geoff's vocals this should change your mind. Simply wonderful....the kind of song I always knew the band had in them but had never tapped.

All in all, a VERY solid rebound from the slightly disappointing Empire. This was again Queensryche reaching for something no other band had achieved. Only this time they were reaching inward instead of outward and what they found was a somewhat dark, somewhat scary reality. Promised land no doubt reveals the trauma members of the band were going through at the time and their emotions come through clear. They often say pain is the inspiration for great art and this is a good example.

MrMan2000 | 5/5 |

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