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AMERICAN SOLDIER

Queensr che

Progressive Metal


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3 stars Right now listening to American Soldier by Queensryche, so this review is basically my first impression, and as you R che fans out there know, thier albums are not always immediate and it takes time and repeated listenings to grow on you. My first reaction as i listen is that this album is a lot more subdued, sombre and mid-paced than Operation Mindcrime II. Of course this dark and ominous mood is due to the heavy subject and concept of war. Something similar happened to me after Empire, the most commercially successful and accesible Queensr che album, being followed by the obscure and moody Promised Land. At first it was a bit of a shock, but then it became another favorite of mine. That same situation is repeating 15 years later. At first listen, American Soldier seems a bit stark, very atmospheric, full of sound effects and soldiers voices, occasional Saxophone by G. Tate ( I guess), with only mid-tempo and slow songs. Perhaps is a mistake to hear and review a new album with the closest reference of its predecessor. In this perspective, American Soldier is a noticeable contrast to Operation Mindcrime II ( A great, varied album that makes justice to the first OM), and the other Queensr che album it resembles the most, is the aforementioned Promised Land. But of course I will continue listening to it several times and im sure eventually it will grow on me as every other Queensr che album has.

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Send comments to glaurung (BETA) | Report this review (#207730)
Posted Thursday, March 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Welcome to the Show

This is a fairly dark album. As an overview, the songs tend to be sort of heavy, with good ripping solos. The main event is still Tate, however.

A noticeable effect within the majority of the songs would have to be the interview clips. Queensryche interviewed American soldiers and placed their responses into certain songs, so during some parts you'll hear clips of interviews come in. I think this actually adds to the overall theme of the music, and casts a haunting effect into the album. It also reminds me of another album... Dark side of the Moon. Another addition to the songs would be small acoustic snippets and sax solos. Geoff Tate has such a powerful voice, but he never lets it rip, content with a powerful mid range operatic style.

The thing I feared most about this record was the possibility of strong political themes. Luckily, this album is pretty much devoid of politics. It focuses on the horrors of war, and several songs are in the eyes of soldiers (and not just American soldiers, these songs could easily be seen through the eyes of any poor young kid caught up in his countries delusional wars) The songs never get extremely heavy, and never get extremely soft, but are powerful, operatic, and catchy.

In fact, the most political thing about the album is the name. There are no George W. Bush attacks, no pro or anti war sentiments (although the album is slightly anti-war, not anti-war in general but shows war and it's effects as negative and painful. The album is mainly an Anti-war but Pro-soldier. I was able to accept the song's messages, and it isn't anything to be worried about.) The whole' album is built around Soldiers and the psychological, social, physical, and family effects it has on them. Widows, dead men, social out casting, broken families, etc. The interview clips don't ever seem intrusive to me, and add a sort of harrowing atmosphere.

In the end, this is a very solid Queensryche album. Not as good as Mindcrime, for sure. Some of the mid tempo songs start to sound samey and drag a bit. And, I liked Mindcrime II a bit more, as well. But, it is most certainly a decent album.

My final rating is three stars. If you like it extra heavy, detract a bit. If you are annoyed by tape effects like added interviews, detract a bit. If you absolutely hate soldiers and find anything that portrays them in a positive light terrible... detract quite a bit.

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Send comments to Alitare (BETA) | Report this review (#208749)
Posted Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Like most of their albums, this is written for Ryche fans. There will be no hit singles and arena shows with this album.

also, like every other Ryche alum, it's kind of unique. I suppose it's similat to OM2, and, maybe a bit like Promised Land.

My first impression is that it's not great, not great at all. But, all of their albums tend to grow on me. Still though, I really don't think this one is going to make the cut.

When I first listened to OM2, I knew it was growing to grow on me. Here though, I have my doubts.

There isn't much particularly interesting here. A few tunes are solid, but mostly it's kind of dull and not very creative.

If you are not a Ryche fan, then, skp this one.

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Send comments to scevrog (BETA) | Report this review (#210530)
Posted Sunday, April 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars First, let me say that American Soldier is a return to form in many ways for the band. This album could have been the natural successor to Promised Land, as it shares several similarities with that release.

Production While many consider Operation: Mindcrime to be Queensryche's masterpiece, I consider Empire to be the band's pinnacle when it comes to production values. American Soldier does not reach the heights of Empire to my ears, but it rivals Mindcrime. In fact, the drum sound on American Soldier is very similar to Mindcrime, as well as the fact that it is also a concept album. I also like the use of spoken dialogue (interviews of soldiers) which also is reminiscent of Mindcrime. Where American Soldier suffers is in the area of dynamics. The mix sounds very muddy at times, and there are some missed opportunities throughout the disc where the dynamics could have been ramped or punched up.

Neither Gray not Slater have shown that they understand or are capable of delivering at a level that Queensryche achieved during their finest moments.

I will give due credit to the member of the duo who is responsible for the vocal production. While Geoff Tate does not have the range he once has, he has learned to use his instrument very effectively, and the production work on his vocals is masterful. In fact, it's Tate's vocals that carry the album.

Songwriting I have a real problem with the songwriting credits on American Soldier, and it's this. Michael Wilton, the guitarist of the band, either did not contribute to the songwriting or did not get credit. I have a hard time believing that Wilton, a founding member, would forfeit his writing credits, so he must not have contributed to the writing. How does that happen in a metal band?

Metal is based around the riff, and if your guitarist is not contributing riffs, what's he doing? I believe that Wilton's absence in the songwriting is the reason that American Soldier is largely mid-tempo, almost ambient soundscapes.

Scott Rockenfield turns in one of his more inspired performances, and Wilton does play some incredible leads, but the overbearing weight of the sonic landscape blunts the crispness of the drums and leads. Again, I lay this at the feet of Slater, a member of the industrial band Snake River Conspiracy.

Genre There has been a lot of talk around the Internet about whether this is a metal album or not. For the most part, it isn't, but there are metal moments on the disc. Man Down! could be a Warning outtake if it were more uptempo. It's the one song where metal riffing, screaming vocals, and a smoking solo come together. Unfortunately, it's also one of the more straightforward, uninteresting tracks, both musically and lyrically.

There is also the question of whether this is a progressive album or not. Again, for the most part, the answer is no. There are some interesting song arrangements, but the production team just doesn't know how to refine the musical ideas into dynamic songs. The saxophone doesn't punch through like it should (see Pink Floyd); the dialogue sounds muffled at times and too loud at others; and the middle sections just aren't given enough room to breathe.

With Wilton not contributing in the songwriting department, the brief instrumental sections come off sounding generic, and unlike on Promised Land, there is no central prog track.

Lyrics Tate's lyrics are what give the album repeat value. He manages to tap into the mind of soldiers without getting political. It really was an inspired idea to interview soldiers for this project, and you get the sense that Tate is sincerely trying to honor the experiences of the men and women of the armed forces. There is enough grit in the lyrics to give them emotional weight without getting too profane or gory. The lyrics of If I Was King, hit like a sledgehammer. You really feel the pain of loss.

Conclusion I really enjoy listening to American Soldier. I haven't said that about a Queensryche album since Promised Land. While it is difficult to not compare a band's newest release to their previous output, especially when some of that output is considered masterpieces, I have tried to review American Soldier on its own merits. There are shortcomings, but here's to hoping that this album is the first step in the band's climb out of mediocrity. To do that, the band needs to dump their production team and get Wilton back involved in the songwriting. Kelly Gray was rejected by the fans, but the band found a backdoor for him to remain as a songwriter in the band, and Slater just doesn't bring anything fresh to the table.

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Send comments to sixpence-guy (BETA) | Report this review (#210534)
Posted Sunday, April 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
ghost_of_morphy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I expected a lot from the new Queensryche album. I realy did. I'm dissappointed, but not majorly. This is an ok album. 3 stars.

Having given my judgement, let me give some background. I'm not a prog metal guy. I like symphonic and eclectic prog, with the occasional jaunt into eclectic or jazz rock or psychedelic. That's me. I'm traditional.

Nevertheless, Queensryche has been one of the VERY few prog metal bands that have intrigued me. They caught me with their first album and I've listened to them intermittently ever since.

Why am I dissappointed with this album? Mostly because it could be so much better. It has a great concept. The music is ok, but it's more on the hard (or heavy) rock side than the prog side. And the thing just doesn't gel. It's a concept album where the pieces don't quite fit.

I'm hesitant to say that, because the subject that is dealt with here is so political and divisive. But I'll say it. The pieces just don't fit. The album tries too hard to be inclusive, but from a certain viewpoint.

Oh well, that's political stuff. I mean that more about the music. But if you are listening to this honestly, it's hard to seperate your political viewpoint from that. And if you have actually been in the situations depicted by the lyrics, I expect it will be impossible.

I look forward to reviews from veterans.

In the meanwhile you are stuck with me. This is good music. Queensryche doesn't go that far into metal or prog on this album. I'd classify this as heavy prog with strong influences from both. There sure isn't anything innovative or unusual here. It's like a weak and anorexic version of Operation: Mindcrme. I've listened to this three times and coincidentally it earns three stars from me.

I expected so much more.

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Send comments to ghost_of_morphy (BETA) | Report this review (#211682)
Posted Sunday, April 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars In the late eighties Queensrhyche released 3 albums, Rage For Order, Operation Mindcrime and Empire that sealed their reputation as one of the greatest metal bands of the day. The following album, Promised Land although decent enough failed to live up to their 3 previous metal behemoths. Then followed a string of poorly received albums until in 2006 Queensrhyche made the bold decision to release Operation Mindcrime II. At the time the music press would have you believe that it was a massive return to form for the band. In truth whilst being better than anything they'd released in years it was still in the main fairly average. The same claims are now being made about American Soldier, one reviewer in a well known monthly music magazine even going as far as to say it's their best album ever. Well whilst I wouldn't agree with such a bold claim I will go as far as to say it is their best since Empire.

American Soldier as the title suggests is about.well.er. the plight of American Soldiers. As you might imagine it's quite a dark album which works well with Queensrhyche's musical delivery. Voices of real soldiers talking about their feelings and war experiences are blended in with the songs. In the case of Unafraid its pure overkill though, a soldiers voice present throughout almost the entire track, way too loud in the mix too.

Despite the admirable sentiments of the album and giving a voice to soldiers what really sets it apart from the bands post Empire output is the sheer musical quality of the songs. There's some excellent riffs and tunes here - highlights being Hundred Mile Stare and At 30,000 Feet which really can compete with Queensrhyche at their best. What stops this album from reaching those heights as a whole though is too many of the tracks whilst being very good just lack that killer punch to match the likes of I Don't Believe In Love or Silent Lucidity to name 2 classics.

So overall, a genuine return to form though not up there with their best albums but one that any fan of the band will be happy to have in their collection. Very good but not quite making the excellent grade; 3 Ż stars.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#212119)
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars American Soldier is the eleventh full-length studio album by American progressive metal act Queensr che. I wasn┤t too impressed with Operation : Mindcrime II (2006) which was their last album with original material ( Queensr che released Take Cover in 2007 which is a cover tune album), so my expectations weren┤t too high when I put this album on to take a listen. I┤ve been pleasantly surprised though and I┤m happy that I finally decided to give American Soldier a chance.

The music sounds like a mix between the music on Promised Land (1994) and Tribe (2003) to my ears and that┤s not the worst albums I could mention for references IMO. The use of saxophone in a couple of the songs of course leads my thoughts towards the former while the dark mood and heavy riffing reminds me of the latter. American Soldier is a concept album where the lyrics are, as the title suggests, about American Soldiers in times of war and peace. As the liner notes says: "This record is dedicated and was inspired by stories from soldiers who have served America during times of war and peace. Thank you!". A controversial subject matter. The stories are generally melancholic and are meant to bring awareness to the problem that many war veterans have a hard time adjusting to society when they return home after serving their country in foreign lands. There┤s also some songs about having to deal with a bad conscience having killed other people in the line of duty. The songs as always are centered around the powerful vocals and strong vocal lines by Geoff Tate. This time there┤s a guest appearance in the song Home Again when Geoff Tate sings duet with his 10 year old daughter Emily Tate. The songs have lots of samples with soldiers speaking about their experiences which is great for the atmosphere of the album.

The band is as always very well playing and professional. They don┤t play anything extraordinairy but they know their chops and it┤s always nice to listen to professionals play.

The production is very good. Warm and heavy. I like it.

In the end American Soldier becomes a bit too predictable and formulaic vers/ chorus styles for my taste though and it┤s a real shame that Queensr che seems to be content with this style and don┤t aim for a more playful and adventurous songwriting style because this album definitely has the potential to be something special. As it turns out American Soldier is a good album by Queensr che with some excellent moments deserving a 3.5 star rating and I would say it┤s their best album since Promised Land.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#235074)
Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars As I understand it, Queensr che are legends. Co-founders of style, back in early 80's, they still keep releasing albums. I started with their latest, maybe it was a fault, but that's the way which I choose.

I admire good lyrics, I really do. But (word "but" is becoming some kind of ever-present phrase, clichÚ phrase, because there's always sentence, then "but" and opposite thought, anyway, that's just how it is) I feel that words here, the message of this album, about U.S. army is far more important here, than music. Maybe they intended to do it this way, but I really feel that music plays second fiddle, is just accompanying the lyrics and speech here.

Or maybe the size of these thoughts is so big that it attracts attention the most. But it's past, it just takes some time to adjust yourself to this not so usual balance. Please note, that this review is not just matter of one review, but was written for few listening, so it's ongoing experience. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. It began when I slowly started to realize certain harmony in these songs, that it's not unbalanced, but more like 50/50. But it took some time. So I can give

4(+) now, because not every prog metal have to sound like PM, it could be calm metal (it's still metal though). I'm glad that I found this, finally, after some failures, metal that managed to please me.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#244865)
Posted Friday, October 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A Solid Effort From Queensr che!

I find Queensr che to be a fairly inconsistent band overall. It's actually kind of a shame because Operation: Mindcrime was a genre-defining album, but aside from that they haven't released many other great albums. Maybe only 3 other albums of theirs are worthy of a four star rating. And in those albums they show their excellence, but they really haven't shown it much since Promised Land.

With American Soldier, Queensr che has a sort of return-to-form, and this has some really great songs on it. Nothing on this album is "bad" so to speak, but there is a fair amount of filler, with a good portion of the songs really not being memorable at all. There are a few great songs that ultimately overrule the weaker ones, but that doesn't deny the fact that a good half of this album is not anything special.

On top of that, this album does get pretty formulaic very quickly, and it can get very predictable. There are a few small twists in a few songs, but for the majority it is standard verse-chorus-verse American heavy metal music. This is not nessacerily a bad thing, though. Some of my favorite albums are just straightforward metal. I'm just pointing out that this isn't even remotely progressive. This ends up being a little bit of a problem being that this album is an hour in length. Simply put, this album doesn't have enough standout content to be worthy of an hour of my time. While it is by no means bad, there is nothing here that hasn't been done before.

With that said, there are some great songs here, and the musicianship is top notch. Queensr che won't have a 10 minute shred fest, but they show what they're worth in American Soldier. A few great guitar solos, some memorable riffs, excellent vocals from Geoff Tate, and great melodies make this album far from failure. However, you will notice the same flaw burdens the majority of the album in the track-by-track review.

THE MUSIC:

"Sliver"- An upbeat riff opens up the first song. It almost sounds like rapping occasionally on this song, but soon Geoff Tate delivers a pretty good vocal performance. This song initially made me think "what happened?", but I now find it to be a pretty solid opener. If you were to listen to this song after finishing up Operation: Mindcrime, you would realize that Queensr che has a much different, more grunge-oriented sound here, in contrast to their earlier traditional heavy metal direction.

"Unafraid"- The second song here is very strong, and is one of my favorites on the album. After a short spoken word introduction, a light drum riff, vocals and guitar enter. A heavy riff follows that, but the chorus is really catchy here. It has a great guitar solo later in the song.

"Hundred Mile Stare"- After a brief opening, a rhythmic guitar and drum riff enters. The vocals here are pretty good, and I like the use of multiple vocal parts. It's got a good enough chorus, and some nice bridges.

"At 30,000 Feet"- The spoken word introduction portrays the feeling of being at war well, and soon a beautiful guitar rhythm enters. The chorus is particularly good in this song. Another solid song.

"A Dead Man's Words"- An ominous guitar melody is the theme to this song, and a metal section soon follows. This has some pretty good use of keyboards thrown in to make this song kind of cool. The chorus can get pretty annoying though.

"The Killer"- This song starts with an upbeat riff, and this is a pretty fast moving song. I love the verses, and this has some great melodies, and the chorus is pretty good. Another pretty predictable song, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this has some excellent songwriting.

"Middle of Hell"- A drum beat opens up this rather unmemorable song. Despite a pretty good guitar solo, there is nothing here that really stands out. Of course it's every bit as predictable as the earlier songs, but this doesn't have the excellent riffs and melodies the other ones have.

"If I Were King"- By about now the album starts to get boring. I'm not going to lie, but there are a few good songs near the beginning and end, but the middle is pure filler. I kind of like the verses here, but this song is very formulaic, and by about now I'm waiting for something unexpected to happen. Unfortunately, this song doesn't respond to my requests.

"Man Down!"- The verses are painfully annoying. They're clearly trying to relive their glory days in the late 80's and early 90's, but it isn't working out. I like the chorus though, and it has a nice contrast between the guitar riff and vocals. Not a terrible song, but it could have been a lot better.

"Remember Me"- What a change over the past few songs! The last three songs on this album are all the highlights, and this is when the album really begins. A moody verse, and beautiful chorus make this song very good. Of course, it still is verse-chorus-verse, but it is a very solid composition.

"Home Again"- This is my personal favorite song on the album. This portrays the feeling of a father at war exchanging letters with his daughter. The duet between Geoff Tate and his daughter Emily fits the mood of this beautiful song perfectly. If more of the album had been like this I swear I would have given it a 5. It is definitely worth hearing this song at all costs, though.

"The Voice"- After the excellent previous song, Queensr che follows it up with another highlight of the album. I absolutely love the riffs on this song, and I think Geoff Tate does an excellent job vocally. Again, I can't help but see the excellence in this song that isn't present on the rest of the album. The excellent ending gets me every time.

Conclusion:

American Soldier has a lot of potential. The last 3 songs are pure gold, but a good amount of the album is forgettable. If Queensr che would have made this a shorter album, or put more great material here, this would be one of the best 2009 albums. Unfortunately, that isn't true. However, this album is worth hearing for any Queensr che fan, or anyone who's looking for some pretty good prog metal. Nothing here brings anything new to the genre, but for people looking to play it safe with a very professional and high-quality band, American Soldier may be for you.

3 stars.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#251824)
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
2 stars First of all, it is an admirable thing for a band to write an entire album in tribute of those in the armed forces. But in these times, with the United States involved is wars of dubious nature, design by an administration of questionable moral, the whole thing comes off as pandering. Not quite like a Toby Keith level of pandering, but pandering nonetheless.

And like most Queensryche albums, I fail to find much prog in any of the music. Sure, the use sound effects, like a mini Pink Floyd, but the music itself is just hard arena rock. Not bad arena rock, but not prog.

2.5 stars, rounded down.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#260259)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the return to form with Operation: Mindcrime II (2006), Queensr che challenge themselves with yet another elaborate concept album in American Soldier. The concept doesn't follow a scripted story instead describing the stories of those who have served under the US Army from WW2 to the present day wars in the middle-east. In some ways this was the make-or-break album of their later career. A string of poorly received albums was broken with the sequel to their original conceptual masterpiece and this album would prove if they could continue to get back on track.

The 'Hey' and 'What's Up' shouts of Sliver alarmed me at first, had Queensr che gone hip- hop? Thankfully not, the opener is a brief yet powerful rock track that immediately is musically and lyrically superior to anything on Operation: Mindcrime II. The production has also notably improved; the lack of reverb on the previous release has been corrected giving the music space to breath. Tate's vocals are remarkably powerful with the gradual rise in pitch during the end of the second verse being truly electrifying. Unafraid includes a basic chorus and riff, but the job of this track is to allow space for the soldiers who were there to speak out. Throughout the album the soldiers themselves are heard providing their personal experiences and feelings towards serving in war, a touch that is one of the key aspects that makes this album so special. Queensr che take no shortcuts in aiming to provide a record that best represents the bravery of the armed forces whilst paying tribute to them.

Hundred Mile Stare is powerful mid-paced rock number with At 30,000 Feet following the same style. A Dead Man's Words picks up the pace, an eerie eastern riff circles below the layers of atmospherics before an Alice in Chains-style chorus kicks in. The track progresses smoothly through classy riffs, dramatic overdubs and a chilling saxophone solo ? a clear standout. The Killer is another solid tune that describes a Viet Nam veteran's return home who has to deal with accusations of being a 'baby killer', just one of the strong emotional themes presented through the music on American Soldier.

Middle of Hell maintains the inspired notions of the first half, the saxophone returning and soloing along side Wilton, thus providing a Pink Floyd feel amongst the layers of chiming guitars and echoing vocal harmonies. A soldier's account of witnessing the loss his fallen comrade opens If I Were King. The track however develops into being rather upbeat, this style continues with Man Down! and helps the album become an enjoyable listen as opposed to a miserable and depressing venture such as Pink Floyd's The Final Cut which musically has been a great influence on Queensr che's sound through the years.

Two ballads follow, Remember Me and Home Again. Both prove to be very powerful, the latter including a performance from Tate's young daughter. Themes of the soldier-child relationship are explored, 'when I come back are they gonna think that I'm some kind of monster?' is projected during Remember Me where Home Again describes the future reuniting of the family with the struggles of holding it together during the stressful time apart. The Voice rounds things off nicely with another moderately paced and upbeat rock number, although the record may have been better ending on a more solemn note.

Queensr che choose to go the slow and thoughtful route of song-writing for the most part of this album, some more heavy tunes in the vein of Sliver would have made this even better, but maybe that's not what this record's all about. Discussing a delicate matter on such a large scale was ambitious, yet it has been achieved in great style, something not done this well since Roger Waters' Amused to Death in 1992. With an hour's worth of brilliant atmospheric and inspiring music, Queensr che deliver their best album in over twenty years.

Rating: [9]

TTT:

1) Sliver 2) A Dead Man's Words 3) Unafraid

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Send comments to dalekvilla (BETA) | Report this review (#260851)
Posted Thursday, January 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars When I heard that Queensyrche was making new album (and a concept album), I was a wee bit sceptical, because I had heard not so joyous praise for their last conceptual outburst, a not really needed sequel to Operation : Mindcrime.

But the concept seemed a wee bit interesting. When it comes to war with me, I think it is the most useless form of dealing with international problems and is the weakest and most futile stain from humanity.

But the concept of the album isn't that bad, being based around a soldier who pretends to not really be affected by any of the hardships of war, but slowly they creep on him, until he dies basically.

The songs are okay, but to be honest at times are quite bland, annoying or some of Geoff's vocals are a wee bit pitchy. Geoff still has quite a good voice, but he needs to accept the fact that he can't sings as well as he used to.

1. Sliver - This would be a great song if that annoying rap like bit wasn't in it. Now don't get me wrong, I like rap, but it should be kept within it's own boundaries. The vocals are pitchy at times.

2. Unafraid - The riff in this song does kick major ass. I love the use of audio samples.

3. Hundred Mile Stare - I like the alterative sound of this song, reminds me of Cog. Again the vocals are a wee bit pitchy.

4. At 30,000 Ft - Very dramatic with some nice twists and turns. The tonal shifts are quite cool.

5. A Dead Man's Words - In every bands career they will use an Arabic sounding riff. Good song. The lyrics are quite graphic.

6. The Killer - Pretty cool chorus. Quite catchy.

7. Middle Of Hell ? Quite calm for such an eccentric title. A wee bit bland to be honest.

8. If I Were King - The metaphor used confuses me. "If I Were King, I Would END THE WAR!!!" Quite cheesy but it's still good.

9. Man Down! - The use of another Arabic riff. The chorus is quite interesting. Love the line, "Never thought I'd bring the war back home."

10. Remember Me - Good chorus. Very calm & quite sad.

11. Home Again - A nice ballad. I know that the reason Geoff's daughter is in this song is to mirror a father/daughter relationship, but she's not the greatest singer to be honest.

12. The Voice - Okay ending. Pretty ambiguous.

CONCLUSION: It's an okay album; it at times is a wee bit bland. For Queensyrche fans only, really.

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Send comments to arcane-beautiful (BETA) | Report this review (#279437)
Posted Monday, April 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars I honestly considered buying this album as I thought that the concept sounded interesting and as I really liked the first single and intense ballad "If I Were King". It was a true shock to me to see so many negative reviews on that side then, so I decided to listen to the entire album before purchasing it as I wasn't quite sure about buying it anymore. I finally expected the worst and the beginning of the album is indeed horrible. But later on, I discovered a couple of hidden gems so that my final rating isn't that negative.

Let's talk about the songs right now. The first two tracks are amongst the worst ones the band has ever written in almost thirty years. "Sliver" is a rap rock track with weak lyrics and probably the worst song Queensr che have ever written. It's sure that such a bad opener influences a lot the general atmosphere and first impression of an album and they did the worst choice here. This song is too be avoided at all costs, there is nothing profound, intelligent or original about this track. "Unafraid" is not much better, the lyrics are even worse and the song is entirely composed of interview citations of veterans that have such an awful sound quality that it sounds like if someone was farting underwater. The chorus is dumb and boring, the music one dimensional and bad. Maybe this track is the second worst track Queensr che have ever written. Until now, the album isn't worth one single point.

The next three songs are good average tracks. "Hundred Mile Stare" turns the page then and is a classic melodic Queensr che rocker. The first two minutes of the track are enjoyable, the last minutes seem endless and annoying and repeat always the same patterns but though this song is finally mediocre, it is way much better than the first two songs. "At 30,000 ft" is the first really good song on the record. It begins with a beautiful melody and an interesting drumming. The tune begins as an enjoyable ballad with a truly energetic and passionate vocal performance before exotic guitar riffs and sound effects create a surprising and finally very progressive middle part. "A Dead Man's Words" is a rather modern, dark and haunting piece of music and has slightly Industrial Metal and Asian folk influences. The vocal performance is slow and underlined by strange sound effects. This mixture seems to be strange but the song is a great experience and gets really hypnotizing even though there are maybe two minutes of boredom towards the middle part of the track. The ending of the song is worth the patience and one of the most beautiful and memorable parts of the entire album.

The next two songs are quite mediocre songs. "The Killer" begins as a melodic and very harmonic song with classical band trademarks such as a very dramatic vocal performance and great tribal drums as well as memorable guitar leads. But the whole effort is destroyed by a mall core main riff and an extremely silly chorus. "Middle Of Nowhere" starts with a soft drumming and develops a haunting atmosphere with a good guitar riff. But after a promising beginning, the song doesn't evolve and gets very long and annoying.

Now, there are still the best songs to come on this record. "If I Were King" is a brilliant ballad and especially brilliantly sung. It's a rather traditional but highly emotional song and the spoken word passages fit in here which isn't the case for many of the songs on this record. "Man Down!" is the second single of the album after the previous ballad and one easily understands why because the dark and heavy riffs are catchy and probably the best musical parts of the album and vocal performance is very melodic. "Remember Me" kicks off with a beautiful and dreamy guitar play and is a very harmonic and beautiful performance. This song is easily amongst the best songs on the album and keeps the level high. "Home Again" has a mystical and haunting introduction. Acoustic guitars underline the brilliant father meets daughter vocal performances by Geoff Tate and his daughter and this turns out to be one of the most interesting and authentic songs on the record, a truly well done experiment. The final "The Voice" is a very atmospheric introduction with sirens, thunder and spoken word passages before the real songs kicks off with exotic oriental guitar riffs. This final highlight is one of the most haunting tracks on the record and a pleasant grande finale that i didn't expect after the weak beginning of the album.

So, this album is somehow divided and two parts and not quite consistent. It starts in the worst possible manner before there are many enjoyable, diversified and emotional songs towards the end. When the band tries to get a personal approach to the songs and doesn't put the citations and sound samples at the center of the attention, this album works really well but as they often let different people tell to many details and hesitate to give a personal and artistically touch to the record, the band somewhat loses it and doesn't succeed its mission in the end. But honestly said, the last five tracks of the album are beautiful progressive rock or melodic metal gems that any fan should like if we don't consider the main topic's boundaries with the superficial lyrics and horrible sound samples. In the end, this is still an enjoyable though not great album, somewhat like the second part of "Operation:Mindcrime" that has been a good album in general, but a disappointment in the historical context to the band's greatest effort. So, I may give you and advice: Ignore the concept, skip the first tracks filled with underwater fart poetry and enjoy the bubbles of genius in the last five tunes or so of "American Soldier".

Originally published on www.metal-archives.com on February 13th of the year 2011.

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Send comments to kluseba (BETA) | Report this review (#499345)
Posted Sunday, August 07, 2011 | Review Permalink

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