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Queensr che - Queensr che  CD (album) cover


Queensr che

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4 stars This is a record that comes with a lot of baggage. Its sort of a difficult record to talk about without mentioning all the behind-the-scenes events that surrounded its creation and release. How do you even describe it? Is it Queensr'che's twelfth or thirteenth full-length studio album (discounting covers-albums)? I mean, some people would say its not even a Queensr'che album at all yet, until a court case is settled.

I'm sure most people reading this will be familiar with the album's back-story, but for those who aren't, I'll add a quick overview. Queensr'che started out in the early eighties as a fairly heavy, slightly progressive Metal band from Seattle with a melodic commercial sheen. Their singer Geoff Tate was one of the most immensely talented vocalists in the genre and influenced many Power Metal and Progressive Metal singers over the years. For about a decade the band released a string of seminal records that never sounded anything like what the band had did before, save for the identifiable 'feel' of the musicians involved and the general attitude of being a bit clever, without being bloated or pretentious. The band were all about evolution.

In the mid-nineties and onwards the general fan reaction was that the experiments and changes weren't as exciting, and the band released a few albums that lost them a lot of fans, especially after the brilliant Chris DeGarmo left the band. After this Geoff and his family allegedly slowly took over the band, working with outside writers and session musicians, doing things fans found distasteful and releasing a few very unpopular records, as a lot of fans no-longer approved of the bands spirit of evolution, or indeed felt that their music had become ironically generic. There were also allegations that Geoff spat at fellow band members, threatened them, possibly with a knife, and there is video documentation online of him insulting his own audience. This sort of behaviour caused a lot of fans to lose interest in Geoff and become openly hostile towards him. A lot of people had slowly forgotten about Queensr'che after the nineties and now they were reminded of them, but in the least opportune way.

The rest of the band eventually started a side project called Rising West, passionately playing the material from Queensr'che's more popular first decade or so, with a new singer called Todd La Torre, who had previously been working with Crimson Glory, a band who's early work was a bit similar to Queensr'che's early work. He had a voice very suited to covering Queensr'che songs. Eventually this band just decided to call themselves Queensr'che and so ousted Tate from the band causing a lot of fuss online and in the press. They recorded this album, which they have simply entitled Queensr'che. It was produced by Jim Barton who had worked as Mixer and Engineer on two of the fan's favourite Queensr'che albums: Operation Mindcrime and Empire, as well as co-producing the superb, moody and progressive Promised Land album.

Geoff however also made an album under the name of Queensr'che with associates, friends and contempories from the Thrash and Glam Metal scene as well as numerous guest appearances, and managed to release it first. Its bonus tracks featured re-recorded updates of songs from Operation Mindcrime and Empire that were the source of considerable criticism online. In fact the whole record received something of a critical attack. There is now a controversial and often hostile split between a vocal minority of fans of each version of Queensr'che, and as such each of these two records are controversial, and there are people who are going to hate both of them no matter what they actually sound like. Just remember Guns N Roses' Chinese Democracy album; people couldn't wait to call it a disappointment due to the circumstances that surrounded its creation and release. It seems now that both versions of Queensr'che have found themselves in that same unpleasant situation, by fans who have either 'taken a side' or indeed taken a dislike of Queensr'che altogether, and disapprove of their overhyped difficulties and very public feud.

In fact, although it is certainly very strong at the moment, this isn't really all that new a position that the band have found themselves in; people have been queing up to hate new Queensr'che albums ever since Chris DeGarmo left, and just because this album has a different singer, that still mightn't affect those people from hating anything without Chris on it.

Ultimately, due to all the circumstances surrounding this controversial record, and this band with an unusually fractioned, compartmentalized and vocal fan-base it could well turn out that this record receives the same unfair treatment and blind criticism as the Geoff-version's Frequency Unknown album or the last two decade's worth of Queensr'che albums along with it. Sure, reasonable people may have disliked them because they actually did dislike them, but equally it cannot be denied that some people chose to dislike them for fun, for non-musical reasons or simply because it was the thing to do.

Luckily for the version of the band with Todd La Torre, their record is actually very good. Very good indeed. Not so amazing that it makes a brilliant story of triumph over adversity and wins back every lost fan ever, but very good nonetheless. So even if a lot of people hysterically slate this album, the band can at least be proud of having made a high quality record that's just misunderstood, and if the album gets sycophantically praised-to-death just because people dislike Geoff, at least this record has the tunes to back it up.

In summary, the good news for fans who are willing to look past all the surrounding story and just check out the record, is that the record is actually one worth having checked out. For those actually inclined to like the album as long as the music and songwriting is actually any good, this self-titled Queensr'che album is no disappointment. The album is a succinct, and well crafted collection of enjoyable, mildly progressive, fairly heavy Hard Rock and Heavy Metal songs, that isn't overloaded with too many ballads, or weighed down by uncomfortable lyrics, questionable themes or over-sentimentality. Its just well written, good music, with some fairly memorable choruses, melodic guitar solos, and a lot more bite and energy than on the less popular Queensr'che albums. Basically, its given the fans what they've been asking for: Passionate performances and high quality music that sounds like Queensr'che wrote it.

Granted, if you disapprove of any Queensr'che record not featuring Geoff Tate (or Chris DeGarmo) then you're never going to like it, and additionally if you disapprove of Todd La Torre having a really, really similar voice to Geoff instead of taking the band in a very different direction (like how Dio changed Black Sabbath) then you are never going to like the album.

Also, if you only like the band's earliest sound, while this is certainly a return to that spirit, its not necessarily a wholesale return to its actual sound all the way through. No matter how much you may hope, it isn't a rehash of old glories, so don't expect it to sound much like Rage For Order or Warning other than in a few riffs here and there, or in how busy the drum work is. Furthermore for those who actually liked some (or a lot) of the band's later day output, unlike what you may expect based on the band's live setlists, this album does not completely abandon every innovation or development that the band made after 1994 either.

What this record does is mix the whole Queensr'che back catalogue and it does it in an energetic, tight and well crafted manner. It is not boring, generic, or flabby. It sounds like a mixture of the spirit of the early days, with several of its sonic Queensr'che signatures like the dynamic structures, dual guitar interplay and occasional trad-metal riffs, with the overall sound of the best examples of the band's modern sound (as opposed to the filler). Its got a lot of that power, harmony and flair from the early days, in a sort of Alternative Metal influenced shell like the modern stuff. It's a mixture that works, and they're songs that are actually good. Imagine the best stuff from Operation Mindcrime II, with the drums from Warning, and the vocals from Empire. Stylistically, that's a ballpark direction for this album.

I'll admit I was probably a little predetermined to like this album anyway since I just love Queensr'che so much, but this album was no chore to become slowly accustomed to, no poor album to pretend to like just for its story and no failure to live up to the hype, it was an instantly enjoyable affirmation of everything I liked about the band and a relief that this Todd project was not just all hype with no real substance. Realistically, it could have turned out that neither new Queensr'che version actually had any good songs in the bag, and so then the band as a whole just collapsed under the stress of this difficult time. Thankfully, this is the album that Queensr'che, any Queensr'che, should be making. One that feels like they mean it.

The music is packed with neat little intricacies and memorable moments. I can't wait to see these songs live, or hear what the next album is like. Listen to the pre-chorus in 'Fallout,' or the bit in 'Where Dreams Go To Die' where the music cuts out and Todd screams 'With God As My Witness' 'or the main riff in 'Don't Look Back.' Just great little moments that are better than the sum of their parts. Check out the opening drums to 'Vindication' or just all of the slightly eastern-tinged 'Spore' in general. 'Spore' is kind of what the band tried to do on Tribe, but with that extra 'umph.' Its that 'umph' that makes or breaks albums, you can have a great formula but no 'umph' and you still end up with a dull record. This record isn't dull.

As long as you aren't preprogrammed to hate it regardless of what it actually sounds like, the passion, energy and quality of this album should win you over. Sure, its not the best thing ever released under the Queensr'che name, but it's not just passable either, its a damn good album for Queensr'che in 2013. Again, being realistic Parker Lundgren will never make fans forget about Chris DeGarmo, but he fits in the band better here than on the last two albums for sure. In fact even original drummer original Scott Rockenfeild plays better here than he has since the eighties. Its like the whole band just sound revitalized and 'on it.' That's all large part of why I like this album.

At the end of the day, it would have been nice if either the band had worked out their differences and made an album this good anyway, or if at least one version was called something else. Accept for example, started a revitalized career with a new singer without Udo causing any of these problems, why couldn't Queensr'che? Max Cavelera didn't decide that the band which would become Soulfly was in fact also called Sepultura. Its a slight shame things couldn't have been handled in a more gentlemanly way, but as fans of music we really shouldn't let what is essentially office politics affect our enjoyment of the art. I would advise that you don't blindly love or hate this record just because you've 'taken a side.' Try it out, see if its for you, and judge it on its own musical merits. Sure, judge it against your own preferences for genre, how the vocals suit or don't suit you, and what you usually think a good production job sounds like, but at the end of the day, do you like the songs?

I do. I like them all. I like most of them a hell of a lot. I recommend you check it out.

**Oh, and if you found this review by search engine, when you discover it again on Amazon it is me posting it. It hasn't been copied and pasted off here by a stranger, I post my reviews on Amazon as 'Gentlegiantprog 'Kingcrimsonprog.'' So please don't unhelpful-vote it because you thought it was stolen from me.**

Report this review (#989624)
Posted Sunday, June 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Right, I did not dislike Tate's "Frequency Unknown" album and believe that it was very unfairly received by the public. What do I think of this Tateless iteration of the band with this new release?

"X 2" - A dramatic short album opener that bodes well for the rest of the album.

"Where Dreams go to Die" - pretty standard metal fare. LaTorre sounds very similar to Tate and if I didn't know any better I would swear that it was Tate. There is no mistaking the Queensryche sound here.

"Spore" - well performed however it just doesn't grab me. I'm missing the really sharp Queensryche sound of old.

"In this Light" - Better than the previous two tracks but again nothing here grabs me by the cheeks and shakes my head enough to rattle the old grey matter. It's by the numbers what I would expect Queensryche to sound like but without the break into a sweat inducing brilliance of the first five or so Queensryche albums.

"Redemption" - I am almost reminded of a heavier version of Journey here.

"Vindication" - At this point I'm looking for a softer Queensryche track to change the mood for a while. Hard Rocker that doesn't do much for me at all.

"Midnight Lullaby" - Very short mood inducer that kind of serves as an introduction to the the next track.

"A World Without'" - The change of mood that I was looking for but nothing as powerful as I'd hoped for.

"Don't look Back" - Kind of like a Judas Priest rocker.

"Fallout" - OK rockout track.

"Open Road" - Like "A World Without", a slower more emotive track. Brings the album to a close.

So, my thoughts? Well for one I preferred the Tate album by more than a country mile. I find this ok but pretty standard fare without any hair raising moments of brilliance. I absolutely loved the Queensryche sound up until and including the "Empire" album - I would go so far as to say that I was a most definate "fanboy" of the band up until then. My candid opinion is that the reception of both albums by the public was "politically" distorted in the drama that ensued with Tate leaving the band and in the way that things transpired leading up to and after that fact. The Tate album is actually way way better to my own way of thinking. At least the Tate album is musically interesting whereas the Queensryche album is just an album that I probably wont be listening to again after the two full listens I gave it for this review. If I spool up the Queensryche album after listening to Judas Priest or Symphony X then it leaves me totally cold in that there is nothing special throughout that album that contras what I was listening to before. The Tate album has some very interesting musical ideas that makes the listen a pleasure. "In the Hands of God" from the Tate album leaves anything on the Queensryche album standing in the dust and that's one track. A very serious 2 star rating for the Queensryche album where I'm of a good mind to up the Tate review that I did to a 4 star rating as that is what it is compared to this.

Report this review (#992517)
Posted Saturday, July 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars For those who are unaware, we are currently in the 'interesting' situation of having two bands using the same name, at least until a further court case to settle the dispute, which is due to take place in November. In April 2012 there was a backstage altercation at a show in Sao Paulo, Brazil, between original members drummer Scott Rockenfield, guitarist Michael Wilton and bassist Eddie Jackson with singer Geoff Tate. The band then fired Tate, who took them to court and there have been a few court appearances since then. Tate has released a solo album (which I reviewed with comments such as "There are little or no redeeming features to this album") and an album as Queensryche Starring Geoff Tate The Original Voice, so now it is time for the 'other' band to release something. There is an argument that Scott, Michael and Eddie are the 'true' Queensryche as they had already formed a band and asked Geoff to join, but Geoff has for many been the face as well as the voice of the band, so how to replace him?

This version of Queensryche has been completed by singer Todd La Torre of Florida band Crimson Glory, and guitarist Parker Lundgren, who joined the band in 2009 before the split. I wasn't sure what to expect when I put this on as not only is Tate an incredible singer, but the last album of theirs that I really listened to was 'Tribe' and I didn't think a great deal of it at all. So, was this going to be a painful experience or something that would lift them back up to the heights of 'Mindcrime'? Well, it was never really going to be the latter was it, but what we have here is an album of power and depth, something that made me smile the very first time I played it, and the only thing to do then was just put it on repeat.

It starts slow, with an atmospheric introduction, but it soon grabs the listener and the result is something that is dramatic and powerful, with progressive elements combined with the melodic metal. It is dark, it is brooding, and is the best thing this band have done for years. There is a quality that just pervades this album, it is in every song, and really the only negative about it is that it is quote short in length. It is only 35 minutes long, which is just like being in the old days, but that was when bands were restricted by vinyl so it is certainly unusual in the digital age.

However, what we have here is of the highest quality and it is highly recommended.

Report this review (#1005498)
Posted Friday, July 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have been a Ryche fan since the EP came out 30 yrs ago ( I was 21) they are amongst by top 5 favorite bands ( The others being Priest, Maiden, Sabbath & Led Zeppelin) When I heard that Queensryche was coming out with another album I was praying for something decent, since the last few albums have really not grabbed me at all, I heard some of Tates Queensryche music and was totally turned off. ( plus him being a jerk now). But then when I heard the samples first coming out of this new album there was a energy I havent heard from the band since the late 80's! Todd has givin the band the boost it needed to keep the music alive I heard pieces of Mindcrime and Empire and even a little Warning! Now we are talking! then when they streamed the entire album for the fans I was blown away! They are back! I understand there will always be fans of Tate ( I have been since the beginning and his one of my vocal mentors), but the realization that his vision was on a different path that the rest of the band and you can hear it on this album, the fans have been screaming for some of those classic QRyche sounds and I must say it's on this album! So give it a chance, I think you will enjoy the hell out of it ( I am)!! I can say I am wearing my Tri-Ryche tattoo with pride now! Some of my faves on this album are:

Spore In This Light A World Without Don't Look Back Open Road

Report this review (#1053592)
Posted Friday, October 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Queensr che" is the self-titled 13th full-length studio album by US metal/progressive metal act Queensr che. The album was released through Century Media Records in June 2013. The standard version of the album features 11 tracks, while the limited edition features 3 bonus tracks, which are live versions of classic Queensr che songs. "Queensr che" is a key album in the band┤s discography as it┤s the first Queensr che release not to feature original lead vocalist Geoff Tate who was replaced by Todd La Torre before the writing and recording of the album. Tate was fired from the band and in the wake of that a lot of nasty accusations flew from both camps and a legal dispute over the ownership of the Queensr che name is presently being dealt with. Until that dispute is over, this version of the band has opted to continue under the Queensr che monicker while Geoff Tate has opted to continue with hired guns under the Queensr che Starring Geoff Tate the Original Voice monicker.

"Dedicated To Chaos (2011)" was quite the disappointment for the majority of the band┤s fans and it sold relatively poorly compared to earlier efforts by the band. Compared to that album, and actually compared to any album released between "Promised Land (1994)" and this album, "Queensr che" is an improvement and a welcome return to a more heavy metal oriented sound. It┤s not exactly a new "Operation: Mindcrime (1988)", but stylistically I guess it┤s somewhere between the semi-progressive heavy metal of the early releases by the band and the more mainstream heavy metal of "Empire (1990)". The prominent use of harmony guitars is one of the first things that I noticed was different from the band┤s post "Promised Land (1994)" period, but there are several other elements in the music that points in the direction of the "classic" Queensr che sound, and not the more alternative/mainstream sound that the band adopted after "Promised Land (1994)".

New lead vocalist Todd La Torre has a voice and singing style that are very similar to the voice and singing style of Geoff Tate, so in that respect there hasn┤t been a significant change in the band┤s sound, which was what you would normally expect when a band changes lead vocalist. The musicianship is generally, and not surprisingly, on a very high level. The change on the lead vocalist spot seems to have revitalized the rest of the band and they sound both tight and fresh. Especially drummer Scott Rockenfield delivers a very convincing performance. It┤s like he has been waiting for an opportunity to "let loose" after playing in a more restrained style for a number of years. The fact that all members of the band have contributed to the songwriting probably also helped ignite all member┤s interest in the project as opposed to using outside writers like Queensr che have done for now a number of albums.

The album is well produced and the sound production manages to successfully bring out the more hard edged qualities as well as the more polished elements of the band┤s sound. Upon conclusion it┤s fair to say that "Queensr che" is a bit of a comeback for Queensr che. It┤s a well thought out and well written album delivered with passion, which certainly can┤t be said about "Frequency Unknown (2013)" by Queensr che Starring Geoff Tate the Original Voice. This version of Queensr che have won the first round and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#1057832)
Posted Thursday, October 10, 2013 | Review Permalink

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