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Queensr˙che - Promised Land CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.97 | 381 ratings

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4 stars Best of Post-Mindcrime Queensryche

Queensryche was "my" band. I walked around high school in my Mindcrime shirt when basically no one else knew who they were. I learned "Queen of the Reich" on guitar as one of the first metal songs my fingers explored. I bought "Empire" on midnight when it was released, and played it hundreds of times, but had always been a little let down. So when Promised Land finally came, I didn't know what to expect.

The album begins very well. The opening track (9:28) is an ambient, sound-effect laden piece that foreshadows the Pink Floyd-ian vision that singer Geoff Tate will take. It leads into the first single, I am I, which is an intense, pulsatile, weaving piece in 3 that is unlike anything Queensryche had done before. At the time, it was almost a little too much for me, and was certainly a very risky song to lead an album and release as a single. We are given a little break as the next song, Damaged, opens with a very typical Queensryche feel before hitting it's low palm-muted main riff. Again, a new sound, perhaps the group's heaviest at that time, backed up by the nasty multi-tracked low vocal bridge "Mother Mary in Control, Domineering Stranglehold." The chorus, like the intro, is stock Queensryche, but gave a little break in the intensity.

As track 4, Out of Mind, begins with a stutter-step acoustic lead in, it seems as if the album is going to stay adventurous and fresh throughout. Unfortunately, like the song before, the band drops back into one of their standard feels, though punctuated with interesting moments. This becomes the recurring theme of the album. Interesting instrumental passages, new instrumentation such as piano and sax, and strong Tate vocals abound here but the band continues to grab and then lose your full attention.

Track 5 is where things start to get a little iffy. Though framed from an interesting viewpoint (the adult child who has grown past a bad relationship with his father), the song (Bridge) is still a bit too much like psychobabble for me. Track 9 (My Global Mind), a musically very strong piece, lyrically is more talking at the listener rather than telling a story. Tate's philosophizing has always been over-the-top, but where on Mindcrime it makes for a great noir rock opera, here it seems preachy.

On the title track, Tate turns the scathing eye on himself, and it works better. Perhaps the darkest piece in a very dark library, Promised Land introduces sax, film soundtrack-like dynamics and more heaviness. As others have noted, it evokes Roger Waters or even solo Peter Gabriel, a mood piece about the ravages of success. The theme continues on the funk-riff fueled Disconnected, which has always seemed a little out of place to me. Lady Jane and the ender Someone Else complete the slow ebb this album takes into a Geoff Tate solo work. Both strong piano driven songs, each gives an emotionally charged vocal performance. They are good pieces. They just aren't Queensryche anymore.

Fortunately, before Geoff sings us into the sunset of the band's career, we are left with the very strong One More Time. Indeed, for one last time, we get icy harmony guitars, low spooky vocals, and the intensity that made me love this band. It foreshadows prog metal heirs Pain of Salvation, who will take the daring of this band even further past the precipice.

When I go back to Queensryche's catalog now, there are only two albums I listen to, Mindcrime and this one. Along with a number of select early tracks, these form the canon of the band. Though certainly uneven, Promised Land showcases Queensryche at their most broadly adventurous, Geoff Tate closer to channeling Roger Waters rather than Bruce Dickinson, and approaches essential status at least within its sub-genre of prog metal.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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