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Queensr˙che - Hear In The Now Frontier CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

2.53 | 206 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars Of all the possible musical directions QUEENSRYCHE could have taken on their sixth studio album HEAR IN THE NOW FRONTIER from the previous album "Promised Land," no one could have predicted that they would leave all those experimental meanderings behind to try something completely new. Well, new to them anyways. The musical world had changed drastically in the early 90s and moderately progressive melodic metal just wasn't the cat's meow any longer. The band went the way of many 80s bands trying to sally forth into a strange new musical landscape by stripping down their sound to fit in with the explosion of grunge and alternative rock. Ironically the band who emerged from Seattle was being upstaged by a whole new breed of angry rockers from their very own turf. For this release they even managed to record the album in the home studio of Stone Gossard from Pearl Jam and then it was mixed by Toby Wright who had helped Alice In Chains make it big. The result of this radical direction change was not one that pleased a skeptical fan base who thought they knew what their favorite band sounded like, but now they weren't so sure.

Upon first listen I was as disgusted by this album as anyone else. I mean who would have thunk this? QUEENSRYCHE? Famous for rock operas and sophisti-metal doing grunge? Oh gimme a break! Well, I wrote this album off for many years but I have been giving it a spin and re-evaluating it and I have to say that it's not as bad as my first impressions made it out to be. True, it will hardly go down as their crowning achievement but once again they do manage to deliver extremely well written melodic performances albeit stripped down. They definitely prove here that they have the basic skills of songwriting down pat and no further embellishment is necessary. OK, point well taken. I can get on board with their bold and brash ability to constantly reinvent themselves. I love bands that do just that. So what's holding me back from liking this more?

I have to say I think the problem stems not from the fact that they did a complete left turn to create a new sound. That is not the issue here at all. I think the problem lies in the fact that they are simply overqualified as musicians to be doing this kind of less demanding stuff. Geoff Tate's operatic vocal ability over the simpler riffing and song structure is as surreal as the ear-covered desolate landscape gracing the album cover and liner notes. This album is tantamount to the London Symphony Orchestra playing nursery rhymes at a kid's birthday party or Yes doing a full performance of "Close To The Edge" only reggae style at a flea market. There are actually a few songs here I really like. I totally dig "Sign Of The Times," "Hit The Black," "Anytime / Anywhere" and "spOOL." No individual tracks are bad but the album is a bit samey and lacks enough diverse elements to justify the nearly 60 minute experience. It's true that if this WAS a Pearl Jam or Nivana album, it would be fantastic but this is QUEENSRYCHE. Everybody expected more. OK. I'm down with experimentation and all and I give this one a passing grade, it's just not an album I find myself wanting to hear very often. I always go back to the albums that came before.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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