QUEENSRYCHE

"Condition Human" (Century Media; 2015)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Queensryche are back with their second album since Todd La Torre has taken over vocal duties, and I think sounding more like Geoff Tate than Geoff Tate, but stamping his own style of vocals all over this pressing. All crinkled noses aside, this is the album that has moved them in a new direction but also one that has kept them on the same path of great music: great vocals and the survival of the Ryche!

I've always been a fan of Queensryche. Their music was above and beyond anything I'd heard in a long time. This disc deepens their roots of heavy metal and with Todd La Torre giving them a fresh sound, a heavier sound, they've come back and given the fans what they really wanted: more music that captures a time when heavy metal had the vocals, the solos and the grit to get you in a groove.

There are fifteen tracks on "Condition Human" and three more if you snag the deluxe edition; over an hour of music that's top notch. I feel that this disc is heavier than other Queensryche offerings, maybe because the band thinks they've got something to prove or disprove, I'm not sure. Either way this feels like a new sound and since music has to change with the times it's great that this band has a solid sound that they can improve upon.

I'm glad that bands I admire are still making music. Queensryche are still here and I don't think they are ever going to quit making great heavy metal. So saddle up with a new lead singer and enjoy the show.

Queensryche: Todd La Torre - lead vocals; Scott Rockenfield - drums; Eddie Jackson - bass guitar, vocals; Michael Wilton - lead and rhythm guitars; Parker Lundgren - lead and rhythm guitars.

For more information - http://www.queensrycheofficial.com.

"Queensyrche" (Century Media; 2013)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I have to admit that I joined the Queensryche bandwagon late in the game but, now that I'm here, I think they are one best bands around, despite all their bandmember drama.

Now with their latest release, aptly entitled "Queensryche," the band delivers a power-packed rock'n'roll release that rivals anything out there. With their signature late 80s sound fully on display, Queensryche once again shows the world they are in this for the long run as they have proven time and time over the past thirty years.

This, of course, is the band's new lineup featuring Todd La Torre on vocals, Michael Wilton on guitars, Parker Lundgren on guitars, Eddie Jackson on bass and Scott Rockenfield on drums. Geoff Tate's version of the band released their new album, "Frequency Unknown," earlier this year.

One thing in particular I love about "Queensryche" is the album's storyline. It is deep and involving and would rival any movie Hollywood has every put out. It's a little complicated -- I've listened to this recording three times, going on four, and I still do not know what it is about -- but that's one of the best things about this CD.

For more information, check out http://www.queensrycheofficial.com.

"Empire (20th Anniversary Edition)" (Capitol/EMI; 2010)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

There's not much I can say about Queensyche's classic 1990 album "Empire" that hasn't been said before. Suffice to say this is the album that put the band on the map, not only for the #1 hit single "Silent Lucidity" but as a band who could deliver solid concept albums. That was twenty years ago and they're still at it today.

But what sets this 20th Anniversary Edition apart from the original release is the bonuses included. First off, included is the original album, of course, remastered and sounding damn good. There are three bonus tracks on this disc as well, including a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's classic "Scarborough Fair," which works surprisingly well here.

Also included is a second, previously unreleased disc featuring ten tracks recorded live in November 1990 at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon in London. It might have been better if the live CD included the "Empire" album in its entirety, but it's a pretty good selection of Queensyrche songs and the band sounds great.

But, wait ... as they say on late night television commercials ... there's more.

The 2CD set is housed in a lift-top box with five postcards, a fold-out poster and a booklet featuring rare photos from the band's personal archive. And it all looks gorgeous.

So, if you're looking to replace your worn out cassette or CD of this classic album, an album you'll know you'll listen to again and again and again and again, this would be the one to replace it with. It's a little pricey but worth the extra money.

For more information, check out http://www.queensryche.com

"American Soldier" (Atco; 2009)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Geoff Tate and company return after a three year break from "Operation Mindcrime II" and release "American Soldier." I have always seen Queensryche as a political band but never an overpowering one; their messages were always light but direct. This disc was a collection of stories gathered by lead singer Geoff Tate over a two year period. Queensryche has always been a supporter of the troops and the sacrifices they make for America's freedoms.

This CD is not in the same vein as their others in that the songs are about other people. They're real life stories that only a member of the armed forces could tell. Commercially, this disc is a rest stop compared to their other releases; the songs are quite different from their straight metal cuts. "American Soldier" is a concept album that spans stories from those who fought in WW II to the present. Queensryche doesn't kick the anthill to provoke anybody who has served in the military but put the people forefront who have given their lives to and for a greater cause.

There have been some line-up changes over the years but with Tate at the vocal helm and the rest of the band keeping with the trademark sound, it's still Queensryche. This disc might not garner any Top 10 hits but the songs are well crafted and passionately played. "American Soldier" clocks in at 60:31 and it's an hour of truth and confession.

Queensryche: Geoff Tate – lead, backing vocals, horns; Michael Wilton – lead, rhythm, acoustic guitars; Eddie Jackson – bass; Scott Rockenfield – drums.

For more information, check out http://www.queensryche.com

"Sign of the Times: The Best of Queensryche" (Capitol; 2007)
(Deluxe Edition)
(Standard Edition)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Greatest hits packages are usually easy to review. "Sign of the Times" is no exception.

With 17 tracks and over 80 minutes of music, "Sign of the Times" is a strong representation of the long and successful career of one of hard rock's most respected and, sometimes most frustrating (see Mr. Kelter's review of "Q2K" below), bands.

Beginning with "Queen of the Reich," from the band's self-titled EP and ending with "All the Promises," from "Operation Mindcrime II" (the brilliant sequel to the band's biggest album), "Sign of the Times" rocks solidly from beginning to end and gives the listener a strong feeling for the band's growth and history.

The CD is available in two versions and, although both are recommended, the Special Edition gets higher marks for containing a second CD featuring 15 "rare tracks," including live versions, demos and a new track entitled "Justified." Both versions contain a sixteen-page booklet, a discography and track notes from the band's Geoff Tate. 

The usual "Greatest Hits" caveats apply: 1) You don't need to buy the standard edition of this disc if you have the band's entire catalog on CD already (many of the tracks here first appeared as bonus tracks elsewhere) and 2) No "Greatest Hits" package can please everyone. You know there are tracks here that one fan will think don't belong that other fans will find essential.

Again, the single disc edition is plenty for the casual Queensryche fan. Those looking for a little more should spend the extra dough and pick up the Special Edition version.

For more information, check out http://www.queensryche.com

"Operation: Mindcrime II" (Rhino; 2006)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

1988 – 2006. From the end of the story in "Operation Mindcrime," (which left the unanswered question, "Who Killed Mary?") Queensryche picks up as though they never intended to leave that question unanswered. They just waited eighteen years to release "Operation Mindcrime II." Even though they’ve released five CDs since the original and "II" they go back and create the same music as before. They even tuned back to A so that it wouldn’t sound outdated, but rather updated, to go along with the story. 

I remember the original, classic "Operation MIndcrime" and I was always hopeful they would do a sequel. "Operation Mindcrime" was almost an hour long and so is "II." I recommend playing these discs back to back with nobody interrupting the audio story. It will be two hours well spent. The bridge between both discs is seamless. After listening, you might think they recorded them back to back and didn't actually wait through a couple of Presidential elections to release them to the public.

The voice of Sister Mary is again played by Pamela Moore, but Dr. X is played by Ronnie James Dio. Geoff Tate is currently in negotiations to turn "Operation Mindcrime I" and "II" into a movie. I don't know about you but that gets me wiggling in my chair with anticipation. I don’t want to go too much into the story of "Mindcrime II" because I’m not the spoiler type of person. I will tell you that Nicky gets his revenge but, as always, it's bittersweet and ... well, the rest is to be figured out by you. 

Queensryche: Geoff Tate – vocals; Michael Wilton – guitars; Mike Stone – guitars, vocals; Eddie Jackson – bass, vocals; Scott Rockenfield – drums. 

For more information, check out http://www.queensryche.com

"Operation: LIVECrime" DVD (EMI/Capitol; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This DVD contains the same live performance as you get with the CD below but, of course, the differences are obvious: 1) You get to see the band perform this show as well as hear them; 2) The bonus features. Included on the DVD are an interesting interview with Geoff Tate, an explanation of the whole "MindCrime" phenomenon (a featurette entitled "The Live Crime Story") and more.

This DVD contains pretty much the same footage the original VHS did ten years ago but the picture looks great and the sound quality is awesome. The performance isn't exactly incendiary but it's strong enough. The bonus material alone, however, is nearly worth the price of purchase.

Bottom line: Queensryche fans will want this improved video version in their collection.

For more information, check out http://www.queensryche.com

"Operation: LIVECrime" (EMI/Capitol; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I've never been much of a Queensryche fan. I mean, I like the band's music just fine - I have most of their CDs in my collection - but I never really got to know the music or to follow the band's history. I saw them a couple of times live (both times as an opening act) and was impressed with their performance. Basically, I just never went out of my way for Queensryche.

Which is why "Operation: LIVECrime," which was originally released years ago as part of a video/CD package and is now available separately, was such a pleasant surprise. Not only does this CD showcase Queensryche's musical ability and live charisma, but it's a fine example of their extraordinary songwriting ability.

Of course, "Operation: LIVECrime" is simply a live performance of the band's "Operation Mindcrime" studio CD, their best-selling and probably most enduring. In fact, tracks 1 - 15 of this CD are identical to the studio version, albeit live. Track 16 and 17 are "previously unreleased" live tracks recorded in Madison, WI on May 10, 1991. Frankly, these tracks aren't bad, but they add little to the original recording (although fans of the band will no doubt find them worth the purchase price alone).

What does add considerably to this edition of "LIVECrime" is the brilliant remastering. This CD sounds great. The recording is clear and sharp and the music sounds great. It's as if it were recorded last month rather than ten years ago. It's truly remarkable.

Queensryche recently released a double-live CD from their most recent tour but this classic is a must for those who want to hear the band at their prime.

Queensryche: Geoff Tate - vocals; Chris DeGarmo - guitar; Michael Wilton - guitar; Eddie Jackson - bass; Scott Rockenfield - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.queensryche.com

"Q2K" (Atlantic; 1999)queensryche.jpg (12396 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

The sad demise of Queensryche continues.  That crashing sound you just heard was the crushed hopes of Queensryche fans everywhere.

I was hoping the departure of Chris DeGarmo might return the band to glorious, dynamic hard rock dueling guitars.  Alas, there isn't as much as one might hope for.   Most tracks, while not outright bad, are simply flat and lifeless. The bottom line is that nothing really reaches out and demands attention.

There are some interesting moments such as the give-and-take solos of Wilton and Gray on "Falling Down, " the bluesy slide guitar break in the otherwise ordinary "One Life," and "Liquid Sky" is one of the few songs where both the music and the vocals combine into a unique track.

"Beside You" is a jumbled mess, "Breakdown" is a straight-ahead rocker that is no threat to their previous work, and "Burning Man" is aimless.

As always, Queensryche offer an avant-garde excursion into uncharted territory with their last track.  "The Right Side Of My Mind" combines the somber nature of "Someone Else?" (from "Promised Land") with the twisted meandering of "sp00l" (from "Hear In The Now Frontier").  Does this track redeem Queensryche?  Not quite, but it helps form the disc being a complete loss.

I was ready to give this album only one and a half chainsaws, but I must give credit where credit is due - Geoff Tate saves this disc and thus his performance alone makes it worthy of two chainsaws.  Tate shines on nearly every track, but "Sacred Ground," "When The Rain Comes," and "The Right Side Of My Mind" really stand out.

This album is for Queensryche fans only.  There are plenty of reasons to listen to the disc on headphones to fully appreciate the ear candy that are placed throughout.   Nearly every track has ample studio manipulations and trickery to give the songs some dynamic depth.  However, listening to this disc through normal speakers is a big disappointment.

Queensryche is Geoff Tate on vocals, Michael Wilton and Kelly Grey on guitars, Eddie Jackson on bass, and Scott Rockenfield on drums.  Queensryche produced "Q2K."

For more information visit the band's official website at http://www.queensryche.com/ and learn more about their recent efforts.

"Hear in the Now Frontier" (EMI; 1997)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

For a line-up that never changes, "Hear In The Now Frontier" displays a variety of sounds. It's even more remarkable that it sounds as good as it does since - at this point - Queensryche is merely a front for Chris DeGarmo's songs. Hardly anyone else in the band is contributing any longer and therein lies much of the disappointment of "Hear In The Now Frontier."

Much of the metal foundation from the early days of "Queen Of The Ryche" and "Rage For Order" is gone in favor of a sound based in hard rock. Admittedly, the disc starts off with a great song. "Sign Of The Times" is a classic Queensryche tune that uses chaotic modern living as the source for its inspiration. "Reach," the only song that offers Michael Wilton's songwriting, again is forged in a hard rock style, yet Wilton's unique stamp is all over this song. "Saved" is another decent tune that shows the band experimenting with overlaid lead vocals and backing vocals to great effect.

Many of the progressive elements that Queensryche are known for are quite evident and add quirky touches and angles to the band's songs. "Hero" and "spOOL" are the two songs that bring the progressive sound to the forefront; as can be expected, I enjoyed the freak-out, non-standard structure of "spOOL" as it is the most adventurous song on the disc.

Basically "Hear In The Now Frontier" is for fans of Queensryche that simply must have the band's entire catalog. Then again, if you enjoy hard rock with metallic influences and progressive angles, then "Hear In The Now Frontier" could offer something worth liking - hell, there are fourteen songs so there should be something for everyone.

"Hear In The Now Frontier" was produced by Peter Collins.

Queensryche is Geoff Tate on vocals, Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton on guitars, Eddie Jackson on bass, and Scott Rockenfield on drums and percussion.

For more information visit http://www.queensryche.com. 

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 08 Jan 2016 11:29:45 -0500 .