The Verdict is: welcome back Queensryche 8.5/10
With a career that exceeds three decades and three Grammy nominations (1990/2) Queensrÿche have delighted metal fans with their prog influenced metal from their 1984 debut The Warning. The Verdict is the third release to feature new singer Todd La Torre and his finest record to date. This is Queensrÿche harkening back to their roots, but with a more contemporary feel and you should not be disappointed. Founding guitarist Michael Wilton has likened this recording to that of their original full length album as they are a statement, a creative convergence of the lineup:
“ We got together and worked on every song as a band. The spontaneity, the creativity; it came out of all of us, working together as a band should.”
Still retaining original members Eddie Jackson (bass) and Michael Wilton (guitar), Scott Rockenfield (drums) was unfortunately unable to partake in the recording sessions which allowed La Torre the opportunity to work out more than just his vocal chords
“I’ve been drumming for 30 years,” says La Torre, “I certainly know the nuance and style of Queensrÿche’s drum parts first hand so it certainly made me a logical choice to record the drums.”
La Torre has a maturity and versatility that contradicts the fact that he was 35 when he took on lead vocal duties for Crimson Glory, whereas prior to that he operated as a drummer in the Florida area. Needless to say, he is more than competent.
Blood Of The Levant is the first track and it is powerful both in delivery and subject matter. It’s a feisty stomper of a tune, in the traditional Queensrÿche style of precision metal with progressive leanings, hints of aggression, far reaching vocals and a disarming message. Tackling the emotive topic of the recent atrocities in Syria. La Torre explains.
“That really is about the Syrian war and how it started with these two kids spray painting: ‘You’re next, Doctor!’ referring to Assad, because he was an ophthalmologist before he took power. That song has to do with the people becoming rebels against their own Syrian government and the one’s that support it, i.e. Iran, Russia, Hezbollah, and ISIS which took advantage of the war to invade Syria.
Lies, feeding lies, with this ballsy opening my respect for Queensrÿche is reignited.
Man The Machine ups the pace and gutsiness with its hard riffing guitars and astonishing vocal delivery, Light-Years slows the tempo while upping the groove into a mesmeric song with outstanding rhythm and melody. Inside Out commences with mystical Eastern leanings, it’s a real mind opener and impressively fresh.
Starting with immediate vocals, Propaganda Fashion is comes in as the hardest track with its caustic lyrics but its choral harmonies and spacey effects soften the blow. Dark Reverie is a gloriously sombre and relatively fast paced ballad. I know that sounds contradictory, but this truly is a return to form for the band. To quote Lord Vader: ‘Impressive, very impressive’.
Bent with its rhythmical and slightly disconcerting pulse and dark tones echoes the lyrical content. This time closer to home, the devastation of the Native Americans land and rights poisoning the tribes, the water supply, destroying and consuming, desecrating with oil pipelines ‘Now the black snake it crawls deep within sacred grounds, we will never consent.” Spirited and dynamic, despite its slower tread it connects with the weighty and melodic Inner Unrest. Euphoric, yet without a climax its easy to overlook this track, however after repeated listens it bites harder each time.
Launder The Conscience and question what you are being told before you hang it to dry:
Walls binding, reason holds the key
Taught violence, reconditioning
Find the solution, destiny
To be free again you justify the sin
Launder the conscience,
For added impact there’s even an ethereal and somewhat doom laden bridge to reflect upon the content, before the ultimate number Portrait. A bass led ballad, with haunting lyrics from the perspective of separated lovers, the cause not explicitly stated. Emotive without a hint of cheesiness, its simply marvellous
The sky lost in grey
No light to find your way
When you’re lost and lonely
And you’re reaching for me
I have to say that The Verdict was an emotional rollercoaster, which reminded me of everything I once loved (and subsequently lost) from the band. It is not the original line-up so what? This is no longer the 1980’s and this is Queensrÿche and they rock.
- Blood Of The Levant
- Man The Machine
- Inside Out
- Propaganda Fashion
- Dark Reverie
- Inner Unrest
- Launder The Conscience
The Verdict was released March 1st and can be purchased via Amazon here
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