Time for another bit of original review content from me for the board.
Century Media Records - 2015
Given the state of Queensryche the past couple of years, you'd have to wonder if things were ever going to straighten out and see the band actually turn out some quality material. The bitter and drawn out split with singer Geoff Tate, the lawsuits, the dual albums released under the Queensryche name by both camps. It has been a complete and utter mess.
Since the band was at one point my all-time favorite, I was quite disappointed with the whole thing. Geoff Tate spent nearly 15 years (at least) making Queensryche (with the lack of pushback from the other members) into a shadow of their former selves. While I gave a slight edge to his Frequency Unknown album over the self-titled Queensryche disc from the other members, whatever goodwill he built up there was washed away by his album The Key released under the Operation: Mindcrime banner.
So you'll pardon me if I didn't have the highest of hopes for Condition Human out of the gate. This despite enjoying the first song they released prior to the official release date entitled "Arrow of Time". That particular track leads off the album and it is a clarion call to all fans of the band, current or lapsed, that Queensryche has their balls back.
Musically speaking, this is probably the hardest rocking album the band has done in years. They go about claiming their rock/metal bonafides with track such as "Guardian" and "Hellfire". Heck, on some songs that I didn't particular enjoy, I still found the aggressive nature (the song "Toxic Remedy" serves as one example) of the music somewhat compelling.
That's not to say that I didn't have some issues with the album. Their attempt at balladry, "Just Us" was dead on arrival and song like "Selfish Lives" and "Bulletproof" came off rather ponderous. The title track shifts back in forth in tempo, and while I enjoyed the more rocking parts of the song, when things slowed down the track became rather pedestrian.
As an aside, I didn't much care for the packaging design. The track listing on the back of the disc is nearly illegible and the lettering in the booklet for the song lyrics leaves something to be desired.
And then we come to singer Todd La Torre. Don't get me wrong, the guy can sing his butt off. He's got great pipes but the band seems bound and determined to not only recapture the sound of their earlier, more metallic years but make it sound like THAT version of Geoff Tate is still in the band. La Torre sounds like a dead ringer for Tate before he decided to become an artiste instead of a rocker. While others have moved on passed this particular point, I still maintain that if the band is to move on from Tate and the shadow of his distinctive vocal sound, La Torre needs to sound like HIMSELF, not someone else.
Of course, I have to come back around to saying that for the most part I enjoyed this album despite the flaws I describe in this piece. And everyone in the band has two prime examples of why they are "back" with the sound that launched their career with the tracks "All There Was" and the amazingly powerful "Eye 9".
Both songs are balls-out rockers and instantly transport the listener back to those days of yore when Queensryche put out metallic goodness that was unparalleled by many of their brethren. This album is, for me at least, the REAL official start of the Queensryche comeback. This is the kind of music they should've been making for many a year gone by. Perfection? No. But definitely on the road to winning back those who might've become disillusioned by the recent past.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Spot on critique!
Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it.