Queensryche - Self Titled
X 2 - Intro sounds like a movie trailer score with the overall tone that fits with Operation Mind Crime
Where Dreams Go To Die - Great opening to this track. The march of drums and the echoing riff are a sounding call for what Queensryche fans have been waiting for. The vocals kick in slowly and build as the chorus comes into view. The songwriting is strong and harkens back to the Pre Burlesque era of Queensryche. Todd's range is what is most noticeable. His ability to hit the highs gives the band a new lease on life. A nice touch to the song is the added muffled voices that are reminiscent of "Operation Mind Crime" and "Empire". By itself this track can compete with some of their finest work.
Spore - Another strong track that could easily match their earlier success. A really tasty chorus. Todd's vocals are a perfect fit for the band and really makes the band sound much more current. I'm not missing Geoff Tate on this at all. The drive of the band which was missing for the last several albums is back.
In This Light - One of my favorite tracks. The songwriting is really enjoyable on this. While it's a slower paced song, it has direction and builds to a really cool chorus. Something I haven't heard by other bands in a long time. It's a song fans will definitely be singing along to. The band leaves room for the guitarists to be experimental in areas but the song doesn't lose it's focus. Todd's highs at the end of the song really cement him as a great Rock/Metal vocalist.
Redemption - Strong start to the song but I feel that this is the one track where they throw too many of their signature sounds into the song. This was the original track released as a teaser for the album. Todd's vocals sound tweaked and the dueling guitars are a bit too upfront and one dimensional for my liking. They are firing on all cylinders but maybe a more subtle approach to the mixing of this song would've improved it's overall feel.
Vindication - A strong driving track with a Maiden-esque feel. Todd has such great range pulling off highs in the chorus Geoff Tate hasn't seen since before Promised Land.
Michael Wilton: Guitar
Todd LaTorre: Vox
Scott Rockenfield: Drums
Eddie Jackson: Bass
Parker Lundgren: Guitar
Midnight Lullaby - The baby sounds remind me of the beginning of Silent Lucidity but maybe with a darker twist leading into the next track.
A World Without - A slow burn beginning with a touch of grunge reminiscent of Alice in Chains. Feels like an "EMPIRE" song and Todd sounds like Tate when he was at his strongest. Much darker feel similar to when Digarmo was writing for the band. Great use of violin at the tail end and a nod to the introductory Midnight Lullaby with the sounds of the baby again. Also a guest background vocal by Pamela Moore, original Sister Mary from earlier Operation Mindcrime albums.
Don't Look Back - This track kicks back into a fast paced attack. Scott Rockenfield's drums march through this entire track. I find myself waiting for a chorus that never seems to come. The drums and an echoey moment in the vocal delivery towards the end of the track reminds me of Whitesnake.
Fallout - Here's a song that focuses more on musicianship than hooks. Begins with a crunch and transitions into flourishes of duel guitars. It's not an extremely memorable song with very few things that I could go back and say stand out compared to the songs that surround it. Still compared to the last three QR releases this shows a band finding it's way.
Open Road - Great song to go out on. Mid paced, strong chorus and that signature "EMPIRE" era sound. Todd's vocals are very strong and the chorus is anthemic. A real quality guitar solo that I haven't heard on a Queensryche release in some time. The band leaves you wanting more with the track concluding a 40 minute adventure that puts this version of the band back on the map.
Heavy Metal Textbooks Assessment: 90% out of 100%
After reading about all the drama that has been taking place between fans and media over dropping original lead singer Geoff Tate, I was really relieved to hear this release. This indeed is what true Queensryche fans have been waiting for years. They have pulled from their greatest assets, great song writing and stellar musicianship and injected a talented vocalist with range to create much more inspired music.
This is the start of something the fans will be getting behind for years to come. While I would've left a few tracks off like Redemption and Fallout, the overall feel of the album is incredible. Anything else called Queensryche(Tate's rag tag bunch) out there is barely a sad shadow of what they once were. Do your homework pick up the self titled and say FU to the rest.