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Queensryche – The Verdict Award winner

Queensryche
The Verdict
by Dave Nowels at 21 February 2019, 11:33 AM

QUEENSRYCHE returns with “The Verdict”, the band’s 15th full album releases on  March 1st via Century Media Records. The great news is, the album doesn’t disappoint. The bad news is, the band finds themselves caught up in the whole PledgeMusic pre-order fiasco. The company’s less than forthright dealings will undoubtedly be a nightmare for them and the other bands caught up in it to rectify. Hopefully all that works itself out. But here for our purposes just know, that on the eve of the band’s 40th anniversary, (Crazy to even consider!) QUEENSRYCHE have released one of their best albums to date.

As “The Verdict” begins with “Blood of the Levant”, it immediately calls to mind a time when QUEENSRYCHE was a true force to be reckoned with. In the late nineties the band was inventive and innovative. A stunning mix of Hair Metal and Prog. Realistically, they served as a bridge between the sub-genres. They sparked an onslaught of bands trying to capture a sliver of that style and magic. No one can deny how influential “Operation Mindcrime” was, and in my mind, “Empire” was just as important.  But there was always a part of me that still craved the rawness found on “The Warning”. Somehow, some way they’ve found that magical fountain of youth. “The Verdict” is a thrilling blend of all eras of QUEENSRYCHE.

Musically, “Light-Years” stood out, predominantly thanks to the fantastic bass runs of Eddie Jackson. The song is heavy and melodic, which is quite the duality. Yet, I for one was drawn to the underlying hint of a Middle Eastern influence throughout the song. A few tracks later, “Dark Reverie” grabbed onto me and left its mark. Perhaps the closest to a ballad, the song is highlighted by some memorable fretwork from Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren. There’s a darkness here that resonated with me. Those same heavy, dark moments of reflection were discovered in “Launder the Conciense” as well. In regard to the guitar work, I found “Bent” fascinating. The guitar harmonies twisting back and forth via Wilton and Lundgren are hypnotic as are the chord progressions and tempo changes.

This album marks Todd La Torre’s seventh year fronting the band and his third recorded album.  There should be no doubt in the man’s vocal capabilities at this point. He is the rightful voice of QUEENSRYCHE without question. But in an interesting note, La Torre also handles all the album’s drum duties. With Scott Rockenfield (founding member and one of my favorite Metal drummers of all time) on hiatus from the band, La Torre stepped in and absolutely nailed it. If you didn’t look at the liner notes you would swear it was Rockenfield behind the kit throughout the album. Simply amazing. QUEENSRYCHE is a smart band for smart people. There’s a lot to process when listening to these songs. Sonic layers upon sonic layers, and as such, it often takes multiple listens to fully comprehend what’s laid out before you. Having seen QUEENSRYCHE perform last year, (live report with photos can be found here:

http://www.metal-temple.com/site/catalogues/entry/worldwide_live_shows/queensryche_4.htm),

I’ve eagerly anticipated hearing this new release. It’s really breathtaking and fun, and an album that should be a worthy contender for Metal album of the year. With “The Verdict”, QUEENSRYCHE proves that they’re a band still evolving and still vital to the Metal world.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Blood of the Levant
2. Man the Machine
3. Light-Years
4. Inside Out
5. Propaganda Fashion
6. Dark Reverie
7. Bent
8. Inner Unrest
9. Launder the Conscience
10. Portrait
Lineup:
Todd LaTorre - Vocals and Drums
Michael Wilton -Guitar
Eddie Jackson - Bass
Parker Lundgren – Guitar
Record Label: Century Media Recordings
     


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Edited 19 July 2019
 

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