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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Queensryche-Condition-Human-Review-2015

QUEENSRYCHE - CONDITION HUMAN - ALBUM REVIEW

Century Media | Release Date: October 2 2015

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And so the new age begins – there are of course no longer 2 bands going by the name Queensryche…


The new age started officially when ex-singer Geoff Tate released his first opus under the name ‘Operation Mindcrime’ globally on September 18th and now here comes the remainder of the band that he parted ways with – set to release ‘Condition Human’ on 2nd October just a few weeks apart.


For those of you who read our review of the Operation Mindcrime album a month ago  you’ll know our thoughts on the matter, so rather than this become some sort of comparative review we’ll just get straight to what we think of this one and direct you to the link if you’re interested in reading about that other release.


When I saw the band live back earlier in the year it was clear that they worked well live, and with the set list reflecting largely the heavier side of the band’s catalogue it was pretty clear that new front man Todd LaTorre could more than handle those duties. So all that was left was to see what path the new album went down – would it sound like classic Queensryche? And if so which era? Or would the band confound us all and continue to build on the self-titled release from 2013 which was certainly a good step towards reminding us all of former glories but pushing the sound forwards?  


La Torre may just well be Queensryche’s biggest talking point this time out, as we all know he has a voice that sounds uncannily like Tate’s a few years back, and when you add the strikingly similar phrasing it’s a bit of a like-for-like replacement which sometimes sits well with fans expectations, but not always.  I for one have no concerns and when you listen to his performance on ‘Condition Human’ I think you’ll agree.
Opening track ‘Arrow of Time’ couldn’t be a better opening, easing any worries of straying from the Metal path, though it and ‘Guardian’ the single which follows have more of a vintage Maiden meets Queensryche sound than a straight retelling of history. With their Prog touches and La Torre’s distinctive vocals they are both ‘bankers’ but still play it safe to a degree.


‘Hellfire’ adds more reflection and manages to harness some of the power of the mid-tempo Mindcrime-era without quite hitting the mark; whilst ‘Toxic Remedy’ that follows is better still, a sizzling Prog Metal cut that like ‘Selfish Live’ that bursts forth right after really does underline the power this refreshed band still has at their disposal, coming across as it does like the genetically modified offspring of all the band was between ‘Rage..’ and ‘Empire’.


‘Eye 9’ takes us back even further to the more experimental earlier releases; while songs like ‘Hourglass’ and ‘Just Us’ are bound to also please long-time fans. ‘Just Us’ like ‘Bulletproof’ that precedes it both open up the sound, both atmospheric and dynamic and a mile from the rather standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus compositions of 2013’s ‘Queensryche’. Both are genuine highpoints.

 

If the album does stutter it’s towards the end with ‘All There was’ ‘The Aftermath’ a little by-the-book, but hell if that’s the worst criticism we can level forget about it!  


That stutter is more than made up for by epic closer and title track ‘Condition Human’ which is the best possible teaser of what might come next – a complex, multi-segmented beast of a song that is probably the best thing on the entire album. It’s the sort of epic that made Queensryche so special and by the sound of it they still have a firm grasp of that flame.


When you compare ‘Condition Human’ to 2013’s ‘Queensryche’ it’s a huge step forward. There’s more organic growth in the two years between releases that you can imagine. The songs, as Wilton said, have had ‘room to breathe’ and they benefit greatly from it: they are longer and more experimental giving the album a larger shot of ‘Prog’ than their last outing.

 

How much the tensions between Tate and the rest of the band played on their output over the final years of that incarnation we’ll never know, but this sounds like a band comfortable together and not afraid to push on into the unknown. If there is a downside it’s the cleanness of the production by Chris Harris which at times gets a little cloying especially on the bottom end, but it’s a minor quibble easily overcome by the quality of the material.


 

by Mark Rockpit

 

 


 

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