11 October 2015

Queensrÿche - Condition Hüman

Splitting up from someone can be messy at times, especially if it goes messy.  It can be even messier if you see them with someone who is similar to you, but any awkward spilt up you have experienced is nothing compared to the level of weird it went for the breakup of Queensrÿche and their previous singer Geoff Tate.  At one point there was two versions of Queensrÿche touring with their own album claiming they were the legitimate version of the band.  It even went to court to have it sorted out, but in the end it was settled with Geoff Tate's version now operating under the name Operation:Mindcrime and the original band retaining the Queensrÿche name; this album we are reviewing here is the original Queensrÿche with singer Todd La Torre and is the second album to feature him on lead vocals.  I will be honest and say that the whole split was not good for either band and I will be reviewing both of the new releases ('Condition Hüman' by Queensrÿche & 'The Key' by Operation:Mindcrime) and using the same introduction for fairness.  I have also not listened to either 'Queensrÿche' or 'Frequency Unknown' as the bad taste in the air was really strong.  But now that it has all been sorted and everyone is happier in their new entities, now I can review their new works.   After this review, I will not be comparing both acts as they will be on their own paths then, it will be interesting how each act progressive over the coming years.  I will not compare them at the end as I am doing one at a time and that would not be fair, but let us see how 'Condition Hüman' has turned out.

Starting the album is "Arrow of Time" which is a fast paced opening to this album, musically it is nothing that they have not done beforehand and does not change anything.  But that is not a crime to me, if it is not broken then why try to fix it.  I would like to point out that Todd La Torre sounds as if he has been in Queensrÿche from the beginning, they are obviously have connected incredibly well.  It is not breaking the mould, but it is an incredibly interesting opening track.  "Guardian" starts with pulsing drums, a fast and eager riff that grabs your attention very quickly.  Once again, more progressive rock that they seemed to walk away from at one point, performed with incredible ability and delivered with a confidence and grace that you expect from these guys.  Third track "Hellfire" starts with an acoustic guitar and military drum beat to build up the song before it explodes with the sound of helicopters and a huge riff which reminds me of the first time I heard the song "Jet City Woman" from 'Empire'.  It is a fantastic track, the solos are spot on, the bass and drums sound amazing, vocals are inspired and I think I am falling under the spell of this album - a very strong song near the start of this album.  Next is "Toxic Remedy" and the song sadly does not grab me as much as the previous number, it is a medium paced number and it does not have that special factor that grabs me.  You could also read quite a lot into the lyrics, but I am going to assume it is not about the obvious.  However I would also like to add that it is not a badly played song, the music is solid and I am sure it will be seen as great track by other people; for me it is just decent, good but nothing special.

"Selfish Lives" is another track which could be misread if you were so inclined to do so, but I think it is a general aim at people who are selfish and need to have their egos taken into check every now and then; or it could be about the condition of the world we live in, about the constant attack on everyone.  It is a moody and strong track which has a massive riff at its heart and another quality performance from the band.  It is more business as usual here, a brilliant performance from a band on top of their game.  "Eye9" is a strange beast for me, it is a strong riff played at a medium pace and in places it sounds slow and fast in each measure.  It is a song that is also criminally short to be honest and could have been extended for me, but the performance is once more commanding and that is all that matters in some ways.  It just confuses me that a band who are doing progressive music can make a track that sounds as if it could be a single and without the edit - it is a strange one, no mistake there.  "Bullet Proof" is the seventh track of the album and the drama is turned up (if that is possible for a Queensrÿche record.  With a choir, luscious strings and dramatic guitars, it is this album's 'Silent Lucidity' without question; it is grand in scale, flawless in delivery and dramatic in scope.  But whilst comparing this song to their most arguably famous song, it is a different beast to their crowning glory.  It is not trying to recreate the past, but to make a new legend for the band to grow on.  It is a glorious number for this album and worthy of their legacy.  "Hourglass" is a hard rock song, with a grunge flavour to that riff that could have easily came from their 'Promised Land' period.  It is another song which solidifies this album for the listener and does not really push the boat out too much.  It is certainly no filler track and is another song that will have the faithful in unions of rapture when it is performed live on their upcoming tour; so it is not a filler, but showing how easy they can create beautiful music.

"Just Us" starts with acoustic guitars and goes into a love song of sorts that drifts along with a gentle grace that is beautiful, but not as good as other songs on this album.  I think it is the nearest they come to a filler, but that would be doing the song a disservice to be honest as it is much better than that term - it is just not the strongest song on this record.  "All There Was" is a high octave adrenaline kick for this album that is a perfect foil to "Just Us", it has everything you would want from a hard rock/metal/progressive metal song - quality riff, thumping bass, powerful drums and a great set of lyrics and vocals to solidify the song in the hearts and minds of their audience.  It is doing what they do best and keeping it (for them) very simple and back to their roots - another quality song to the list.  The penultimate track is really in segue to the final track of the album; coming in under a minute "The Aftermath" is haunting guitars, screaming vocals and then it is over as we head into the title track of the album "Condition Hüman".  Every stop is pulled out for this song, it is Queensrÿche on a prog trip which is something that will always sound exquisite. You have so many different sections to the song that it is hard to pick a favourite period of the song; it is just so well played and whilst it is very close to being to song of the album, it is certainly a towering moment to end this album with.  I like them when they just let loose, it is what distinguished them from the heard in the first place.

I was not sure what to expect with this album, obviously for me it is the first time I have heard them with Todd La Torre on vocals and he sounds as if he has always been there.  That is not a dig at Geoff Tate, but they are obviously very comfortable with Todd La Torre and he has fitted in perfectly.  The album is returning to their earlier roots and they have kept it very simple for themselves, albeit in a given sense of the word simple - this is something that you do not usually attached to Queensrÿche.  They have made a brilliant return to form with this record, it was not expected and I am glad my initial apprehension was proven wrong - Queensrÿche is dead, long live Queensrÿche!

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

You can purchase Condition Hüman on Amazon here

You can visit the Queensrÿche website here

You can follow the activities of Queensrÿche on Facebook here

You can listen to Condition Hüman on Spotify here

You can listen to Condition Hüman on Deezer here

You can listen to Condition Hüman on Tidal here

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