I must admit that it feels a bit odd to review two Queensrÿche albums within only three months, but we all know the reason for that by now. The two albums don’t have anything but the name and the fact that they used to be one band in common. The feud between original members, lead singer Geoff Tate and guitarist Michael Wilton / bass player Eddie Jackson / drummer Scott Rockenfield is known by now and there is no reason to go into that once again!
Geoff Tate was, however, the first man to put something out with his version of the band when he released Frequency Unknown (F.U. in short, very mature…) in April. The album wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t really all that great either and it didn’t sound like Queensrÿche one bit – except for Tate’s voice maybe. Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson together with guitarist Parker Lundgren and new singer, ex-Crimson Glory man Todd LaTorre took their time instead of rushing things and started out by going on tour under the Rising West banner, playing old Queensrÿche stuff, the stuff the fans wanted to hear and completely avoiding everything that came out after Promised Land until they all felt comfortable enough to take the Queensrÿche name back. Also, everyone that has heard LaTorre knows that he has a similar vocal style as Tate, without being a clone by any means. And now it’s time for this version to show the world if they can deliver the goods or if they too wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure.
After the instrumental opener “X2”, “Where Dreams Go To Die” let’s us know what Geoff Tate will be up against in the future. It also removes every single doubt that I might have had about this line up. I mean, I have seen the live clips on YouTube and Toddrÿche (which this version is called to explain which version that is being talked about, the other one goes by the name Taterÿche…) both sounds and looks brilliant live. But this song really nails it all. It’s one of the best Queensrÿche songs I have heard since the brilliant Promised Land (1994). A fantastic song that sounds like classic Queensrÿche all the way. Speaking of Promised Land, the following song, the awesome “Spore” wouldn’t have been put to shame on that album, “In This Light” shows a very melodic and a bit catchier Queensrÿche, but the song is damn fine, “Redemption” is great stuff, but the least Queensrÿche sounding song on the album and “A World Without” is just fantastic, mixing the Empire and Promised Land sound in a great way. With “Don’t Look Back” they take a more straight forward hard rock route, without losing the Queensrÿche sound and in the killer “Fallout” Eddie Jackson’s bass playing shines and on this track especially, it’s clear just how important his sound is for this band. With the amazing big, epic semi ballad “Open Road”, the band closes the album in a classic Queensrÿche way.
I’m not sure if the two Rÿches looks at this as some kind of a contest or something like that, but if that is how people choose to see this, then this version won this easily. The fact is, not only are the songs great – there’s not one bad song on the entire album, which proves that the talk of Jackson, Rockenfield and Wilton being useless as song writers holds no truth, but for the first time in ages, they actually SOUND like Queensrÿche again. The rumors that were being spread from the Tate camp that these guys weren’t part of the recordings of the later Queensrÿche albums seems to be true – that’s why albums like American Soldier and Dedicated To Chaos has more in common with Tate’s solo release and his version of Queensrÿche as those albums don’t have the Queensrÿche sound. This album also proves how important all members of this band were – there would be no Queensrÿche without Eddie Jackson’s personal way of playing bass or Scott Rockenfield’s distinct drum sound. And Michael Wilton then – the guy is sound wise as important as Chris DeGarmo was. Also, Todd LaTorre is a stunning singer that fits this band like a glove. Fact is, he can make the high notes that Tate no longer can. However, Tate is much older so it’s a bit unfair to compare them and I won’t say that Tate can’t sing – that would a lie – he sure can. Also, to this version’s advantage, they do not pull any cheap stunts like re-recordning their old material to prove some points, like Tate’s band did. The only point proven there was that they were not even close to make those tunes justice. I’m not sure what the court will look at when they will judge which band are gonna get the rights to the Queensrÿche name, but to me this version is the real Queensrÿche in 2013.
Jon Wilmenius (8/10)
2. Where Dreams Go To Die
3. Don’t Look Back
4. In This Light
7. Midnight Lullaby
8. A World Without
9. Don’t Look Back
11. Open Road