In 2013, Queensryche fans got what they were hoping for. A return to form album from one of the pioneers of progressive metal. Their self titled album was just what Doctor X ordered. Seems he delivered the cure after all. Although the album wasn't progressive metal, it was better than anything released after Promised Land. It was even better than Empire. The band needed to get an album out fast, and they did; And, the fans rewarded them for it with a #23 debut on the charts. For the first time in years, the band was working cohesively as a unit, and it showed. That all being said, the fans were left wondering if the band could evolve into something much better, and get back to their true progressive roots, without sounding like simple rehash of classic albums.
Lets just get that out of the way right now. They did, and on a grand scale. Condition Human seems to be the natural evolution that the band should have taken years ago after Promised Land, rather than venturing into the realms of grunge and even adult contemporary. However, the band got rid of the main problem, released the self titled album, toured extensively, and got to know each other musically once again, along with the new members. Then, they produced this juggernaut. Once again, just what Doctor X ordered. Double time.
The first thing you'll notice is the incredible vocal range of Todd LaTorre. Something that was mostly absent in the songs from the previous album. He did after all replace Midnight of Crimson Glory, so you knew it was there. He leads the songs effortlessly, piercing the stratosphere, dipping low, and everything in between. Also, the vocal harmony is every bit as good it was in the first albums. Backed up by Eddie Jackson and Parker Lundgren, the vocals are a fine tuned instrument on their own in every song.
|Parker Lundgren and Michael Wilton|
The next thing you'll notice is the great guitar work. Queensryche has always been known for great guitar solos, twin axe harmony solos, which are the perfection you'd expect. Parker Lundgren has much more duties in the lead guitar department than on the previous album, and executes flawlessly. Michael Wilton is great as always. This is a unit equal to Priest and Maiden in talent. Check out track 10, All There Was. One thing that is different though is the rhythm guitar. Its a monster all its own. There is mauling rhythm guitar in all the songs, but specifically, the rhythm guitar in Guardian, Toxic Remedy, and Hellfire is a step up in Queensryche music. Think the skill and precision of The Needle Lies, except throughout the entire song.
|Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield|
And the last thing you'll notice, but certainly not the least thing is the rhythm section of Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield. This has always been a unit in beast mode, but the work produced in this album is nothing short of incredible. Scott Rockenfield is one of the all time great drummers of heavy metal, but he does things in this album that defy logic. Eddie Jackson is one of the most solid bass players to play in a metal band. The two join together to form a deep and powerful assault on the foundation of the building you're jamming the album in.
Now, lets get into the music itself. One question I've been asked is "Does it sound like Mindcrime or Rage for Order? What album does it sound like?" Well, it does sound like a Queensryche album. It sounds exactly like Condition Human. And, isn't that what we all wanted? Yes, there are songs that could have fit on previous albums, like the title track COULD have been on Mindcrime, and there are several songs that COULD have been on Rage or Promised Land, but Condition Human sounds like its own creation. Modern Queensryche with deep rooted influences that prove that they are still very much the band we all know and love from years back.
There are songs that have the progressive/mature feel of Promised Land. Songs that have the deep and dark technical aspects of Rage and Mindcrime. There is even a hint of Crimson Glory influence no doubt because of Todd LaTorre writing with the band. But just because there is influence doesn't mean that it sounds just like anything else. One thing you will NOT find here is a song that is centered around a riff from a song off a classic album, played a little faster with new lyrics.
Condition Human is proof that things get better with age. I would definitely put this in the band's top three, and maybe best overall. You decide! You will not be disappointed!
Its available on Google Play, Amazon, Best Buy, Itunes, Walmart, FYE, and anywhere else you can buy music. If you haven't gotten it yet, get it THIS WEEK, so we can chart this bad boy!
And PS, if you're in Queensryche or a member of their management, we really need to get the band on my radio show. ;)