Review: Queensrÿche – Condition Hüman
Century Media (2015)
Reviewer: Aaron Chatfield
A few weeks ago I reviewed the latest release from estranged Queensrÿche singer, Geoff Tate’s current band, Operation: Mindcrime, so it is only appropriate that I get my teeth into the brand new release from Queensrÿche themselves.
Condition Human has been a highly awaited release, with appetites whetted by the self titled opus in 2013. That self titled album was good, but felt a little rushed. With a little more time on their side, what can the band do?
‘Arrow of Time’ starts the album off and it’s got that recognisable twin guitar harmony that the current QR demonstrated. It’s a throw back to the first couple of QR releases, interwoven with some Mindcrime and Empire textures. A solid tempo drives it along, with Scott Rockenfield demonstrating is incredible prowess on the kit (you have to tune into the percussion to really appreciate the guys skills). Relative new boy, Todd LeTorre is in fine form and we are hearing more of his overall tone on this album, compared to his debut with the band, where he was often compared too Tate.
‘Guardian’ follows with an Empire-esq melody line guiding us into chunky riff and some inventive song structures. The Empire comparisons continue, with the political lyrics. I can imagine this song live, with its anthemic calling in the bridge.
The Operation Mindcrime similarities come in on ‘Hellfire’, with the intro bringing back memories of drug riddled assassins desperate for absolution in the pouring rain. As the album unfolds, it’s clear that Queensrÿche have looked back to their sound on their first 5-6 releases for inspiration, with every track having a bit of Warning, Empire of my personally favourite, Rage for Order in them. There is some fiery soloing on this track from the axe partnership of Parker Lundgren and Michael Wilton and we see LeTorre pushing his range to the max. Wonderful stuff.
‘Toxic Remedy’ and ‘Selfish Lives’ are both splendid Queensrÿche tracks. ‘Eye9′, brings the tempo down a little, a brooding, prowling track, where Eddie Jackson’s bass is the foundation to some solid work from the rest of the band.
‘Bulletproof’ is the one of the albums Silent Lucidity moments and whilst it is unlikely to have the MTV fuelled impact across the world, it’s a superb track. It’s hard to pick out key performances from the band members, with each one proving their worth.
An almost bay-area style chunky riff lets ‘Hourglass’ out of the gates, before the clean guitar chorus opens the song up into the type of mid-tempo progressive rocker that Queensrÿche do so well.
‘Just Us’ is the second Silent Lucidity moment, probably more so than Bulletproof. There is also moments that remind me of some of the off-beat solo work from former Crimson Glory vocalist, Midnight (RIP), a band that Todd has previously fronted.
If you have been waiting for something a little more ‘Needle Lies‘, then wait no longer. ‘All There Was’ is an up-tempo track, with a riff that hints at the aforementioned Operation Mindcrime track. The track segues into ‘The Aftermath’, which feels like it should end the album…. but wait, there’s more.
Queensrÿche leave the ‘Condition Hüman‘ title track to last. At just under 8 mins, it is clearly the albums tour de force. One of the secrets to a long track of this nature, is using the time to create a number of different tempos and themes. Queensrÿche succeed in doing exactly this, with everything from chugging riffs, to epic power chords and crystal like guitar chimes. As the title track, it delivers almost an album taster, bringing all of the ideas from the previous 11 tracks together into an epic piece of prog-rock/metal.
On the Geoff Tate review, I finished off suggesting that Geoff needed to leave the Queensrÿche association behind in order to give himself the ability to grow and find new fans (but, what do I know!). When it comes to Queensrÿche, I think it is the opposite approach that has revitalised the band. With Todd acting as the catalyst and Lundgren bringing some youthful vitality, Queensrÿche have wound the clock back to their true glory days. Embracing those early albums and delivering the type of album that Queensrÿche fans have been desperate for.
There is no doubt in my mind that Queensrÿche have delivered the goods with this album. 12 tracks of fine prog-metal, with a retro-feel, but a modern edge, I can’t wait to see them on the road playing some of the highlights