Album: The Verdict
Label: Century Media
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date: March 1, 2019
This review took me a bit to put into words. I’ve long had a deep love for the band Queensrÿche, one of my local bands when I was just hitting my teen years in the 1980’s. There was this little record shop across the street from my junior high school called Easy Street Records that I must have spent a good portion of my teen years in browsing through the record bins looking for the next amazing album. One of those was the original self titled Queensrÿche EP on the 206 label. It forever had an impact on me as the music was so different and original. I’d never heard anything like it before and being someone local to look up to, of course my admiration for these guys hit hard.
I remember the first time putting the needle to that vinyl in 1983 and sitting back stunned at the sound that flowed through my ears. With tracks like “Queen of the Reich” and my all time favorite Queensrÿche track, “The Lady Wore Black”, I knew instantly this would be a musical love affair to stand the test of time! Fast forward 36 years to 2019 and Queensrÿche has stunned me yet again with their latest album, ‘The Verdict’ that released on March 1, 2019.
While the band has had a few line up changes over the years as Chris DeGarmo left, Kelly Gray and Mike Stone came then left the band and then Parker Lundgren joined the band and a huge public split with former vocalist Geoff Tate that had Todd La Torre took over as their new vocalist in 2012, and Scott Rockenfield currently out on a paternal hiatus, they’ve never lost their sound. Their sound has changed and evolved over the years, it’s still very much Queensrÿche, but even more with the new release.
Even as a big fan, the past few albums for me, I honestly didn’t love or connect with them. They just felt a bit off for the band. I guess coming into the Queensrÿche fold from the beginning and being mesmerized by the writing on the EP and albums of the 80’s and 90’s era, there’s just this feel to their music I’ve been longing for in a new album for a long time. Saying that though, it has nothing to do with the change on vocals either, there have been a number of albums with Tate that I didn’t connect with, just as there have been a number with La Torre as well. That has certainly changed for me with the release of ‘The Verdict’.
‘The Verdict’ for me, has brought back the Queensrÿche glory! The sound on this album instantly caught my attention and I have connected with this album much more than recent albums. It has that feel from the 80’s/90’s era of Queensrÿche that I fell for all those years ago. From the opening intro on “Blood of the Levant” I knew this was an album I was going to love. There’s this immediate pull into the track that says come listen to what we’ve done and wow! They did something spectacular with this album, even down to the hauntingly similar vocals that Todd La Torre shares with Geoff Tate! When it came to picking a singer with almost identical style, I am still floored by how closely they sound. So match the amazing vocals to the new music and it feels like a classic Queensrÿche album.
Every track on this album holds something to fall into and absorb. The melodies, the lyrics, tempos and the strength in the vocals. This is a music fans dream album and for the fans of Queensrÿche, this is the album we’ve all been hoping and waiting for. That full production feel is back with this new album. This is the Queensrÿche sound I’ve loved forever and want more of!
There are a few tracks that simply stand out above the rest too. The first of course was the opening “Blood of the Levant”. Then the bass and drum tracks in “Light-years” have his hypnotic feel to them as the song rips open with this cool vocal bridge that sends shivers down my spine. Then to be hit with twin guitar riffs that pulls at listeners then back into that hypnotic rhythm. Incredible track!
“Dark Reverie” has this haunting, pained feel to it that any listener can relate to and interpret into their own lives. It’s got this huge bridge that opens up then fades back into the haunting feel of the track. The lyrics will cut you to the core as you recognize them in your own life experiences.
“Bent” is another that’s just raw, intent and in your face. The vocals on this track go in all directions giving La Torre the ability to flex his glorious vocal range and the melody of the vocals when they hit the bridge haunt and blend in this eery melody. Ah shivers again! And then the solo, it’s going to suck you in hard!
All in all this is one hell of a banger! Wow, seriously surprised by ‘The Verdict’. What a great album, from the writing, production, and final mix. This is the Queensrÿche I know and love. Seriously, what a great album they’ve released. The guys should be really proud of themselves for putting out such a solid album!
Go grab your copy today if you don’t already have it, well worth the money and well worth listening to on repeat! The guys are on tour right now with just a few dates left, so get out and see this live and support the band! Tour dates below!
Remaining Tour Dates:
March 28 – Los Angeles, CA- Fonda
March 29 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
March 30 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
April 2 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
April 3 – Seattle, WA – Neptune
*w/ support from The Cringe
Watch: Queensrÿche – Blood of the Levant:
The Verdict Tracklisting:
Blood of the Levant
Man the Machine
Launder the Conscience
Michael Wilton – lead guitar
Eddie Jackson – bass, backing vocals
Parker Lundgren – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Todd La Torre – lead vocals
Scott Rockenfield – drums (currently on hiatus)
Casey Grillo – drums (touring drummer)
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