Black Sabbath – 1310th June 2013
Haken – The Mountain2nd September 2013
Label: Century Media / Release date: 22 June 2013
The bizarre split between the band and the singer Geoff Tate was extremely well publicized so going into details is basically unnecessary. What’s important to mention is that as of now Tate is on one side and the rest of the band on the other are both allowed to release albums under Queensrÿche name. Well, at least until the court hearing later this year. The result of the hearing is extremely unpredictable so both versions of the band were busy to release the music under the band’s name while they still can. Tate was first to release the album (Frequency Unknown) few months back and the rushing has resulted in an odd release that doesn’t live up to the standards set by the band throughout their long career. The whole thing ended up in an album that sounded so bad that it was re-released digitally with a slightly improved mix. And here we are few months later and the other version of the band is ready with their album simply entitled Queensrÿche.
The band has recruited former Crimson King singer Todd La Torre as Tate’s replacement. Unlike Tate’s version of the band whose focus was on the second part of Queensrÿche’s heyday, this version of the band focuses on primarily on band’s first three albums.
Off the bat, it’s clear that sound-wise and when it comes to songwriting, Queensÿche are trying to appeal to band’s hardcore fans, who have been with the band from the start. And let it be said from the start that it’s a welcoming and perhaps also a long overdue approach. Not necessarily because the given era is superior, but rather because the it seems like perfect approach for a band that is so obviously hungry.
The album is produced by James “Jimbo” Barton, whose work on band’s masterpiece Promised Land is nothing short of well … masterful. The production on this album has nothing to do with that album, because Jimbo was set to capture the rawness and simplicity of band’s early records. As such the production is nothing outstanding, but it does capture that which is set to capture and therefore it’s successful.
Queensÿche clocks at only 35 minutes, but within that short framework the band delivers to the point. All the unnecessary fat has been trimmed and what’s left is concrete and to the point heavy metal music that despite such a short running time maintains depth as well as dramatic and even progressive feel. That’s actually truly impressive. Song-writing on the album is extremely good, even thou it comes with nothing new. Queensÿche is simply 100% Queensÿche.
La Torre’s voice and singing style are basically carbon-copy of Tate from the 80’s. That keeps him in Tate’s shadow, but his attitude and the fact that Tate didn’t sound like that for a long time now, in a weird way makes his performance his own.
Tate’s might have beaten this version of the band by releasing the album few months before, but the rushing resulted in him shooting himself in a foot on several levels. On the other hand this version of the band gave the fans that which they’ve longed after, for a long time and they did it not only by focusing on that early era of the band, but just as much by delivering an album that at the same time is simply a very good record.