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Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
Atlantic Records


Back in 1985 I was in a record and tape store with a friend and checking out an album that, my friend had told me, was from a band we'd seen up in Bremerton, Washington in the U.S.A. about a year before.
"No way!" I had said.
"Honest!" he told me. "That was this band, QUEENSRYCHE."

After that I became something of a QUEENSRYCHE completist, collecting everything they released both in this country as well as any others that I could get my hands on.

After listening to a few dozen studio versions, remixes, demo versions and bootlegs of "Silent Lucidity", I kind of burned out. Around about that time, 1991, the time of the CD and video boxset of the live performance of OPERATION: Live Crime (which came out on one CD and nearly two years after OPERATION: Mindcrime), QUEENSRYCHE sort of burned out too. They took a sabbatical to recharge their batteries and ponder what they were going to do next. What was odd about this was the fact that their final studio CD, EMPIRE, was the run away monster smash that they had always wanted. However, during the years of working and touring and interviews, late hours, poor sleep and heavy schedules, many members of the band had also got married and started raising families. Their life on constant call was beginning to negatively affect their marriages and their children.

Finally in 1995 they gave it another shot with their album PROMISED LAND which they followed up in 1997 with HEAR IN THE NOW FRONTIER. This was back to old QUEENSRYCHE, which was the thoughtful and philosophical Metal band. The philosophy of QUEENSRYCHE has never been the spoiled and "affected" conundrum chatter of the privileged, like so many philosophers were/are, but of the deeper philosophy of seeing the poor state of humanity around you and, not only questioning that society, but being honest enough to question your role in it.

The reason this little trip down memory lane is important is due to the fact that, with Q2k, QUEENSRYCHE has switched gears somewhat. While their songs of inner exploration have always included love won and love lost songs, only recently, with HEAR IN THE NOW FRONTIER and Q2k is Geoff Tate writing songs about love preserved. Like this bit from "Sacred Ground", musically writhing in sensuous layers as Geoff sings:
I know I can change your mind /
Give it to me the same way /
Giving it all up for love.

What also sets Q2k apart, is that now, instead of being the young men railing against societies and "systems", they are now fathers trying to move one step beyond where they came from in raising their own kids. Several of the songs on this disk are actually love songs to their children. In "Beside You" Tate sings:
The day you were born /
I held you /
small and helpless and crying /
your life and mine entwining /
As I looked into your eyes /
I saw myself in an overview /
reaching out to you /
from this island in the sea /
I don't want to be an island

In the credits, Geoff Tate, Scott Rockenfield, and Michael Wilton thank their wives, kids and families. QUEENSRYCHE has become a family band (Bass player Eddie Jackson, on the other hand, just thanks everyone he wants to in a nonstop word-run rant.)

While Family home and hearth may dull the blade of their revolutionary idiom, it certainly hasn't dulled their sound. The first song "Falling Down" is ever bit as full of hot and heavy blood pounding drums and guitars in the QUEENSRYCHE rhythm as before. But despite all that I've said, despite hardcore guitars and drums in the beginning, the band tones themselves down throughout the album. There are some songs to be sure, that are Heavy Metal, but overall QUEENSRYCHE sounds like a band pulling out of the niche; willing to be just a regular, if identifiably unique, rock band. Possibly one of the very few that will be without walls.

4 Perplex Skulls

Perplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex Skull

This review copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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