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Ignorance is bliss, you know. Just like that old adage. That is to say, I was ignorant of Queensryche's post-Empire career before listening to this album, and now that I am not, I would like nothing better than to stab myself through the ear with a pitchfork. Maybe I'll get my brain, too; that would subsequently erase all memory of ever hearing this...this...thing.
Okay, but seriously, what is this, anyway? It isn't really music...maybe just barely. It certainly isn't any good. I mean, I always heard Queensryche sort of lost the plot a few years after Empire, but comparing those words to what I'm hearing on this album just shows a huge incongruity. It's kind of like not knowing anything about history and having someone tell you that the Black Plague was pretty bad, or that the Holocaust was a rude thing to do to the Jews. But enough about that; there is just so much to actually say about the cataclysmic disaster that is American Soldier.
Let's start off with the most obvious problem first: The band forgot to write any real songs. They hyped this album up a whole lot, doing interviews with real soldiers to get some inspiration and credibility and even setting up a phone line that soldiers could use to send messages to, and which also contained clips of the material found on this very piece of plastic. This was a lot of work for a band to do to promote their work and their cause, so the logical conclusion would have been to assume that the band would put the same effort into writing the material itself. The logical conclusion would have been to assume that the band would create something that reflected the patriotism and the things that the American military stands for.
They do not. This entire album is just a huge ellipsis over the band's collective head, a giant waste of time that is as abhorrent as it is unmemorable. It accomplishes nothing, the band doesn't even seem to be trying to write good songs, and there is not even one moment on this disc where I could say I was enjoying myself and not be lying. I keep looking for something salvageable on here, something that I can latch onto and take a bite out of, but nothing ever comes. What the hell happened to this band? This isn't music; it's a collection of interviews with rejected Linkin Park riffs and elevator music backing it up. There's no songwriting involved. In fact, no, I would rather listen to elevator music than this, that would be far more enjoyable and constructive, not to mention well written compared to this, too. There is nothing on this entire hour-long adventure of ear-sodomizing inanity that I can call inspiring or lively or passionate or even the least bit entertaining. This is...how do I even describe something like this? What the fuck am I supposed to say about it? Well, what better way to do it than to mock the band by making bad war and battle references?!
The first song marches out with its gun raised high, titled "Silver," and right from the first second you know it's not going to be a pleasant transaction with this unruly customer. Just listen to that ridiculous hardcoreish shouting that comes in before the guitars even kick up, and you know there's not going to be anything worth remembering here. Even the rest of the song doesn't sound any better; just a bunch of groovy, no-talent nonsense from a band that truly cannot write music anymore. I can't really call what the guitars are doing a "riff," as it is really just a chunk of slightly wet, mildewy slush that rides along at a snail's pace like a dying soldier crawling back to his trench for one last sip of water - and with all the grace and articulation of a snail, at that. "Unafraid" is next, and it's also very embarrassing and inept, featuring the novel concept of using nothing but interview clips with soldiers instead of the verses - leaving Geoff Tate's weakened, dried out croon to belt out a shitty, shitty nu-metal chorus that they ought to be ashamed of. And just listen to those muted guitars; it's like they weren't even trying to write music at all. It's like they just remembered at the last second that they were making a real music album to be released world wide, and just added this shitty-ass plunking at the last minute. In fact, a lot of songs on here are like that.
The rest of the stuff on here ranges from boring, droning crap with melodies so dry that they barely even register with the ear, like "Hundred Mile Stare" and "Middle of Hell," which show the band at their most dilapidated and uninspired yet, barely even able to lift their rifles off the ground, and also horrendously written groove metal like "The Killer," which has this hideously bad riff and a chorus that keeps trying to claim me for the enemy troops as it bashes me over the head with its blunt rifle butt. And the other songs? They have actually captured me as a prisoner of war here, and are now subjecting me to horrible tortures to get me to reveal hidden information. Help, I'm drowning in bad mellow rock music! Help, I'm being crushed by the weight of Geoff Tate's vocal layering equipment! Oh God, they're bringing in a ten year old girl to sing guest vocals, and she actually sounds more competent than Tate himself! Oh, the humanity!
Phew, a narrow escape from the jaws of death! "Remember Me"? I don't think I'm going to, Queensryche. "Man Down"? Yep, that would accurately describe me after this album ends. "At 30,000 feet"? I wish I was that far away from this piece of shit! "If I Were King"? If I were king, I'd ban this album from my kingdom, that's for sure. "The Voice"? Exactly what Mr. Geoff Tate doesn't have anymore!
But in all seriousness, really, what else am I supposed to say? There's nothing on this piece of incoherent, shuffling shamble of an album that resembles...anything! It's the biggest and most unpleasant collection of nothing I've ever heard in my life. There are no hooks here, there is no creativity, no musical nuances, no energy, no talent...nothing that resembles art or entertainment at all. The "songs" (I can only call them that in the loosest sense of the word) have no climaxes or build-ups; they just sort of plod along until the band decides it's time for them to die. This album is actually physically painful to listen to, beyond human comprehension. There is bad, there is god-awful, there is sinful and then there are albums like this one that just defy all conventions of normal sucking and go into realms previously not traveled by humans. Yes, this is the absolute worst, the very worst rock music can ever get. There has never been anything this bad, and it's doubtful there ever will be again. It is so unbelievably worthless, so monumentally terrible and awful that it actually becomes fascinating at times. Thank you, Queensryche, for giving me a new standard by which to measure unholy aural douchebaggery. You will be duly remembered for that, at the very least. And duly ridiculed for it.
I know it's nice that they're supporting American soldiers and all, as that is a very worthy cause that more people should support, but...are we really going to let this pile of dung be the poster child for our patriotism? I would be absolutely mortified if I was a soldier, gave an interview to these guys, and then heard my voice layered over this crap. I would be tremendously embarrassed. So with this last thought, I leave you: Queensryche's American Soldier is truly a spectacle, an album so bad that it actually works against itself. It is so terrible and sinful that I wouldn't be surprised if it actually turned people OFF to the American cause, instead of on. Goodbye, goodnight and good riddance, Queensryche. And support the troops, you all: don't buy American Soldier.