without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Ah, Queensyche, what a shame it is to write this review. A band who once was at the top of the power/progressive genre along with contemporaries such as Fates Warning. Both bands, similar in style if not execution on their debuts, have evolved in extremely divergent paths. Queensryche headed towards a more commercial sound as the 80s wound to a close with 1990's Empire being markedly radio-friendly. Unlike a lot of people I've come across on this site who tend to dismiss Queensryche as worthless after 88's epic Mindcrime, I've listened to their entire catalogue from the first EP to the latest, unfortunately horrid, album American Soldier. I tend to ignore Tate and co. after Promised Land, one of my favorite albums, but there are a few good songs scattered here and there.
A problem with the band is their over-reliancy on a "team captain". From 1983-1997, this was Chris DeGarmo who departed under somewhat acrimonious terms. Without someone to write the majority of the songs and steer the ship, they released two horrible albums in Q2K and Tribe. Enter Jason Slater. Queensryche's producer for Operation: Mindcrime II, a below-average and desperate cash grab of an album. Along with touring guitarist Mike Stone, he and Tate wrote a vast majority of the album leaving most of the band behind credit-wise.
This brings us to 2009's American Soldier. A conceptual album about, shockingly, an American solider. While I am somewhat unsure of the actual storyline, press releases have referred to this as a concept album along the lines of the Mindcrimes. What we get is something below that of the inferior Mindcrime sequel and something that cannot begin to touch the 80s and early 90s discography. Thin guitars, boring basslines and a drummer who sounds like he's about to fall asleep, the instrumental section that was once so fun to listen to in times past is a mere shadow of itself. Geoff Tate, a guy who many are shitting on as turning in a poor performance, is someone I believe actually performs the most inspired out of the entire 4 piece. That's not to say he's singing all that well, but considering the shockingly poor performances of his bandmates, he is above them in that regard. Perhaps one of the reasons for such a poor showing is due to the fact they had little to no hand in writing this album. Jason Slater and Tate take over the majority of the writing and it shows. While DeGarmo was often credited as the team leader, he shared many song credits with his bandmates while Slater, Kelly Grey (member for a few years and the mixer, I believe, on this album) and Tate dominate the writing. Whoever is to blame, it doesn't matter. The album is poor in all areas: writing, production, execution and creativity.
Boring riffs fill the album along with useless soundbytes from soldiers interviewed. In one song, Unafraid, Tate had the "genius" idea of using the soundclips as the verses. This song, along with the boring riff in the background (it literally feels like its in the background of a room while everyone else is playing upfront), is one of the most insipid things I've ever listened to. American Soldier also moves along at a snail's pace never really increasing speed at all which only adds to the dullness.
This album is such a disappointment. Due to a certain Queensryche message board, I actually had this on pre-order and decided to listen to the *leak that came through to just to sate my appetite for new 'Ryche. Thank God because it saved me money that would have been wasted on such tripe. Despite the good spirited intent, this album is a failure on all accounts and is something that should be abhorred. Even fans of the mellower Queensryche in recent years will be disappointed. Avoid this album at all costs.
*This review was done after listening to the released version and not the leak, though I didn't hear any differences.