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Hey, no offence to the die hard Queensryche fans, but seriously, what the hell has this band really done except Operation Mindcrime? Their first two albums can be categorized as “poor man’s Iron Maiden” while Empire was merely ‘good’. As for the rest of their stuff, no one really gives a shit, at least I don’t. Even the sequel to their classic was more like a desperate cry for approval than a revival of old glory.
Yet, these guys (for reasons beyond my understanding) are one of the most widely known metal bands in the world. Now I didn’t have any high expectations from this release either but come on, these are just silly inconsistent simple rock songs which are anything but progressive, or for that matter even metal. Is it the line up change, nop, can’t be. Except for Chris DeGarmo all original members are there, and this is a band which was formed back in ’81, so what’s with this modern shit?
There are countless bands who went soft/mainstream but the thing is that some did it right and some didn’t. Off the top of my head, I’d say Anathema is an example of the former but this band here definitely belongs to the latter.
Anyway, one thing is clear is that this album sucks from the very beginning. The first song, Sliver, sounds like Limp Bizkit going in a slightly more 80s metal direction. I wouldn’t say the guitar work is bad, but the vocal lines have this groovy feel to it which manages to be worse than what I heard on Death Magnetic. Also, if someone told me this wasn’t Geoff Tate, I would probably believe him. Coming to the second track, Unafraid, they are back with their irritating brass sections and unusually loud background voices. The vocals are again unmemorable and boring, though the solo manages to get your attention for a moment.
All songs try a little this and that here and there but the album as a whole stays flat and very rarely impresses or stands out. The songs can be differed between after just two or three listens but then instead of “catchy” or “full of variety” I would use the words “confused” and “amateurish”. The tempos are very slow which only adds to the crappiness of the album. The guitar work, while not bad, is unchallenging and uninspiring. Michael Wilton tries his best to minimise power chords but ends up limiting himself to basic chord progressions and lead tunes. The bottom line is that he takes the easy way out and doesn’t provide anything new at all. Even Geoff Tate’s unique and usually amazing vocals are not able to save this album, why; because he doesn’t sound like his high-pitched self but more like some guy from a pop band like Maroon 5 or something.