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Dedicated to Chaos will always be remembered as the album that almost broke Queensryche. In addition to being panned by just about everyone that heard it (Including a few band members), it allowed many fans to see just how far the band had fallen and arguably contributed to Geoff Tate’s well-publicized departure in 2012. It was also the first album to feature Tate’s former son-in-law Parker Lundgren on guitar duties though this factor doesn’t speak for itself quite as much as it would in the near future…
Scott Rockenfield was right when he described this album as being “kind of like Rage [For Order] through a time tunnel,” but not in the way that he intended. While he probably made that statement as a plea or reassurance to longtime fans, Dedicated to Chaos and Rage For Order are similar in that they both experiment with a wide variety of styles and have lyrical themes that reflect the musicians’ states of mind at a given time. However, Rage unified those sounds with brilliant songwriting and thoughtful lyrics; Dedicated To Chaos just serves as a mass of stylistic confusion thanks to a bunch of hacks not knowing how to handle their midlife crises.
This can best be seen on tracks like “Got It Bad” and “Wot We Do,” easily the two worst songs ever released under the Queensryche name. The music combines jazz, R&B, and whatever else they could think of into these faceless blobs and the lyrics do their best to bring sex appeal to a group that generally kept their class even when singing about horny teenage boy fodder. One could argue that the cabaret flashbacks are merely an attempt at being campy but the pacing is far too slow and Tate’s sneering is more obnoxious than funny.
Speaking of obnoxious, the lyrics are easily the worst that Tate has ever put together. When he is not providing us with the sexual insights of a man that is just a year older than my dad, he becomes everything that The Warning warned us about as he goes on about his YouTubes, cell phones, and how having “those sunglasses on” is pretty much the most erotic thing ever. In short, it’s the perfect antithesis to their classic outlook.
But with that said, Queensryche can still pull off a few worthwhile moments even in the absolute nadir of their career, though it can be a pretty big stretch to really notice them. “Get Started” makes for a legitimately fun opener and continues the band’s occasional Rush parallels thanks to its “Far Cry” style pacing. Following that, “Hot Spot Junkie” is a goofy successor to “Damaged,” “Around The World” makes for okay U2 worship, and “Retail Therapy” is a decent Alice In Chains-esque grinder if you are capable of ignoring the crap lyrics on each of those songs…
But what really makes this album frustrating is how the actual performances are actually pretty good. The diminishing vocals fit in with the album’s smug tone and toned down style, the focus on the rhythm section was the closest thing the album had to a smart move, and the guitars still have a decent shine to them in the absence of actual riffs. It’s certainly nothing that makes the songwriting any better but it does provide a glimpse at what the band could’ve been capable of with the right material.
The most masochistic fan may find a song or two of value, but there is no doubt that Dedicated To Chaos is the lowest point of Queensryche’s career. Say what you will about Lulu or Illus Divinum Insanus (You know, the other two pieces of shit that came out in 2011), but there has never been a band that so blatantly spit in the faces of their principles while claiming to be still adhering to them. Just listen to Rage For Order if you want experimentation, Operation: Mindcrime or Empire if you want insightful lyrics, and the new one if you want to see just what Queensryche is truly capable of.
“Hot Spot Junkie”
“Around The World”
Originally published at http://psychicshorts.blogspot.com
While Dedicated to Chaos reminds me eerily of Queensrÿche 1997 disappointment Hear in the Now Frontier, I have to give some credit for its unintentional undercurrent of comedy. One might conjecture that, after the sinking success of the band internationally through diminishing sales and fan outrage at titles like Operation: Mindcrime II or American Soldier, the Washingtonians would come to their senses, reevaluated the lousy decision making process that flushed them through the shitter, and turn this rig around. But rational thought and earnest self preservation are not qualities we could associate with this band until more recently: they were clearly mismanaged, artistically bankrupt, and still thriving off the trickle-down success of their name recognition. There was still a dwindling fraction of the fan base that held out some hope for the greatness of their Golden era. If Metallica, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden could (arguably) turn their sounds around to matter once more, then why not the one mighty Queensrÿche?
I do appreciate this album more than the two before it, but really, that's like saying I enjoy being kicked in the balls more than having those same 'nads crushed via mallet. It still sucks, I just found myself cringing that much less in the process of revulsion that defined my relationship to the band's discography post-1994. As I stated, it has quite a lot in common with their sixth album, but there seems to be a darker atmosphere here that weaves its way into the selection of chords and glaring melodies that dominate tracks like "Hot Spot Junkie" and "At the Edge". A few pieces, like "Higher" would not have seemed all that out of place on their overrated 1990 smash Empire. Tracks "At the Edge" and "I Take You" practice a lot of the dark, almost tribal rock grooves omnipresent on Tribe. The choruses seem to nudge themselves slightly beyond those of American Soldier, not sticky to the brain but not entirely unpleasant when you're thrust into their presence. The band also experiments a little more with more electronic sounds, though these are usually delegated to intros ("Drive") or brief sequences in songs, rather than overwhelming experimentation, a tactic that, frankly, would have made for a stronger record in the long run, even if it alienated them further from their roots.
Rhythmically, this is Hear in the Now Frontier with slightly more meat to the guitars on the front end of the record, Michael Wilton reliving and reconfiguring the mediocrity of the prior 14 years. The drums are decent, with a nice pop to the snare and a more muscled execution in the mix than recent records. Where Tate uses his voice atmospherically, as in "At the Edge", to spark off the ambient bridge sequence, Dedicated to Chaos, there are hints of something far more interesting, which he then proceeds to shit on in the ensuing seconds as Jackson's bass builds back into the track. In addition, the lyrics are so thoroughly embarrassing through this record that I found myself laughing out loud in at least half a dozen places. They range from the plebeian and uninspired ("Get Started") to sheer, misdirected comedy, like "Hot Spot Junkie" and its musings on the internet: "get some wave time, air wave time, this Wifi frenzy world". This isn't Queensrÿche's first cautionary flirtation with the repercussions of technology induced into civilization: Rage for Order was littered with them; but where that sounded genuinely concerned, this is just fucking silly, especially in how Tate's vocal patterns attempt to make this all seem 'sexy' in delivery.
Queue the 'Caberet' tour, and try very hard not to choke on your own vomit. Yes, read the lyrics to "Got it Bad" and then picture in your imagination Geoff Tate trying to create sexual tension on stage with a bunch of strip...I'm sorry, 'dancers'. Seriously, go watch a video of this, and then gouge out your own eyes. It's worse than that time Dani Filth was dancing around with the painted gargoyle gals on tour. In attempting to tap into the social or antisocial 'current' of the internet and its devices, a society saturated with instant access, limitless pornography, Facebook/Twitter bullying, and scandal, Queensrÿche ends up seeming treacherously dated and lame; coupled with the mundane and often inane level of musical composition, you've got yet another in a long line of stinkers from this once proud and infinitely promising group, seemingly incapable of figuring out what they themselves, or their audience could possibly want from their music. I've got a hint for you, Q-boys: it begins with an 'm', and ends with an 'l'. Good to see you finally work that out on your own. I'm sorry the realization did not dawn on you any sooner.
I never thought Queensryche, progressive metal veterans, would ever release an album with literally no merit at all. Outside of great albums like Operation: Mindcrime and Rage for Order, I never really paid much attention to their albums into the 1990s and 2000s, though I did hear that there was a huge drop in quality on those albums, especially the ones released into the 2000s. But when I heard about all of the negative buzz surrounding 2011's Dedicated to Chaos, I had to give it a listen myself out of morbid curiosity. I must say, I was mortified to find out just how bad this album is.
So, just what is wrong with this album?
Firstly, there are no traces of metal on this album and I honestly don't think there are any progressive elements either. Not having metal influences isn't always a bad thing, but in this case it is, considering Queensryche were one of the pioneering progressive metal bands in the 1980s. A lot of the songs are nothing but soulless rock music with rambling vocals from singer Geoff Tate. Speaking of the vocals, the lyrics are terrible too. They mostly consist of cliches and pointless complaining about modern technology, case in point the lyrics for Hot Spot Junkie and Retail Therapy. Other times the lyrics are just weird, and not in a good way. Many of the tracks just meander and go nowhere, like Drive. All of these horrible songs culminate with Wot We Do. This was actually the first song I heard from the album when it came out last year and my jaw literally dropped to the floor when I heard this atrocious track. I couldn’t believe this horrid song was from the same band that made Operation: Mindcrime. I don't really know how to describe it. It's like a mix of hip hop and R&B with some jazzy undertones. This may have been suitable for a Geoff Tate solo album or something, but it does not belong on a Queensryche album. Though the track is only 3 minutes, 46 seconds long, it feels at least ten times as long, making for a very painful listening experience. The album mercifully ends with two more mediocre tracks, The Lie and Big Noize. Yes the last track is actually spelled like that. And both suck as much as every other song on this album and like their brethren, they go absolutely nowhere.
Avoid this album at all costs. This may be the worst album from a metal band that I have ever had the misfortune of listening to. There was literally nothing enjoyable about this album at all. Not a single track stands out. And it's sort of scary that a band like Queensryche, who used to be so great could fall this far and put out such a crap album. The album is about as flat, uninspired and boring as Queensryche's current live performances. Not to mention that at times, it's just completely embarrassing, case in point, the song Wot We Do. And it's way too long, at least the edition I got, being the deluxe version.
Queensryche, ya blew it! You made a terrible album, actually one of the worst albums I've ever heard from a metal band.
To say that Queensrÿche don't give a fuck anymore is such a heavy understatement that it'd probably outweigh all the metal on this site. It is right up there with gems such as; "our economy is in a bad place right now!" Queensrÿche's apathy towards the state of metal does not only include ignoring the basic laws of crafting memorable tunes, it has also extended into them abstaining entirely from the glories of aesthetics. The band cares not for logos and has not had one concretely associated with them since those seemingly infinite days of Mindcrime (seemingly infinite because they still insist on playing the damned thing live in its entirety). The album art for "Dedicated To Chaos" aside from being a real shoddy job lacks any character and warmth and promises doom long before you push play. It is an ugly drawing of an ugly contraption that seems to scream; "APPROACH WITH MIGHTY TREPIDATION!"
But being the fools we are we head right in! As if "Q2K" and "American Soldier" weren't proof enough that the 'Ryche was over we still choose to suffer another illogical audio affliction. Perhaps because we feel the band that made the masterpiece that was "Operation:Mindcrime" can redeem itself? Clearly those days are behind them. Tate and friends took little steps down the shit hole from whence no one returns unstained with each album "Promised Land" onwards that by the time "Q2K" came lumbering to the brim they were severely rolling in deep sludge. We made excuses on their behalf and tried to evaluate their changes with a bit of perspective but if a band insists on consistently churning out garbage even the most patient of fans has to soon run out of excuses, don't they? Savatage's "Streets: A Rock Opera" can be conceived of as a mere glitch and Dio's "Angry Machines" a momentary lapse. Reason being that both those bands later returned with banging albums that now those records sound logical and contributory to their legacies. The 'Ryche on the other hand has failed to recover from the fall that was "American Soldier" and has shuddered upon us another diabolical release.
"How bad is this album?" I hear you ask, you wretched sadist who comes to mock the walking corpses of yesteryear's metal greats.
I'll oblige ya. This album is bad to the bone. "Bad" is a primal quality of this album. It is firstly "bad" and everything else later. It is as "bad" as Michael Jackson. It is Queensryche re-imagining themselves as Progressive rock legends who've left the excesses and adventures behind to settle down and make mature music that best fits their age. Even on paper that never sounds good. Rush and Jethro Tull may have been able to make smooth reasonable transitions but Journey and Genesis ended up kissing the radio's arse. Yet for the life of me, I can't seem to name a single record from those guys that matches the level of disgrace exhibited here.
Not a single song on "Dedicated To Chaos" retains any redeeming qualities. There is a starkly naked absence of guitar riffs. Michael Wilton sounds emasculated and lifeless - no wonder he was unhappy with the results. Eddie Jackson's bass sounds as beefy as usual but since when has that been the reason to buy a metal album. The lyrics look like a mishmash of half baked ideas that weren't given time to be even remotely coherent. Geoff Tate rambles through them sounding uninspired and bored and in turn boring the listener.
"Around The World" sounds like a U2 song. I'd have said; "like a bad U2 song", but as far as concerns me, all U2 songs are bad. But it does sound like the only one that is reasonably musical - and there's 15 more to check out if you feel up to the punishment. I won't comment on them because I was never one to drag a corpse through the stony streets. Suffice to say, I am not a hater for I used to hold this band in such high regard. One thing's for sure though, I am done making excuses for Queensryche.
Merciless have the ‘fans’ and critics been as they relentlessly denigrated this album and the band’s current status, citing reasons as ‘weak, boring songs’ or ‘commercial sellout’ for the album’s lack of quality, or even the ‘lack of metal’. How could Queensrÿche, which should be a metal band, make fine albums if it’s not metal? And then there are people claiming the lack of metal is not why they failed on this album. Want to hear my side of the story? These ‘fans’ and critics don’t have large fantasy or the capability to empathize with a band or that band’s full-length, when it doesn’t quite match their expectations. Allow me to explain to the very detail.
How many times have (or haven’t, takes less time to count) we read how weak and useless opener “Get Started” is and especially as the opening track for this infamous record. Reasons as ‘mellow riff’ or ‘no balls’ were used to point out that the song is quite numb. Well, the song indeed doesn’t kick your balls off and it doesn’t go right in your face. Even more, it’s not metal. The Rÿche have made albums before that evaded the metal genre, but never have they sounded so tame, especially not on an opening track. What is wrong here? And have you heard that single? “Wot We Do” is its name. I have read tons and tons of people hating that song for the very R’NB influence that flows throughout. How on earth could the creators of masterpiece Operation: Mindcrime (only the first part) have decided to throw in a brass section and to leave out the distorted guitars? I have also seen multiple criticisms about lyrics to the song “Retail Therapy”, which deal with apps on a phone. It is said this item is not worthy to put in a song as lyrics and it might be proof that Queensrÿche is trying to connect to the younger audience, thus selling out commercially. That statement would be supported heavily by the popular song titles (“Hot Spot Junkie”) and especially the wrongly (read: popularly) spelled ones like “Big Noize”, “Luvnu” and the previously mentioned “Wot We Do”. And if that wasn’t enough, we would be to believe that the album wouldn’t get exciting at any point and that, an essential piece of criticism, the guitar sound is weak and forced to the background or even replaced (by a brass section for example). Michael Wilton even stated in an interview that he didn’t really like the album, but was reprimanded by the rest of the band and was forced to state on the band’s site that he enjoyed the album a lot.
Phew… if that all were to be believed, one was to think Queensrÿche lost their mind; made one hell of a sucky album; were no longer a cohesive unit as a band; and were trying to connect to younger audiences and to make hit singles. It probably takes a very strong and open mind for a Queensrÿche-fan to be able to like this record. I guess I probably am. Let me explain to the very detail why Queensrÿche chose this direction and let me explain as equally detailed why I like it so much.
Queensrÿche is a band with the will to experiment. They almost never do the same thing twice and the one time they did try to with Operation: Mindcrime 2, they failed shamefully. No, this band is better off treading new grounds and finding new ways to play music for themselves. If they left the metal scene it’s because they have nothing more to say in the metal language and learn to speak new languages. The experiment of 2011 is the present. The now. You walk around town in a random street. Look around you, what do you see? A car driving past you; the wind blowing; the occasional passer-by, possibly with headphones plugged in; mothers that just dropped off their kid at school, determined to quickly pick up some groceries and then head off for an appointment with a good friend, a dentist or a pedicure. Either way, you’ll get my point: life is hectic nowadays. It moves fast and there’s little time to just do nothing. With internet, everything is possible and within reach. There’s no excuse not to have done something these days because it is all possible. Everyone is reachable at all times, as everyone carries their mobile phones with them day and night. The band took this very theme as the main theme for the album and you must understand it is a very important aspect of Dedicated to Chaos. Today’s life is fast and we find ways to speed things up: faster internet; multi-tasking; special abbreviations and orthography for text messages and chat sites and what not. To capture the spirit of the themes, song titles in these so called ‘popular languages’ were used. The title “Luvnu” for example fits perfectly within this concept.
‘Rock music is no longer the music of the times,’ said Geoff Tate in an interview. He is right. In order to stick more to the concept the band decided to structure their songs around the rhythm of the now. Drummer Rockenfield and bassist Jackson have developed a rhythm section as solid as ever, but now built around the alternative world of today. Guitarist Wilton might not be as much in the spotlight as he was back in the metal days, but he plays a role reminiscent of any guitar player in a alternative/pop band and even though his playing is more subtle here, it adds so much to the music and he has a beautifully tight guitar sound. Vocalist Tate is in an ever-inspiring shape as he leads us through this new-found landscape with his warm, recognizable and above all outstanding vocals. If there’s any singer who I’d never get tired of it’s Geoff Tate. He’s really got the groove. The multicultural, ever-changing society of today results in the huge diversity of the songs themselves. We have laid-back grooves on “Got it Bad”; a Coldplay-ish pop song in “Around the World”; alternative rock on “Hot Spot Junkie”; classic Queensrÿche on “At the Edge”; a funky track with “Drive”; the hip-hop/R’NB influenced single “Wot We Do”; and an atmospheric, hypnotizing and very intense album closer “Big Noize”. It requires a tolerant taste, but if you can let go of your stylistic principles you should find yourselves enjoying the album, even though “Wot We Do” sounds sinful at first.
Yes, it’s chaos. Life is chaos. Queensrÿche dedicate this album to chaos. But it’s albums like these that make this band to one of my all-time favorites. Experimental to the full and totally dedicated to the concept. The most important part of the album for the listener is to understand the concept before criticizing lyrical content. As a suitable close to the review, let me cite a few of the lyrics, which are by the way outstanding, that can be interpreted to be about the album.
“We can’t get what we’re looking for unless we break some rules.” – Get Started
“All these changes, all these re-arranging starts with me if I want more” – Around the World
“Time to look at what’s behind closed doors” – At the Edge
“When you’re backseat driving keep your hands off the wheel” – Drive
“It’s much more fun when everyone surrenders” – Wot We Do
“Time to change the view” – Get Started
Strongest tracks: “Hot Spot Junkie”, “At the Edge”, “Drive” and “Wot We Do”.
With American Soldier, Queensryche killed their career. With this album, they've dimmed the lights, drawn back the blinds, put on some romantic music, and have begun sexually molesting their career's corpse.
You can almost admire the audacity with which they've sold out now. No more maddening half-and-half albums. No more compromising with their old style. No more "write a token metal song here and there to keep stringing our fans along". They've thrown out all pretenses of being a metal band, and if you buy a Queensryche album now you deserve exactly what you get.
"Dedicated to Chaos" is nearly the weakest, wussiest album you've ever heard, it's not heavy, it's not interesting, there are no hooks, you can see occasional references to bands like Coldplay and U2, but otherwise there's NOTHING. Listen to the opening track, "Get Started". It's a Foo Fighters riff followed by three minutes of the band chasing their tail. There is zero reason for this song to exist, and most of stuff on here is like that. You get the sense that the band would have released a CD containing 70 minutes of silence but the label put their foot down.
By track two it's obvious that the album is going nowhere fast. "Hot Spot Junkie" sees these four middle-aged shrubs trying their precious little hearts out to name-drop popular internet sites. "All the pictures on Youtube"...I quit. Your guys probably had to rewrite the lyrics already when someone told you that computers don't have gas tanks. "Got It Bad" is a really crappy and weak clone of Van Halen's "I'll Wait."
If you're looking for good music here, "At the Edge" is the closest place. The weak production and lifeless guitar tone hurts it badly, but there's an atmosphere, and that's something missing from the rest of this album. "Retail Therapy"...If you like this stuff, I hear Korn has a new album out. Nice lyrics too. I'm sure all Operation Mindcrime fans are just dying to hear a song about how people go shopping to help deal with the symptoms of mild depression. METUUUUHHHLLL.
"Wot We Do" is a hellish pukestorm of shit that I hate, hate, hate with every fibre of my body and soul. Guys, why do you hate your fans? Why do you write shit like this? This is good music like a bucket of elephant diarrhea is effective hospital sanitation. Between the anodyne R'n'B music and Tate's leering, obnoxious, "aren't I awful?" vocal delivery, this is easily the album's worst song. Three and a half minutes of poison.
Rounding out this incredibly gay album we have "Big Noize". From the title, I thought it was going to be a limp-wristed cock-rock song a'la Empire. In fact...it's something far weirder. There's ambience and keyboards and industrial noises vide Nine Inch Nails and...is the song starting yet? It goes nowhere. This is not a song. This is a six and a half minute failed studio experiment. Don't waste a single second of your life listening to this thing.
This is not an album you want to hear, look at, or even think about. Avoid, because if you even so much as read the tracklisting on the back of the CD it will have taken more out of your life than it can ever give back.
Okay, so we all know the 'Ryche stopped playing music at least fifteen years ago. They suck so bad now that even the most die hard fans come prepared for a shitacular flow of raw sewage each decrepit day these braindead "musicians" decide to disease society further with a new release. But quite frankly, this is just getting ridiculous now. Dedicated to Chaos takes modern rock to a new level of worthlessness, a new nadir of utmost stupidity and apathy. Queensrÿche's got everything you need right here: groove boogie tracks, psychodelic tunes, quiet understated songs, and pop cockrock anthems. If that sounds appealing to you, then oh boy, do you have a hefty bounty of S&M pleasure comin' your way! What could be worse than a new Queensrÿche album? A really freaking long Queensryche album. Sixteen tracks and 70 minutes await you here. Who needs waterboarding? The US will be unstoppable with this in our grasp!
I'm not sure how to describe this since I'm used to reviewing music. Warning: Contents may be fatal. Imagine a mix of worthless Green Day impersonations, a rap-rock feel, U2/Coldplay elements, spacey hippie rock (the most common substance), and lyrics that encompass highly substantial issues like using a fucking cell phone. I'm serious. Look no further than "Hot Spot Junkie" for thought-provoking prose like "I'm addicted to the wifi way, I'm addicted to the wifi way" and "Retail Therapy," a song filled through and through with inspirational lines including, but not limited to, this entire verse:
"Tryin' to find a bargain on a new cell phone
Gotta talk to somethin'
Can't stand the feelin' of bein' alone too long
Without feelin' like I'm gonna come unglued
I text and I text my every thought
But I'm gettin' nothing back
I've got sixty-two apps to keep me happy"
At least those aps can replace all the friends he undoubtedly lost with this piece of crap. Wait a minute, "gotta talk to somethin'?" So wait, he has no one to communicate with so he has to talk to the phone instead? Pfft. Whatever. Back to what's important. The album is essentally comprised of three acts. It starts off as pop rock, suddenly shifts to a calm setting, and then reprises its modern pop rock origins. Needless to say, all three are equally deprived of value. Geoff Tate has the last speck of talent remaining in this band, but he's wasting his time here. His vocals come effortlessly, and they obviously hold some charm and likability, but that doesn't really matter since everything else barely resembles the Queensrÿche we all used to know and love. He doesn't try very hard either, but they could still put something of value around his distinctive sound. Now we just get stuff like "Wot We Do," which is, get ready for this one, a rap song. Don't believe me? Okay, just listen to it. You'll see.
When it comes to being the worst of 2011, Illud Divinum Insanus might have been a complete failure, but at least it was an interesting one. Dedicated to Chaos doesn't even manage to do that. Queensryche should now hold the distinction for somehow making a sixteen song album in which not a single track is good. Or decent. Or even passably mediocre. This has all the creative quality of a thirteen-year old's garage mallcore band, except that it sounds like mainstream garbage. Heres what really pisses on my hushpuppies: If Queensrÿche just admitted their complete departure from the realm of metal, we could go our separate ways and I would never have to mention or think about them ever again; but no, they're in some strange denial that this is still metallically relevant. Geoff and the boys somehow compare Dedicated to Chaos to Rage for Order and Empire. It's twenty years too late, guys, just let it go. I'll end this review with a passionate plea: please, for the love of god, please stop playing music, Queensrÿche. Let us enjoy what you used to do without tarnishing it further.
The album title resumes in a quite perfect way the musical, lyrical and overall direction of Queensrÿche anno Domini 2011: "Dedicated to chaos".
Let’s say that Queensrÿche have surpassed their zenith of creativity since almost twenty years and desperately tried to get a connection to their roots with the disappointing “Operation: Mindrime II” and the weird conceptual record “American Soldier” which had a lot of lights and shades. As the last records still had some glimpses of what I have loved about Queensrÿche and as there were still some signs of hope and elements for a better future within those records, I defended those albums and was faithful to the band. But even for an open minded and patient fan of progressive music, the new record “Dedicated to chaos” seems to go too far in the beginning. But as I already expected to listen to the worst album of the year which I thought I had already heard with the last HammerFall record I got a big surprise after a while just like on the last record.
This album is kicks off so bad that I don’t know where to start. The last album had a guiding line while the first songs of this album don’t fit together at all. The sound of this album is more commercial and weak than ever. Queensrÿche seem to want to sound like a mixture of U2 and Three Doors Down but they don’t even get near at their level. Even the last Puddle of Mudd record seems to be masterpiece of rock music compared to the beginning of this release of Queensrÿche with songs like the faceless opener “Get started”. The ancient metal and progressive rock musicians have lost their feeling for haunting melodies, progressive structures, catchy hooks, gripping lyrics and emotional passages in here. A few plastic keyboards and artificial folk, jazz or symphonic sounds can’t take the place of the melodic guitar solos, pumping bass lines and intense vocals that have made this band famous. The band really “Got it bad” at many points in weird funk-folk-pop tracks with crappy radio sounds and “Around the world” has the same problem. “Higher” sounds like a mediocre plastic jazz track for a Phil Collins record with some modern metal influences. I mean that just the description of this is completely weird and they completely lose me there. It’s though still better like commercial attempts in the style of one dimensional modern metal tracks like “I take you” and “Hot spot junkie” that the band offers us on the album.
But once again the band got me by surprise after five truly horrible tracks. They suddenly pull out “At the edge” which is a rather calm, experimental and progressive song that reminds of the old days but is too hectic, weird and incoherent to entirely convince and strangely fits to the previous songs that had no focus either. But for the first time, there is a song on here that is surely intriguing and courageous but after so many boring pop songs I honestly ask myself what those guys smoked to write a strange track like this. The other epic track with the strange title “Big noise” that fits more to a hip hop record misses even more focus and goes straight nowhere in over six minutes. I don’t know if that’s something good or band in comparison to the first commercial songs. Sometimes, the band is very strange on this record and hard to follow. “I believe” has strange tribal drum loops, artificial oriental string sounds and vocal effects and sounds like a sound collage of a junkie. Those are the same ingredients as in “Got it bad” for example but this time the mixture is so experimental and lacks of focus that the radio pop fans might quickly feel frightened while the traditional fan just shakes his head and is taken by a surprise which could be as well positive as negative. The slow and somewhat weird “Luvn’u” or “The lie” could be tracks written by Jane’s Addiction or the Red Hot Chili Peppers in their weirdest eras and they need a lot of time to grow on me and sound simply like a mixture of weird and incoherent structures with experimental flows while having a commercial attempt at the same time. Even though those songs are hard to digest, I have never heard anything as strange as this and at least the band still surprises and is able to innovate in times like these.
But next to many too commercial or simply too weird and ambitious songs, there are also some true pearls that can be found on this record and that might be easier to be appreciated by the classic fans. The slow and haunting jazz ballad “Broken” and the very progressive “Hard times” hit into a calm and progressive same vein with dreamy lounge atmospheres, strange keyboard sounds and in the latter pumping bass lines. Those two songs happen to be probably the best tracks on the record. They have more focus than the other rather progressive songs and still add some new styles and elements to the band’s sound after so many years without sounding too modern, trendy and one dimensional. The songs don’t have anything to do with metal music but are great experiments and experiences for the band and their fans. “Drive” has pumping drum loops and a strange aggressive cold atmosphere and even though it sounds like a rather modern metal track, it has an addicting style and something more to offer. The song is monotonous but has many progressive little changes in style that make the whole thing a great listening experience. The jazzy passages of “Wot we do” that are used in a wrong and strange way several times on this record happen to sound fresh on this track that stands out as another highlight even though the song title is once again horrible. It’s a long time ago that Queensrÿche sounded as progressive as in the few mentioned tracks and after a terrible first third the band improves a lot.
In the end, this record is maybe the weirdest and most incoherent one I have ever listened to in my life. There are so many influences of different genres, weird ideas and experiments that the band could have created three albums with this material and they prove us that they still have something to say. The band is maybe more creative than ever in the last two decades but there is some soul, emotion and elegance missing that made those guys a pioneer band for many progressive rock and metal bands. I don’t know any other band that has fallen so down in a career and that went from a permanently excellent level on a permanently mediocre to low level. This album underlines the band’s fate.
They have nothing left to lose and nobody expects much from them but by risking so much as on this release, the band still loses focus and goes too hard into a commercial direction or too hard in a progressive direction. This record is difficult to digest and has a more than mellow start and appears to be the worst album of the band history in the beginning. Finally, there are some songs that find the right way between commercial attempts and progressive sounds and should hit the nerve of those who remained faithful to the band but this is not enough to justify a buy or give us a true sign of rehabilitation. This record is even more difficult to defend and appreciate as the last one.
Artistically, the band still has many possibilities, ideas and creative moments that keep themselves alive until the next deception. But if they really want to come back to form the next time, the band should focus much more and release maybe two different records which should be one with rather modern and commercial sounds and the other one filled with weird and experimental sound collages. This record here asks multiples listening, a lot of patience and an open mind for different skills and styles. This record is the most difficult, uneasy and controversial one Queensrÿche have ever created even if I didn’t think this was possible. There is no truly catchy potential hit single or outstanding progressive track on the record and even if you see the album as a whole it seems completely disturbing and there are a lot of lights and shades. Listen to this at your own risks but when you do so take your time, be patient and don’t expect too much from the beginning on. Be sure to get the special edition as the four bonus tracks happen to belong to the better songs on this crazy record.
In the end, I must admit that this album might be a grower of the weirdest kind after a few tries. Just carry on and expect that this record is truly dedicated to chaos as I told you. My final rating is a mixture of positive surprises and bitter disappointments and seems much more ordinary than it really is if you have read my whole review.