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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.