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I'm reading all of these glowing reviews of Hear in the Now Frontier on this site, and I feel like I just don't get it. Am I even listening to the same album?
This is Queensryche. Or so it says. And it features all 5 original members. Yeah, that's Geoff Tate's voice, but what the fuck is going on with the dumbed down, grungy riffs?
Welcome to the Now Frontier! Simultaneously an identity crisis and a harbinger of the darkest days of Queensryche's existence. Gone are the exquisite, moody solos. Gone are the quasi-technical riffs. In fact, there really aren't any riffs on here...just dumbed down rock jams. Geoff Tate sounds good. No real upper range, but that's not really necessary. Scott and Ed Bass are a solid rhthym section...and they better be on such trite drivel. This is just dumb, dumb, dumb
Grunge was all the rage in the 90's. So Queensryche tried to cash in on it. Sadly, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and even fucking Green Day did it way better than this. You can tell Michael and Chris are capable of much better riffage than what is present on here, and that they are pretty inept at coming up with convincing simple rock.
There is one moment where it works really well, and that's on the gloomy closer, "Spool." It sounds like they took a few hints from the mighty Alice In Chains on how to do a brand of grunge that is more in line with what Queensryche is known for. This song works well, recalls a bit of Promised Land, and provides really the only enjoyable part of an otherwise dull album.
Hear in the Now Frontier is strikingly similar to Metallica's mid 90's output, but lacking anything of real depth, or intriguing experimentation. And like Load and Reload, it is excruciatingly long. Devoid of real highlights, catchy melodies, or moody interludes, I am at a loss to recall any particular moments after having listened to it, save "Spool."
This album sucked when it came out. I hated it. Now, 15 years later, I only begrudge that fact that it is taking up a bit of space in my album collection. That does not, however, warrant it ever gracing my ears again. Inoffensive enough, but utterly forgettable and a failure at selling out.