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Q2k is an album most people instantly throw in the trashcan after hearing it. Why? Queensrÿche is pursuing a different style, once again. While fans want nothing but progressive metal, the band tends to give them less and less of that genre. Now, what is this new genre and what is the result of this experimenting with new genres? It seems there are more alternative rock influences here than before. If you thought Q2k’s predecessor was clean of metal, then you should definitely check this one out. A total departure from anything they did before. About the result, I have mixed feelings.
It sure was a hard time for Queensrÿche back then in 1999. Their record company EMI America went bankrupt, Chris DeGarmo left the band and it sure weren’t the best days for their kind of music. I can imagine they wanted to do something totally new, something that would get them back in the picture. As I read in the booklet of the 2006 re-master, they were practically broke at that time. I can imagine their choice to try and pursue a style that is a bit more mainstream, hence the alternative rock style. And so Q2k was born. Personally, I don’t really mind bands trying something new. Mostly I like that a lot, such as the Scorpions’ Eye II Eye effort from 1999, and Sonata Arctica’s Unia from 2007. However, I’m not very sure about this release. Let’s go into the music a bit more.
That Queensrÿche pursued a different style here, we know. But did they pass the test? I am no expert at alternative rock, but I can judge the songs on what they are. About fifty percent of the songs suck and fifty percent doesn’t. Yet there are no standout tracks and there is no overall attractiveness. Although some songs get to hook themselves somewhere in the back of your mind, there are no instantly catchy anthems like on previous albums. This is one very difficult release, sometimes I really hate it and need to stop myself from throwing it away, but at other times I think I can appreciate it. At this moment, I can appreciate it, so I’ll keep this review nice, except when I really shouldn’t.
Stronger tracks on the album. “Falling Down” immediately comes to mind with the uplifting drum beat and the refreshing entrance by Geoff Tate. Even the guitar duel between Michael Wilton and newbie Kelly Gray has something you might like. Then “Sacred Ground” comes. A quite relaxing upbeat song. Dirty lyrics though. “One Life” is also enjoyable, perhaps one of the better songs of this album. Other stronger songs here are “When the Rain Comes”, “How Could I”, “Beside You”, “Liquid Sky” and “The Right Side of My Mind”. But please remember what I said, none of these songs are even comparable to stuff that features on Rage for Order or Promised Land.
Weak tracks. “Breakdown” would immediately be qualified for the worst song of the year. No, scratch that. It’s the worst song of the century. That guitar riff sounds so unbelievably uninspired. I could make that up in two seconds and I would never like it. Not liking metal, fine. Not wanting to make metal anymore, fine. But there is no excuse for an abomination as “Breakdown”. Then we have “Burning Man”. Ethically, this song is a scandal. This is just not a song you may write as a progmetal band, yet it has some kind of swinging vibe that makes you like it at some occasions. At other occasions, this might as well be one of the worst songs of the album. “Wot Kinda Man” is shamelessly misspelled with the means of being popular, which makes you hate the song instantly without having heard it. Now, I must say I hated the song for a long time. But actually it’s quite relaxing and laidback, and has variation throughout the verses, making it a decent song after all. It took some time before I realized that though.
Album closer “Right Side of my Mind” is one that would remind to earlier Rÿche releases like Promised Land. A worthy closer, even though it’s still in the Q2k style.
After lots of thinking and revising and drinking and sleeping, I may as well come to a conclusion. My problem is, however, that I still don’t know whether to like or to dislike this album. At times I can enjoy it, but at other times I really despise it. There are good songs on it, but the overall feeling of Q2k is a bit mellow and clumsy. I would almost go for a 50% rating, yet there is one thing that tells me to add 10%. The bonus tracks of the re-mastered edition! Indeed, those tracks were left off the original album, and that is really remarkable, since they are easily better songs than half of the others. Yeah, the bonustracks are great, except for the “Breakdown” radio edit of course, the only thing that makes this version thrive over the original is the reduced length, the sooner that song is finished the better.
To cut this long story short, Q2k is an album you will hate. Still I like it at times. They chose to pursue an entirely different style than before, and you will hate that. But this album has an entirely different purpose than the others, it’s more somewhat of a relaxing album. Now, I will not recommend it to you, unless you like alternative rock or are an open-minded Rÿche fan.
Strongest tracks (no re-master): Sacred Ground, One Life, and The Right Side of My Mind. And if you have the re-master, the bonus tracks of course.