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This is truly a great album for Queensrÿche, their best since 1994's PROMISED LAND. Every element of the band is ticking in perfect clockwork with each other, due in part to the dumping of musical retard Kelly Gray, and the assistance of Chris DeGarmo in the studio sessions. Of course, the true god in Queensryche is Geoff Tate, and his vocals are en fuego the entire time, searing beams of light and thunder (that thar's a lyric o' theirs) to lay on the band's musical skills. So without further ado, here is my review of Queensryche's superior TRIBE album. Enjoy.
1. Open- The album kicks off with a resounding bang of pure power. If you want a preview of the album, go to my MySpace and foot tap along to this song. Geoff's vocal kicks off in perfect key, and Eddie Jackson has one of his very sparse bass solos right before a beautiful a cappella of the refrain ("Open your eyes"). The elements all come together in what has become TRIBE's only bonafide hit tune, and a live favorite since (except on the tour I saw ). Great start to a great album.
2. Losing Myself- This one sees Geoff singing about something many former fans of the band (i.e. losers) hate him for: love. Not of the non-believing variety, either, this one's about being deeply immersed in love. Or something like that, it's also about riding down a desert highway, so I guess it's fairly open to interpretation... Anyhow, the whole band is in synch for the tune, as always, and while it's one of the most enjoyable on the album, don't search too hard for the impeccable proginess or musicianship, it really isn't there in much abundance.
3. Desert Dance- One of the album's best songs (tied with the other nine ), "Desert Dance" has a semi-annoying refrain of "Keep reachin'!" that recurs once too often. That aside, this is a happy headbang all the way through, and another not to ponder too hard. Queensryche were a lot about having fun for this album, or so it would seem to this point. No one can complain that this song isn't good, but I grant you the right to be annoyed at the "Keep reachin'!" part. You just can't dislike the song.
4. Falling Behind- This is truly one of the songs artistic showpieces. Shedding all of their preconceived notions of being metal for the album, they dig back into their souls and pull out a "let's all get along" acoustic piece. This one has a bit of a weird story. For some reason I kept singing its bridge as waves were crashing into me at the ocean last year. Why? Maybe that "bring it on" line, but for some reason there's a much less metal Manowar feel to this one, a feeling of unity and power. The only electric note you hear is the ringing out at the very end, and it's fine by me. "Silent Lucidity" was their hit, so I suppose they shouldn't ignore their acoustic side.
5. The Great Divide- If I have to pick a weak track---which I absolutely don't want to---it's this one. I have no major complaints with it, but it just doesn't "do it for me". The chorus is powerful and partially based in 9/11, as Geoff dug into himself to find the meaning of life after the national tragedy. It's not as good as Iced Earth's "When the Eagle Cries", but that's not why I'm calling it the weakest. You know what? Screw it. This song owns. TRIBE has no weak song. Sorry for wasting your time. If you want to feel some true national pride while still enjoying Queensryche (which who doesn't?), listen to this song and repeatedly say "I love America". It works. I mean it.
6. Rhythm of Hope- A short song, and the closest thing on the album to what I'd call a ballad, "Rhythm of Hope" is really just what its title implies. It's something to listen to when you feel sorry for yourself and still want to listen to some Queensryche (which who doesn't? (see a pattern?)), and instead of bringing you back up through co-misery (a la Type O Negative, Opeth's DAMNATION, and some select Alice in Chains and Soundgarden), it brings you back up by being hopeful and encouraging, telling you to "keep reaching for the light" and "searching for something that moves your soul". Truly uplifting words in the album's shortest track.
7. Tribe- Gotta have the title track. This might be the closest thing to a full-on heavy metal assault on the album with it bestial, insistent riffage and the soaring '80s glory vocals in the chorus. Tate uses is incredibly lower register for the faux-rapped verses (think Silent Lucidity meets Vanilla Ice...umm...no, nevermind, don't think that) and to great effect. Bass takes the front seat again for a good deal of the song, especially the low verses. Geoff's mind was on unity when he made this, and the lyrics encourage us, the fanbase, that we're all of the same tribe, which the liner notes defines as: "a gathering togeteher of a people with a learned commonality". Heady stuff.
8. Blood- Computers and digital recorders did more work on this song than elsewhere on the album, as shown in the muffled intro (think Slayer's "Ghosts of War" intro; it doesn't come in all the way until after awhile) and the muffled vocals in the chorus. This song may be the most "about nothing" song on the album. The lyrics seem uplifting, but in a bizzare, meaningless way that I cannot explain. I think Geoff is blaming we the people for society's flaws ("It's all gone wrong; there's blood upon our hands"), but one can't be sure, because the verses, while cool, are without obvious meaning. Musically, everything meshes, and this one could very possibly be my favorite song on the album. I know there was a period of time where it undisputably was.
9. The Art of Life- Name-dropped a year later on a live CD/DVD release, "The Art of Life" is a good instance of making a good song with a good singer, and having him simply talk the vocals. The only actual singing is in the chorus, which makes this very interesting. The semi-concept album aspect of TRIBE comes full circle on this song, with Geoff simply picking up a mic and speaking his philosophy while chunky guitar and low-end bash out a persistent beat. This philosophy is one that culminates in the following: "We must challenge and defeat our four natural enemies: clarity, fear, power, and the desire to rest". Umm...I guess so.
10. Doin' Fine- A challenger for the title of best song on the album, this song again agrees with the concept idea for the album, with "The Art of Life" being the climax, this being the denoument. The laid-back feel of this song allows one to envision Geoff and the gang sitting in rocking chairs outside of a Cracker Barrel and saying: "We're doin' just fine." Maybe that's just me, I dunno. This is the culmination of the alleged story in that, having conquered everything along the way, now we should all be doin' fine. And I tell you this: if you've been listening to the album in its entirety, you should be doin' just fine. In fact, you should be practically grinning. Everything that could possibly go right in this song does. I love it, and on the next line, I'm going to put a lyric from it that has adorned many a thing of mine, and I absolutely endorse and love.
"We'll know all the answers
Once we stop this judgment game
And realize deep down
We're the same"
Damn right we are, peace out.