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I’ve heard lots of people say the following about Queensrÿche: “what the hell are they doing?” This question is probably a consequence of the mediocre Q2k release and the different style they seem to be pursuing. Well, fortunately their 2003 release Tribe will give us the answer to the mystery. Where Q2k, I’ll quote Geoff Tate himself, “was an album by a band trying to redefine who they were”, Tribe is an album with a band that is done redefining and is ready to play some kickass laidback rock music, with subtle progressive influences. Sure, it is no longer the progmetal that we all heard from these guys in earlier years, but time goes on, and bands renew themselves, which is very good. Bands must always challenge themselves and seek to renew themselves, and yet stay the same. Fans on the other hand, especially metal fans (I speak out of experience here), often have trouble with a band that tries out something different and new.
Now, enough talk about bands renewing themselves... how did it work out for Queensrÿche? What is Tribe? Well, Tribe is a very impressive and relaxing effort. Though I hear people often complaining that this is not metal, there are very relaxing heavy guitar riffs throughout the album. I might say relaxed here, but energy ís flowing throughout various songs in the album. The heavy “Open” for example is a relaxing song, yet it fills you with energy unknown. What I really like about the album is the exotic feel to it. The exotic use of the tom-tom drums in “Losing Myself” and “Tribe” and the eastern feel to “Desert Dance” are so refreshing, they really add things to the album. Furthermore, I’d like to praise “Rhythm of Hope” for being the best ballad on the album.
Does this album have downsides? The way I write it all, it might seem that this album is paradise. Well, there is a reason that I gave this album only 95%, and not the full hundred. The last two songs are not weak, but they tend to be less strong than the others. “The Art of Life” is a mid-tempo rocker with spoken verses, that don’t really get to me, though the chorus is very satisfying. “Doin’ Fine” is a very relaxing album closer, though I can’t really figure out why they choose that song to close the album. It just has a feel to it that doesn’t do it for me. It is perhaps the song that reminds the most of Tribe’s predecessor Q2k. But in the end, the downsides of the album totally disappear compared to the overall Tribe album.
Here’s to naysayers of this album. Accept that Queensrÿche is no longer making the progmetal they made in the eighties. Accept that they try to renew themselves and that they wish to challenge themselves. If you plan to buy Tribe, then plan to “open your mind”, as the title track already suggests. Give this a chance, even though it is not your beloved metal. This album is a jewel, if only you want it to. It will be your new favorite album, if you’d give it a chance to.
To make this long story short, Tribe is amazing. From beginning to end, stunning. From head to toe, complete variation. I give this absolute recommendation if you are prepared to open your mind. This album belongs to my Queensrÿche favorites. And believe me, I set the bar high.
Strongest tracks: Losing Myself, Desert Dance, The Great Divide, Rhythm of Hope, and Tribe.