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DO NOT PLAGIARIZE! Plagiarism = instant loss! - 29%

Antilith, November 26th, 2017

Damnit, this is what I hate most about bands, who think they should go back in time and revive things that should just remain in the past, especially if time shows that they don't have what it needs to do this anymore.

First of all, you have a new singer, right? You have a singer who has clearly a heavier and more serious voice than his predecessor. Also, you have no frigging idea what you need to get the old 80s sound of your band, as it seems. In addition, you should have realized, that recycling music and style of a time that is clearly over just doesn't sound good, at least not in the genre you're moving along. I mean you're not Megadeth who just can decide to play some sickass riffs as a thrash metal band like band then when they were 20 and would be celebrated when they release the reincarnation of Peace Sells. So why do you consider to make an album that shall sound similar as the Warning or Rage for Order in a time when this just doesn't work anymore?

When I've listened to Condition Hüman, this was the first thing I was thinking about, especially after this totally weird Arrow of Time. I remembered the last album of Queensryche that contained this dark, heavy and more serious sound they developed to demonstrate their skills with their new singer Todd LaTorre, and back then I really believed that they will try to orientate more after Todd LaTorre with their new style or at least keep it how it was on the s/t 2013 album. And this was what annoyed me the most, after their last album they just decided to dump everything they started to develop on their last album and replace it with their old style they just are not able to recycle anymore.

Condition Hüman is barely listenable, since Queensryche just kinda wanted to apologize to their old fans and tried everything to get them back after all this trash they released compared to their first albums. And this is where you can find the problem, you just can't expect your fans to just listen to things they know already. This is not slam death metal, where nobody gives a fuck about that you play the same thing about an hour, cut it in short tracks and give it weird or longass names. There are some exceptions maybe, but as a band which always tried something new, even if the new things usually were awful, it is totally depressing to get 12 songs with something you more or less already had.

In the first listens I have a bit sympathy for Guardian, but also this song gets old very quick because Queensryche apparently don't know how to make a song sound unique, or at least interesting anymore. I mean seriously, you get rid of a member who ruined your band, and now you think in playing average stuff would be enough?

There are clearly three songs that remain listenable to me, called Hellfire with its slow marching and really catchy sound, Toxic Remedy, a semi-epic song with especially a good chorus and Hourglass that can keep the listener awake as well. The rest is totally mediocre and sometimes Queensryche even annoy the hell out of me, especially when they told Todd to howl the chorus over and over again as on Selfish Lives, or when he tries to sing a half-ballad but totally sounds cringy as on Just us.

If you really are a Queensryche fan, then stay away from this album because you have listened to these songs already, just in better versions. If you are just one of these old school back then everything was better and my band just got ruined over the time, I think you can get along with this album because you won't even care about that there is a different singer as long as you listen to the same over and over again.

Mass confusion, revered illusion - 55%

amiamok, October 9th, 2016

Condition Human presents us with Queensryche version 2.0 (the versions in the interim were just minor increments on version 1.0). Although fresh and different, this new avatar isn’t necessarily for the better. It seems the new Queensryche are trying to reinforce their new identity of a progressive metal band, whereas earlier putting them into a box wasn’t that easy. Condition Human isn’t a return to form, but it comes temptingly close before wandering off.

With the original Queensryche line-up, the song was king. Each song had a melodic and/or lyrical theme, and the melodies and progressions were built around that theme. With 2.0, muscle flexing seems to have taken precedence over that characteristic elegance of composition, signified by frequent, jarring progressions in an attempt to shed the melodic garb of old. At times, a seemingly random chord section will appear in the middle of the song; at others, the song will suddenly derail from the main theme. With the (relatively) new blood in the writing department in the form of guitarist Parker Lundgren and vocalist Todd LaTorre, the remnants of the classic Queensryche seem excited to break the mould. The phrasing is a feeble approximation compared to 1.0, who would craft the melodies, marinate the lyrics in them, and professionally plate the composition with subtle garnishing. The result with 2.0 is similar to a runny egg when you expect it to be hard-boiled and firm.

Melodies come but don’t stay; they don’t deftly slide into the next chord progression but rather get sprayed on to the listener. Odd time signatures are welcome, but with the tested reputation of Queensryche being ‘the thinking man’s metal band’, the listener hardly expects a showcase of musicianship as opposed to intelligent song craft. 2013’s self-titled record from the current line-up looked like a step in the right direction, but Condition Human does not follow it up. Although this review is in the vein of a rant because of my love and respect for this band, overall this album is not bad. It simply suffers from the trappings of trying to be ‘modern’. Attempts to make the record sound heavy are evident in the riffing style, and excessive guitar solos abound; this is totally unnecessary for a tenured band like Queensryche.

The record starts off on a solid promising note with songs on the first half (‘Arrow of Time’ and ‘Guardian’) that remind you of the classic Queensryche. They do sneak in the modern elements (read sudden unmelodic wanderings) that have been talked about in interviews into these songs, almost as if to foreshadow the offerings in the second half. After this, save for a few redeeming moments on ‘Toxic Remedy’ and ‘Eye9’, the rest of the album is a pool of drab, unmelodic meanderings. Apparently, modern now equals loss of melody.

One of the high points of Condition Human is the excellent sound production, and the instrumental performances are simply delightful. Todd LaTorre does an impeccable Geoff Tate impression. It is a part of the quintessential Queensryche sound, and LaTorre has been able to retain the old and still leave his own mark on it. Scott Rockenfield and Eddie Jackson are a thunderous duo on this one. The rhythm section is the only thing to be fairly excited about on this record. The guitar work only hints towards the band’s glorious past and features a lot of eager instrumentation.

In closing, Condition Human feels to me a departure from the greatness that this record could have been considering the promise shown on 2013’s Queensryche. I would redirect newcomers to check out Rage for Order or Operation: Mindcrime—maybe even Empire—to witness this band in their prime.

About as interesting as blank white wallpaper. - 58%

Empyreal, February 23rd, 2016

I just don't know what to make of Queensryche anymore. The de-facto response to this and their previous album is to laud them just because they're not the awful abominations that littered American Soldier - and it's true, this is better; but also I just don't think this new music is very good anyway. The guys are playing like their old selves again, but they're too conservative. The material on Condition Human is well-played and performed, with some nice melodies, but there isn't any spark or fire to it - the guys are just going through the motions. New singer Todd La Torre is very talented and he has sort of the quintessential voice for this style of melodic, sophisticated metal - a 50/50 mix between Bruce Dickinson and old Geoff Tate, sticking so faithfully to that tenet that you'd swear he didn't listen to anything but Maiden and old 'Ryche in the 80s. He gets in some good, hooky vocal bits on songs like "Hellfire" and "Eye9," and "Selfish Lives" is a genuine stand-out with its old-school shimmering chords and mysterious vibe - but that's really about it.

It's mostly just the songwriting that comes off as uninspired. This is very blase rock/metal with chugging, clean riffs and melodic, pretty-sounding solos, but there isn't really much to set it apart from any random 80s throwback bar band you'd find on a Friday night. That isn't to say it's un-skilled - it still sounds like a good bar band. But it's so vanilla and so generic that it's depressing that this is at least some of the same band that made Operation: Mindcrime and The Warning, both of which bursted with life from every seam and fucking forced you to pay attention because they were on fire with energy and vibrancy. The music on here is never bad or unpleasant, but every riff and every note sounds faceless; the kind of music you'd hear if they played metal in elevators or at lounge bars for background music. Every guitar riff and lick seems tailored to ship out for some video game studio to strip away the vocals and plug the music into the background of a Japanese racing game or something - it's just not really doing much. The music exists and that's it.

It's Queensryche's 13 or Surgical Steel - an old band recreating their best material but not with the same songwriting quality. This is too restrained and too uptight-sounding to be a truly emotional or visceral experience like it should be. It seems so focused on hitting the boxes for what Queensryche should sound like - melodic metal riffs, soaring vocals, widdly guitar solos - that it misses out on actual good songwriting. Everything here sounds like the band was forcefully pigeonholing their sound into a very tight box so as to avoid putting in even one thing that people might find questionable. It's very nervous, small-minded music that desperately wants you to like it, so it pulls back every punch it could have taken. This is clean, safe and dull all the way through.

And honestly, before you give into the impulse to laud this band for "breaking free" of Geoff Tate's nonsense all those years, remember that they had free will and went along with him on every experiment and every weird-ass turn for nearly 20 years. So I don't think this album says much for artistic integrity, frankly.

So happy to have you back! - 87%

autothrall, November 16th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Century Media Records

And now for some good news: I haven't liked a Queensrÿche album as much as Condition Hüman since they release Promised Land in 1994, which itself was probably the sole exception to the middling legacy they left behind in those times. Actually, strike that, because this is superior to even that. Whatever moons and planets in the universe required alignment have come together and shined fortune upon these gentlemen, and they've written the record that I really wished the eponymous 2013 title had been, with some aural pleasure to spare. Not only does it sound like the proper 21st century Queensrÿche so many of us have likely awaited, but it plays like new life for the band. Perhaps even breathing new life into a niche genre that so many have likely written off by now as nerdy detritus for musical theory students of a bygone era. And in the process, sandblasting Geoff Tate's Operation: Mindcrime debut as if it were a soup cracker.

Let me clarify...this is not EXACTLY the Queensrÿche of old, at least not in terms of how the music itself is structured. There are traces of that, with a more muscular sculpt to the guitars and a recognition of the groove and hard rock influences which informed much of their material over the last few decades. Todd La Torre maintains his best Geoff Tate impersonation while simultaneously shoveling in his own higher range by the truckload. In fact, he's the shining beacon of this affair, with a number of memorable chorus hooks that rival the best that bands like Fates Warning, Ivanhoe, Angra and their peers have produced in a very long time. The music is a hybrid of their 80s style and a few more modernized, groovy prog metal elements that characterize the verse hooks in cuts like "Guardian" and "Toxic Remedy". Atmospheric dual harmonies and gleaming leads are cautiously applied where they are most useful, and there are even moody moments prog metal moments in cuts like "Arrow of Time" which hearken back to stuff like Fates Warning's Perfect Symmetry. But holding it all together is La Torre's propensity to just soar across the skyline of the rhythm guitar and capture the ear every time.

Scott Rockenfield might not seem the most technical drummer by today's standards, but he charges what might otherwise be some standard hard rock riffing with a lot of genuine momentum and energy that strips away the listener's immunity. Love his fills here even if they're nothing new, and I'd say his performance plays second fiddle only to La Torre, as much as I like the guitars. The bass lines were probably never the forte of the band, yet Jackson's tone here is just perfect for placing such a simple low end to the busier melodies constantly frothing off the imaginations of Wilton and Lundgren. But what's even more impressive is just how damn well paced this album remains fairly weighted throughout, if not with the meat of the riffs than with the emotional impact of choruses in slower, more measured tunes like "Selfish Lives" and the beautiful "Bulletproof". No cheesy or weak ballads, included, even the record's softest cut "Just Us" is firm and memorable. Production is pristine, even elegant. Musicianship restrained to peak effectiveness. A few rungs below perfection, perhaps, but this is just such a joy to listen through, and for a good number of spins it was improving with each successive exposure. Pure class, and with this record, they can finally take back their seats near the head. Hell, they could teach it.


Arming Police Like The Military - 80%

Twisted_Psychology, November 10th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Century Media Records

There’s no denying that Queensryche’s 2013 album was a strong comeback for a band in serious need of revival. However, subsequent listens and knowing the outcome of their infamous legal drama makes one wonder if it set a high standard for future efforts or if it should’ve been a swansong signaling the debut of a brand new enterprise. Condition Human is certainly worthy of the Queensryche name but it has a different feel compared to everything before it.

Certain songs on here recall Rage For Order and Promised Land, but Condition Human sounds like a band influenced by Queensryche rather than the actual ensemble is performing it. The songwriting isn’t dramatically different but the quirks that made them unique such as Scott Rockenfield’s intricate drumming and the guitars’ melodic interplay aren’t as prominent. On the flip side, this can only mean good things for Todd LaTorre as the already talented singer comes into his own after experiencing pressure to live up to his successor.

Those who hoped for a speedy power metal album after hearing the energetic “Arrow of Time” and the triumphant “Guardian” may also be in for a shock. A burst of speed comes up toward the end with “All There Was,” but the bulk of the album consists of ballads and other mid-tempo tracks. Fortunately, these tracks never feel too monotonous with "Selfish Lives" offering a memorable hook, the bass heavy “Eye9” showing Tool influence and the Eastern flavors of “Just Us” channeling mid-era Zeppelin.

As a Queensryche album, Condition Human may rank towards the middle of their discography. It falls a bit short of their classics and even the self-titled album but it’s a hell of a lot better than anything they released after the mid-90s. Much like Promised Land, the style is worthy with adjusted expectations and the songs have a lot of growing potential. Personally, I don’t care what group calls itself as long as the music stays this solid.

“Arrow Of Time”
"Selfish Lives"
“Just Us”

Condition triumphant. - 95%

hells_unicorn, October 13th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Century Media Records

Queensryche has always been one of the more enigmatic and ephemeral bands to ever come out of the early 80s American metal scene. In essence, the famous quote of the philosopher Heraclitus that one cannot step on the same part of the river twice has perfectly summed up their career up until now, though a caveat should be thrown in that not all parts of the river are equal, either qualitatively or stylistically. Even within their four seminal releases in the 1980s, there were rather sizable jolts in the evolution of their sound, despite maintaining a consistent line up and being recognizable as the same outfit. Some of this dovetails with their status as a more progressive outfit, which was present to some degree in their earliest LP The Warning, but didn't fully metastasize until the release of their 1990 commercial breakthrough Empire, which arguably saw the band abandoning much of their metal roots, which would subsequently not return until only recently. Following a massive succession of sub-par releases and finally the exodus of longtime lead vocalist Geoff Tate (arguably an irreplaceable element of their sound), the future seemed quite uncertain for this Seattle metal fold.

However, even the most disastrous of events can have a silver-lining, and in the case of newly recruited vocalist Todd La Torre, the silver actually covered the entire room and brought about a sudden and massive revitalization of a long dormant energy in the soul of the band. Following a respectable though short and safe return to form in their self-title 2013 effort Queensryche, the idea was fielded by said newly recruited front man to attempt a true return to form, and what came out after a couple years of plugging away is arguably the most substantial comeback in metal history, otherwise known as Condition Human. Naturally calling anything by this band a return to form isn't saying much since they've been all over the map stylistically since the early 1990s, and even in their more metallic days prior to that they were a bit difficult to fully nail down and were better defined by individual albums than by any respective era. As best as can be defined, this album is a move back to a transitional point between Operation: Mindcrime and Empire that never actually occurred, but one that would have surpassed the latter album while holding a similarly auspicious place in history with the former.

From start to finish, this album tows the line between modernity and nostalgia brilliantly, and likewise manages to hold a near perfect middle ground between the bands traditional heavy, power and progressive metal/rock stylistic influences while managing to be both gritty and smooth. It introduces itself on a very familiar note with a melodic speeder in "Arrow Of Time" that captures that faster end of the NWOBHM roots of the band's 80s material, particularly the more musically adventurous aspects of mid-80s Iron Maiden, and also rings a fair bit familiar to one of the faster Mindcrime songs "The Needle Lies". The comparable moments to the seminal 1988 Queensryche LP continue with a series of more mid-paced and heavy numbers in "Guardian" and "Hellfire", the latter showcasing the band's prowess in developing a haunting atmosphere with acoustic guitars before launching into a powerful rocking stride, not all that dissimilar to a number of radio hits such as "Revolution Calling" and "I Don't Believe In Love". Towards the middle of the album things take on a bit more of a modern character and slow down a bit, but the sense of power is not diminished as a series of modern reinterpretations of Queensryche's early 90s material emerge, with "Eye9" being particularly noteworthy for it's strong bass work and haunting melodic guitar interludes.

It can't be stressed enough that this album is a collective success on all fronts, from the fancy and rhythmically mixed drum work and rhythm section to the flashy guitar work and brilliant atmospheric quirks. However, it cannot be overstated how much of a boon the vocal work of Todd La Torre is to this band, fully recapturing the power and energy of Geoff Tate's younger days and providing an even more gritty edge at times that was never explored by the departed Tate at any point in his career. He proves equally capable of wailing away like a raging beast on the heavier material, but he likewise proves an exemplary force in providing a crooning voice to the more serene balladry of this album, be it the punch half-ballad "Bulletproof" or the full out acoustic nod to Empire's softer moments with a progressive twist in Just Us. Further still, his massive vocal range and expressive timbre makes the neurotic closing series of "Aftermath" and the closing epic title song "Condition Human" essentially what they are, namely a twisted and more generalized reinterpretation of the closing series of songs of Operation: Mindcrime. There aren't really any weak points to speak of with this entire album, save maybe for the fact that they slightly overdid it in the variety department and could have stood to write a few more outright rockers rather than multifaceted works, but it's hardly noticeable.

It's arguably a presumptive point to make, but it would appear that the ejection of Geoff Tate may well prove to be the best thing that could have happened to this band. They've gotten back the original spirit that made them such a massive force during the developmental days of metal music, and after a couple of extremely sub-par forays into plodding, quasi-grunge influenced progressive rock obscurity, it's becoming clear that Geoff Tate has all but lost his interest in metal and was holding the rest of the band back. This is literally the greatest thing to come out of Queensryche since the close of the 1980s, and also one of the best albums to come out this year. It's an essential listen for anybody that ever fell in love with any part of their classic period, it's fully faithful to the bands roots without totally living in the past, it's just an all out triumph from beginning to end. For all the lyrical cynicism and introspection that it may express, Condition Human may actually prove to be the catalyst in restoring the faiths of many persons in the power of the human will, at least as far as this veteran Seattle outfit is concerned.

Originally submitted to (The Metal Observer) on October 13, 2015.

No Looking Back Now! - 95%

Altair 4, October 9th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Century Media Records

There's no looking back now! Queensryche released their debut album with new vocalist Todd LaTorre in 2013, self titled 'Queensryche'. It was very well received, often hailed as a return to roots, to the style and attitude that made Queenryche so special to begin with. However, the album was only 35 minutes long and filled with what are essentially radio songs (i.e., 3-4 minuted long with simple song structures). Since Todd joined Queensryche had spoken often about returning to their prog rock/metal roots, and while their 2013 album was a good return to form, it didn't live up to the aforementioned label.

You'll have to forgive the history lesson, but given this album's place in Queensryche's history, I feel it needs to be addressed. So now enter 'Condition Human' ('Condition Hueman' if you take the umlaut seriously, haha!). Is this true full length album a return to form? Is it a true step forward? Absolutely. Unlike their self titled album, 'Condition Human' is not laden with radio rock songs. This album truly is progressive, but it still has tact and an emphasis on melody.

Todd LaTorre feels more comfortable in Queensryche now, blending the classic Geoff Tate influence with his own personal strong points. The rhythm section as usual is tight as hell and makes subtle rhythmic inflections that make repeated listens worthwhile and interesting. Of course, unlike the DeGarmo days, the guitar work is relatively restrained, but nonetheless capable and well performed. The production has only one issue, I think. I am by no means an engineer, but it sounds like the drums are little over-sampled. Nevertheless, this is easily the best Queensryche album since Operation: Mindcrime.

The album hooks you immediately with "Arrow of Time", a tune that's absolutely classic Queensryche, something that could have been found on their self-titled EP from '83. "Guardian" keeps the momentum with a phenomenal chorus and an ending section that is unconventional and absolutely terrific. From this point onward the album is a little more mid-paced focused. However, this is definitely not a bad thing. 'Selfish Lives" has interludes and spoken parts that hark to 'Operation: Mindcrime'. The album flows well and every song has something engaging. One last compliment I have to make is that the rhythms on this album are really one of the biggest highlights. "Eye9" has riffs and a chorus that make bobbing your head simply involuntary!

'Condition Human' is definitely a grower, not a shower (although it is indefinitely striking!). For fans of Queensryche who when asked if they like Queensryche, always had to clarify they only liked them up to 'Empire' or 'Promised Land' can finally rejoice. Queensryche is back. The 2013 album was a great taste, but this album finally makes it okay to be a proud fan of Queensryche. There is no doubt that Queensryche has a bright future so long as they continue to embrace their progressive rock/metal roots.

Highlights: "Arrow of Time", "Guardian", "Eye9", "Toxic Remedy"