Capping off a year that saw original vocalist Geoff Tate ejected from the band on some pretty tumultuous, uncouth terms, which consequently led to Tate forming his own watered-down version of Queensr˙che, drama-weary fans may have begged the question: “Will the real Queensr˙che please stand up?” Well, it appears a phoenix has risen to its feet with the release of a self-titled album from the remaining 4/5 of the band from which Tate was expelled.
One of the sticking points the remaining Queensr˙che members had with Tate was the direction of the band's music – which became a 15-year descent into the avant-garde; more Andy Warhol pop expressionism than the melodic, progressive metal upon which the band staked its name. Any trace of such low points, like 2011's “Dedicated to Chaos,” is snuffed clean. Instead, the reinvigorated Queensr˙che, with new aerial-voiced frontman Todd LaTorre, deliver an opus worthy of a follow-up to 1988's brilliant, genre-defining “Operation: Mindcrime.”
Enlisting the production services of James “Jimbo” Barton, who worked with the band on past glories like “Mindcrime” and 1990s commercial apex, “Empire,” the dual guitar leads are back (“In This Light”), the operatic vocals are again fearless (“Where Dreams Go to Die”), and that sinister touch of darkness creeps back in (“A World Without”). Vocally, LaTorre is a dead ringer for a younger Tate, and he seems to have no issue with hitting repeated crescendos, whereas in recent years, Tate took a shine to Dracula-esque baritoned drone.
If a wayward Queensr˙che fan needs any more assurance that this incarnation of the band is the real deal, look no further than a track like “Fallout;” the song's driving metal groove recalls past Queensr˙che flashpoints like “Deliverance” from 1984's “The Warning” – LaTorre not-so-subtly singing of a “revolution in disguise” and “swimming against the tide.” The band almost walks that extra mile just to ensure there's enough distance from where Tate is (quite insipidly) dragging the Queensr˙che name.
This is 21st century Queensr˙che: a band reborn in metal, ready to again “Take Hold of the Flame.”
Queensr˙che 'Queensr˙che' Rating: W W W W W