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Music Monday: Queensryche part two

Excellent by Mancinii
So, you know I said I hoped the non-Tate Queensryche album would be better?

Start with the title. I've seen some fans complaining that you can't do a self-titled album this far into your career (and besides, there was a self-titled EP back in the very beginning), but this misses the point. Where 'FU' is just a bit... direct, the self-titled option exudes self-confidence. It says 'yeah, there's another Queensryche out there, but this is Queensryche'.

This version of the band, of course, has the advantage of only having to add a singer to an existing unit (albeit Parker Lundgren has only one previous album under his belt, the troubled 'Dedicated to Chaos'). So there's no rotating lineup of session guys and false starts: everything is recorded and written by the same five guys. The result is naturally tighter and more organic. The production (by Jimbo Barton, who worked with the band on 'Mindcrime' and 'Empire') is so far superior I almost don't want to embarrass Tateryche by the comparison.

But what about the new material? Well, inevitably it's lyrically a little different: without Tate, La Torre takes over the majority of lyric duties, though some of the other band members contribute too. Vocally La Torre sounds almost uncannily like early Tate at times, particularly on 'Where Dreams Go To Die', but other songs (like 'Fallout' or 'Vindication') feature a more distinctive contribution from the new guy.

Musically... if Tateryche's album nodded towards the band's metal roots, this album straight up walks over and has a drink with them. It's not stale nostalgia: there's a modern feel to it, but, well, this version of the band came about from playing material from the first five releases, and it shows. And it's a good thing. There's an energy to the album that comes from the fact that the band are obviously playing the kind of music they enjoy. The only criticism: the album is short. Very short. 35 minutes, with two 'songs' that are really just musical intros, and five more than clock in under 3 minutes 30. But it's a case of quality over quantity: I genuinely can't find a song on here that I dislike. Or even one that I don't prefer to even the stronger offerings on the Tateryche album.

Which brings us to the 'extra material'. If Tate's 'rerecordings' were 'classic' QR material, the rest of the band give us old, old, unbelievably oooold school Queensryche: live recordings of the 'new' band performing Queen of the Reich, En Force and Prophecy. And it's a great move, for two reasons: it reflects where the new material comes from, and it showcases Todd La Torre's vocal range. There's a damn good reason Tate doesn't do those songs much these days: he can't hit those notes any more. La Torre can. Which must smart, if you're Tate: but not as much as the fact that this is by any measure the superior album.

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