February 25, 2019 Queensrÿche – The Verdict (Album Review)
For nearly forty years, Queensrÿche have lead a self-made revolution as the proverbial kings of Progressive Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Selling over thirty-million albums around the world, one can make a strong case that Queensrÿche made Progressive Rock a household name in the mainstream. Still going strong, the current incarnation of Queensrÿche features founding members Eddie Jackson (bass) and Michael Wilton (guitar) alongside longtime members Vocalist Todd La Torre and Guitarist Parker Lundgren. As 2019 begins, it has been well over two years since the Seattle-based monster released their last album of new material, Condition Human, in October of 2015. A successful debut, Condition Human arrived on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart at No. 5.
Well, for die-hard fans of Queensrÿche the wait is now over. On Friday, March 1, 2019, Queensrÿche will release their unprecedented sixteenth studio album, The Verdict, through their label Century Media. A couple of side notes on the making of The Verdict: original Drummer Scott Rockenfield has been on hiatus since 2017, when he took a break from the band for personal reasons, and that said, Rockenfield did not record drums for The Verdict. Stepping in, Todd La Torre recorded all drum tracks on The Verdict as he is an accomplished drummer in his own right. As it stands for now, there is no definitive word on when Rockenfield will return to Queensrÿche.
Announced back in October, The Verdict comes in as the band’s third album with La Torre on vocals, who does an amazing job with the band’s new material as well as paying proper tribute to Queensrÿche classics when in concert. In analyzing The Verdict, Queensrÿche have revamped their classic sound in a more sonically brighter tone versus Condition Human. With ten new tracks, The Verdict gifts Queensrÿche’s trademark lyrical context for a crumbling society. The album also hands over many moments that will take a longtime listener back to the band’s first two LP’s, 1984’s The Warning and 1986’s Rage for Order.
Getting down to business, The Verdict is first read by the opening track, “Blood of the Levant.” Like unpaid debts, this track lends the notion of going too far. As the album’s debut single, “Man The Machine” pushes a dynamic substance with the band’s signature take of a world in peril. Next, “Light Years” hits a solid Prog Rock rhythmic edge before the harmonies of “Inside Out,” which are reminiscent of fellow Rockers Saigon Kick. Halfway through The Verdict, we arrive at “Propaganda Fashion” and the track’s in-your-face, chasing melody and interrogating connotation.
For those who sometimes lose themselves in their own thoughts, “Dark Reverie” presents candid lyrics that beg for an answer out of the silence. Today’s society inspires the subject matter for the music of many bands nowadays. That in mind, the track “Bent” vividly asks why we haven’t gained knowledge from the errors of our ways. Thereafter, the psychological “Inner Unrest” ushers in Lundgren and Wilton’s riff attack on a supercharged “Launder the Conscience.” In the finale, “Portrait” is yet another compelling album closer which is something many a fan has become accustomed to from Queensrÿche.
Looking back at The Verdict, what you have are ten well-done tracks that show a band still on top of their game. Clearly, Queensrÿche have not skipped a beat in their ability to musically and lyrically hone the key to Progressive Rock/Metal. Having said that, all tracks on The Verdict showcase well-oiled guitar riffs, magnetic rhythms, and intelligent lyrics. Many fans should find The Verdict to be an even stronger effort than the band’s two previous LP’s. Overall, Queensrÿche’s The Verdict is definitely an album fans of the band will want to check out. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives The Verdict 4 out of 5 stars.