Battle for the Queensrÿche: Condition Hüman vs The Key

So, what’s this? Two reviews for the price of one? You bet your sweet ass it is! With singer Geoff Tate and his former bandmates having settled their dispute concerning the Queensrÿche name and focusing once more on their music, their new albums were released only weeks apart. A comparison seems logical. And this way I can finally diminish that growing pile of records I would still like to discuss.

22After the departure of their vocalist, the band that is still called Queensrÿche now consists of original members Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfeld and Michael Wilton, together with guitarist Parker Lundgren and singer Todd La Torre. After the somewhat hastily recorded and produced second self-titled album, the five-piece took some more time to properly finish their new album, even coming up with an actual album title and cover.

The guitar harmonies from opener Arrows Of Time immediately get a nice flow going. It has a modern yet classic feel, while some other songs sound more like early Queensrÿche. I can’t possibly be the only one that sees a lyrical reference to Revolution Calling in the chorus of Guardian.

From more modern progmetalsongs such as Eye9 right to the power ballad Bulletproof, there’s really lots of things going on on ‘Condition Hüman’. While at first I was considering it to be just one more Queensrÿche album, after a few listens it’s starting to turn out to be one of their better ones. I’ve read they “go back to their roots on this one”, but I never have the feeling I’m listening to an old album. They’re just an old band that succeeds at evolving with the times without losing touch with their legacy. Something that some of the greatest bands fail miserably at.

With his former bandmates successfully updating their classic sound, Geoff Tate seems to extend his look onto the future. The first album on his own, ‘Frequency Unknown’, with the initials leaving a well-received message towards his old friends on the album cover, suffered the same flaws as ‘Queensrÿche’ the second, i.e. hasty recording and songwriting.

coverHis new band, which isn’t really a band, because he claimed he wanted to work with as many different musicians as possible, works under the somewhat unusual name Operation: Mindcrime. But that’s not even the most unusual part. Their first actual effort ‘The Key’ is the first part in a trilogy of concept albums about internet, bitcoins, economy… something about social media. Maybe it becomes more clear after the next albums. Well, as long as the music is good, right?

But is the music any good? That typical tense and slightly uncomfortable Queensrÿche vibe is definitely present, although most of the album is somewhat more mellow than we’re used to, almost Pink Floyd-like.  Some of the better songs, such as Re-inventing The Future or The Fall really remind of the glory days, while some other contain not always even successful attempts at innovation. Life Or Death, featuring Mark Daly of The Voodoos, could be considered a success, but when Geoff goes nu-metal, like in The Stranger, that’s where I draw the line. When he starts rapping random nonsense like “I’m the best, forget the rest”, it just gets plain laughable. After all, if I know Geoff, he might even be serious. That and the sometimes overdone sound effects in between songs. They just don’t make any sense, it’s killing me!

So, that’s about it. we’ve got a solid album that combines modern progmetal with the classic sounds on one side, on which the resemblance between the old and new singer appears uncanny. The other side comes with a record that has quite some adventure that definitely doesn’t always turn out well. The sounds may be pretty much alike, but they both do something completely different with it. So, like most people, I have my favorite, but can I please have ’em both, mommy?

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