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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Queensr├┐che

Promised Land

Review by Gary Hill

Just to make things clear, I don’t think Queensryche is a progressive rock band. Nor would I put many of their discs into that category. This one, though, I think does fit. I have to say that when the album first came out I bought in and listened to it for a while, but was never really taken by it. Well, now that I’ve revisited I think it’s one of their best releases and one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Yes, it is that good. I think I was turned off because it was even further from the metal that they had perfected on Operation Mindcrime – so I didn’t really equate it as Queensryche. Taken outside that bias, though, this is an incredible disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
9:28 a.m.

The sounds of a heartbeat monitor along with some sound effects start the disc off on “9:28 am.” This gives way to space sound effects after it sounds like there might be heart attack. This is really space rock rather like Pink Floyd. It’s a fairly short introductory piece that segues into the next number.

I Am I
The hardest rocking cut of the set, this is a real powerhouse and probably the one of a few tracks I’d really consider to be metal. It’s classic Queensryche, but some hints of psychedelia are spread throughout, too. This is a great piece of music and hearkens back to Empire quite a bit. The guitar solo on this reminds me a bit of Rush.
Damaged
Here’s another metallic one, but there’s plenty of prog-like sounds here, too. It’s a bit weird, but also very cool. The chorus is exceptionally catchy. 
Out Of Mind
This mellow and quite pretty track is rather sad and melancholy. It gets quite involved as it carries on and is one of my favorite tracks here – and yet, everything is so strong it’s really hard to pick a favorite. 
Bridge
Another that’s more balladic, this has a more straightforward approach. Still, there’s plenty of prog built into this and many ways besides classic Queensryche sounds I can make out Pink Floyd and Rush. 
Promised Land
The introduction to this is so Pink Floyd oriented it’s a little scary. When they launch into the main song this Floydian tendency remains, but there’s also some Rush and more standard Queensryche. It’s got a more stripped down arrangement. It does have a bit of a metal element in places. And yet, there’s also a cool saxophone solo. There’s an interesting instrumental break on this one. It gets quite intense at times and there are segments where Geoff Tate’s powerfully evocative vocals really steal the show. 
Dis con nec ted
A lot of sound effects serve as the extended introduction to this track. They pull us out from there into a killer rubbery sort of jam that has elements of modern Rush and Dream Theater alongside the more standard Queensryche sounds. This is a very rhythmic piece of music. We get some more saxophone on this track in a section that reminds me quite a bit of Nik Turner era Hawkwind. 
Lady Jane
There is a Beatles-like aspect to this track, but also plenty of Pink Floyd in the workings. It’s another highlight of the set, without question. 
My Global Mind
We get a bit of a metallic edge to this jam – in fact at times quite a bit, but still I’d consider this progressive rock. It’s another that’s rather rubbery. I can make out some Dream Theater in this mix, but also hints of Pink Floyd still show up. Of course, it’s all Queensryche.
One More Time
Another fairly stripped down arrangement, this is all Queensryche and all powerful. There are definitely elements that make me think of Operation Mindcrime – and yet, I’d still consider this a hard edged progressive rock. The instrumental break is more in keeping with heavy metal, but I’d still not place this one really there. 
Someone Else?
The closer is extremely powerful. It’s strictly piano and voice in an emotionally gripping ballad approach. I normally don’t recommend songs like this to close sets, but in this case it works because this is such a potent rendering.
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