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Queensr├┐che

The Verdict

Review by Greg Olma

It is hard to believe that it has been six years since Todd La Torre’s first release fronting Queensrÿche.  I have been a fan since the EP back in 1983, and when they replaced Geoff Tate, I thought that it was all over for them.  I could not have been more wrong as this new lineup has produced some fantastic music.  The Verdict continues the trend of moving the band forward while still retaining those special Queensrÿche elements that were prevalent during their early records.  I feel their self-titled album in 2013 was a great start and, while it was in my top 10 records of 2013, in hindsight, it was a bit safe.  On Condition Human and The Verdict, the band is spreading out a little and updating their sound while also bringing back some of the prog sounds.  I know that 2019 is not even half over but I can pretty much guarantee that The Verdict will end up in my top 10 of this year.  

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Blood of the Levant

The record starts off with a riff-heavy, chugging metal tune.  Right off the bat, the band shows that they have plenty of life in them by incorporating some modern elements into the classic Queensrÿche sound.  It is a fantastic way to start an album and just goes to prove that the song sequence is still very important.

Man the Machine
Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren start off this fast song with some melodic riffing just before La Torre cuts through with his unmistakable vocals.  To my ears, this track reminds me of Rage For Order era music mixed with parts of the Empire era.
Light Years
This is where I feel the record gets a little more modern sounding at the beginning but then turns into a nice melodic tune.  There is a really cool bridge right before the solo that has Eddie Jackson ushering in the melodic guitar solos.  Don’t let the beginning fool you, this song has a number of twists and turns that will have you wondering how they were able to fit so much in in just over four minutes.
Inside Out
I find this song has a Middle Eastern flavor with some 60s psychedelia thrown in.  Again, there are some new elements added to give the cut a new, yet familiar,  feel. 
Propaganda Fashion
“Propaganda Fashion” starts off almost like you are coming in on a song already in progress.  While I like this track, it is probably my least favorite on the record.  If this was the only song I heard off The Verdict, I would be raving about it, but the quality of the other cuts overshadows this tune. 
Dark Reverie
If Queensrÿche did ballads, then “Dark Reverie” would be it but if you are looking for another “Silent Lucidity, then look elsewhere.  This has a bit of an epic feel and, while it is a mellower song, it is one of the highlights of the disc.  I like that it is in the middle of the album and it is bookended by heavier tracks.
Bent
This is the longest cut on offer here and contains a lot of those Queensrÿche prog elements.  I especially like the soaring guitar solos that fit the song without being overplayed, and the vocals are superb.  If you like the title track off Condition Human, then you’ll love this one, as well. 
Inner Unrest
The album returns to a more straight forward format, but not in a bad way.  “Inner Unrest” is a mid-tempo metal track that has that Empire feel to the point that it would have not been out of place on that record. 
Launder the Conscience
Just like “Bent, we get another prog-ish tune.  The band shine in the context of these types of songs.  They show off their musical chops but not to the detriment of the track; always making sure the song comes first.  There are couple of soundtrack type elements that connect the different pieces that make up this song, which gives it that epic feel.
Portrait
Things end on this odd little tune.  It almost feels out of place in that it reminds me of “spOOL” off of Hear In The Now Frontier, where the rest of the album has a very classic Queensrÿche sound.  While it seems out of place, I really like this and feel that it ends the disc in fine fashion.  I have played this album well over 20 times and each time I hear this song, it grows on me a little more.
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