(Century Media Records)
When Progressive Metal veterans Queensrÿche signed with Century Media Records in 2012, there was little doubt regarding the group's choice of direction. Having suffered through a staggering array of prolonged legal entanglements and a steep commercial decline, their brand appeared damaged beyond repair. However, after recruiting multi-octave Crimson Glory frontman Todd La Torre, the group began recording a series of demos, with a focus on returning to their heavier, pre-Empire (1990) roots. Following the release of their self-titled comeback (2012), they began expounding upon their now re-established foundations, resulting in a previously unparalleled 'old' and 'new' auditory hybrid via the ingenious Condition Hüman (2015). Fortunately, with the release of the mighty The Verdict (2019), their latest--and undeniably greatest--post-Geoff Tate offerings, they are now poised to embark upon the final chapter in what was once an arguably unthinkable career revitalization.
On the oft-brilliant The Verdict (2019), an expertly assembled twelve song collection of Progressive Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the thunderous--albeit maddeningly infectious--“Blood Of The Levant” and the rumbling, hard-driving tirade “Man The Machine”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Wasting little--if any--time driving home each key focal point via a seamless barrage of soaring vocals, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms, the group delivers the proverbial goods with an eerie and occasionally nostalgia-inducing efficiency. Appearing as if the passage of time had somehow reversed itself without sounding forced or purposely dated, the group lays the foundation for the that surgically precise revelry that soon follows. Leaving the listener pondering why such auditory mastery hadn't 'materialized' far sooner, they fire on all cylinders early and often as they surge forward.
Continuing with the fist-pumping, mosh-inducing “Inside Out” and the relentlessly pummeling “Propaganda Fashion”, the now-rejuvenated combination of vocalist Todd La Torre (ex-Crimson Glory, Rising West), lead guitarist Michael Wilton, former Sledgeback rhythm guitarist Parker Lundgren and bassist Eddie Jackson (note: all drums were performed by La Torre due to founding skinsman Scott Rockenfield being on an extended leave of absence) steamrolls ahead at what can only be described as an unnervingly fluid pace. Seething with a well-deserved sense of self-confidence, the group--most notably La Torre and Lundgren--place a unique 'stamp' upon their more-than-considerable contributions. Having proven themselves more than capable of re-capturing the essence of their prototypical past without, believe it or not, resorting to the shameless self-plagiarism all-too-common within the genre, their initial sonic digressions are both instantly memorable and thoroughly satisfying.
Produced, Mixed and Mastered by the acclaimed Chris 'Zeuss' Harris (Hatebreed, Iced Earth, Rob Zombie) at Uberbeatz in Lynwood, Washington, Planet-Z in Wilbraham, Massachusetts and Watershed Studio in Seattle, Washington, other standouts, including the delightfully brooding--yet all-too-brief--lamentation “Bent” and the quasi-operatic, hook-laden gem “Launder The Conscience”, offer a wealth of further evidence in support of the group's creative re-birth. Serving as the ideal companion to the group's Gold and multi-Platinum Operation: Mindcrime, Empire and Promised Land trilogy, The Verdict only re-affirms the improbably long-running group's position within the hierarchy of the Progressive Metal genre. Now officially devoid of the long-gestating legal and interpersonal turmoil that had threatened their identity and, for that matter, their very existence, the fire and passion at the epicenter of each track is palpable, making them the breaths of fresh air we have been waiting for.
Is it Rage For Order or Empire v2.0? Absolutely not. But then again, that's the point, now isn't it? With the majority--if not all--of the decidedly masterful wares contained herein finding the group boldly forging ahead without focusing on the remnants of their pre-La Torre past, the end yield(s) of their more-than-considerable efforts are nothing short of extraordinary and deserve to be treated accordingly. Undeniably their finest post-Promised Land (1994) effort to date, what ultimately separates the mighty The Verdict from it's few legitimate contemporaries is their ceaseless dedication to honing their already razor-sharp chops. Love 'em or loathe 'em, this is quite possibly as good as it gets. Accordingly, if you've once again found yourself in hopelessly searching for a thought-provoking reprieve from the painfully mindless din and clatter that is so often force fed en mass, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane salve for what ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
The Verdict (2019)
Condition Hüman (2015)
Dedicated To Chaos (2011)
American Soldier (2009)
Sign Of The Times: The Best Of Queensrÿche (2007)
Mindcrime At The Moore (2007)
Take Cover (2007)
Operation: Mindcrime II (2006)
The Art Of Live (2004)
Live Evolution (2001)
Hear In The Now Frontier (1997)
Promised Land (1994)
Operation: Livecrime (1991)
Operation: Mindcrime (1988)
Rage For Order (1986)
The Warning (1984)
Queensrÿche (EP) (1983)
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