Album: "Promised Land"
Label: EMI Records
Review: After hearing Queensryche's latest album, "American Soldier", I couldn't help but shake my head at how far they've fallen. After all, this was a band I grew up absolutely loving and saw them in concert several times. Sadly, they're just not the same band that they used to be. Rather than review their latest "you guys should've called it quits long ago" album, I figured I'd review "Promised Land" which is what I consider to be their last great album.
After their hugely successful release of their "Empire" album with hit singles such as "Silent Lucidity" and "Jet City Woman" among others, Queensryche went back into the studios to create "Promised Land". If you've listened to the band since way back in the day, you know they really pushed the limits of the "progressive rock" genre they were lumped into, because each album they released was a huge departure from the style of the previous one. The same is definitely true of "Promised Land". It's a fantastic mix of driving rock songs ("I Am I", "Damaged", "One More Time", "Lady Jane"), heartfelt acoustic tunes ("Our Of Mind", "Bridge") and some more experimental songs that are in a class all their own.
The titular track, for example, is a slow-paced song with wailing guitars and saxophones - but it's also one that I don't think people can appreciate nearly as much unless they've seen it perform live. During their concerts, Queensryche had a full bar set up on stage, and Geoff Tate performed the "Promised Land" song while sitting on the bar stool, acting like a man drowning his sorrows in booze. The visuals coupled with his incredible voice was an epic experience to say the very least.
And speaking of his voice, wow... I long considered Tate to have the best voice in all of rock/metal, but this album really hammered it home. Just take a listen to songs like "Damaged", "Promised Land" or the piano-driven "Someone Else?" and you'll see exactly what I mean. You'll also be surprised at just how poignant some of the lyrics can be, especially since so many other bands in hard rock are known for having ultra-cheesy lyrics. Oh sure, Queensryche had their share of cheesy lyrics in the early days, but they matured greatly over the years.
Another thing the band still had going for them at the time was Chris DeGarmo was still with them and writing most of the songs. Degarmo and Wilton were already one of the greatest guitar duos in the history of rock, but DeGarmo was also an incredibly talented songwriter. Just listen to some of Queensryche's more recent works and you'll see just how missed DeGarmo really is these days.
I'll always be a huge Queensryche fan and it's really hard to say what their greatest album is since they're all so different from each other. Whether you prefer "Rage", "Mindcrime", "Empire" or "Promised Land" - most hardcore Queensryche fans seem to agree that the amazing band we grew up loving ended after "Promised Land".
Queensryche had an absolutely unique sound featuring some of the most talented musicians in the business coupled with one of the greatest, naturally talented vocalists you'll ever have the pleasure of listening to. To this day, I've never heard another front man deliver with the power and emotion that Geoff Tate was able to do time and time again over the years. If you've never heard Queensryche before, this is definitely a fine album to start with and then you can work your way back through all the years of brilliant material they released (all of which I'll try to review at some point).
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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