[ALBUM REVIEW] Queensrÿche – The Verdict

The Verdict Tracklist:

1. Blood Of The Levant
2. Man The Machine
3. Light-years
4. Inside Out
5. Propaganda Fashion
6. Dark Reverie
7. Bent
8. Inner Unrest
9. Launder The Conscience
10. Portrait

 Reviewed by Cassandra Hale

What a glorious day when you are handed The Verdict for an early listen. As a long-devoted fan of Queensrÿche I have seen all the ups and downs unfold over the past few years and like a phoenix from the flames Queensrÿche have risen and spread their wings with spectacular fashion.  The Verdict is like nothing the fans have heard for many years, it oozes a heaviness that had gone missing but still stays true to its progressive roots. The Verdict is the third album with Todd LaTorre at the helm taking on vocals and in this case the drumming duties as well while Scott Rockenfield took some time out for personal commitments. Todd is a seasoned professional behind the kit and he finds the perfect groove to accommodate the new music giving the album such a killer sound and taking us back to albums reminiscent of the glory days of Queensrÿche .

The album opens with Blood Of The Levant which has almost a tribal feel to it, it’s fast paced with driving guitar riffs and some intricate rudimental work from Todd on the snare. It sets the tone for the album and if this is any indication of the quality to come “Rychers” will be very pleasantly surprised. The first single Man The Machine follows on and I am sure fans would agree it could easily feel at home on The Warning, the vibe is there and the dueling guitars of Mike Wilton and Parker Lundgren are sensational. I can see why it was the first single, giving us a taste of why we all love this band and give them our continued support. Light Years slows the pace down slightly but fits the arc of the album and Todd’s vocals are exceptional, whether he is hitting the high notes or keeping the melodic lyrics centred he nails it.

With 10 songs and under one hour long you are taken on a journey of progressive goodness that shows the boys are still willing to experiment, and it has paid off in spades.  Inside Out and the ripping Propaganda Fashion show how the change in tempo between two songs can lift and albums and take it to heights that only musicians of the highest calibre are capable of. I love the additional backing vocals on Propaganda Fashion, it gives great depth to the song that tackles some tough subject matter which is very current in today’s day and age.  Dark Reverie takes you to a place where you can totally lose yourself in the music, the chorus is hauntingly beautiful and has a fabulous build that needs to be played loud! Bent shows intricacies in the music that will have prog fans rejoicing, with timing changes a plenty it lends itself to the album brilliantly. Inner Unrest and Launder The Conscience see unprecedented vocals from Todd and shredding guitars layered to perfection. Eddie Jackson keeps the low end in safe hands, his bass skills and musical talent are second to none.

Rounding out The Verdict is Portrait, it finishes the album with a robustness that certainly shows how Queensrÿche have matured since the departure of Geoff Tate. They have gone back to their beginnings, with all members working in unity on this album and it shows in every song. The Verdict is much darker than the last two albums featuring Todd but takes nothing away from them. It has just gone in a slightly different direction and it’s one I believe they should keep traveling in. I feel like the Queensrÿche I know and love has returned, it just took a small jumpstart to get them firing on all cylinders and now the magic is back! The Verdict is an album that will entice new fans in for a listen and hook them from the opening riff. It has cemented Queensrÿche back at number one in progressive metal right where they belong. That being said, and with Casey Grillo onboard with skin hitting duties, get over here to Australia we are dying to see you again. My verdict – 5 stars!