The reviews on here are just as predicted. Some loyal to the old Ryche and some loyal to the entire career of this band (start to ….finish). As one who tries to commit to the latter, yet is truly moved only by material up to – and INCLUDING! – Promised Land, allow me to offer a heart-felt attempt at a reality-based review; one that reports mixed results.
No, it’s not the same band. There’s no Chris. And really, there’s no epics. Nothing truly memorable. And the intensity of the legitimacy of the PURPOSE! …???????
But as some of you have pointed out, it still IS Queensryche, in some form. Which will always be aweseome on some level. There’s still an addictive quality to the music.
Without doing another play by play, here’s the real scoop on the album. The music is the best since Promised Land, but doesn’t match that or any prior effort. Why? Primarily because it is weighed down by the band’s terrible identity crisis about what sort of PRODUCTION their music needs. For a band who prides themselves on not following trends, that spirit is starting to get real paper thin. The music is compressed to holy hell, just like everything else out there, which squashes the mix and in turn it’s hard to hear a palatable stereo image. It’s just unpleasurable grain in the guitar distortion and the usual “2000’s” vocal treatment – up-front, without character or dynamic, and such that one can’t really hear any subtle nuance in the soundscape. So I blame the production team first. The music is never given a chance to breathe (unlike OMC I , if drowned in reverb ).
The other problem – going back to the music itself – is the songs don’t get real good till the end. Too little too late. Where “Suite Sister Mary” was on I, we have Ronnie James Dio on II. Only in one of many go-nowhere 3 minute increments, the album doesn’t pace its way to anything. Before you know it, Pamela Moore is beginning a sweet duet with Geoff right as the record ends. No climax and no payoff.
I follow the liner notes but as someone else put it, it takes a lot of effort just to CARE about the fact that there’s a literary thematic story going on. Unlike DT’s Metropolis 2, if the music isn’t highly intriguing, the story loses its credibility.
One of the major saving graces is the song “Fear City Slide” – classic Ryche which erases the blemishes of recent years’ releases, and tries so hard to move the band forward, to once again try to evolve…
The heartbreak is, despite all the marks against it, it really had the makings of something with potential. And it falls somewhere in between. I’ll probably listen to it over and over, never really forget about it, but I’ll probably never really remember it, either. For every admirable harmonized guitar lick on this album, there’s the same run on another album with more conviction and direction. I enjoy this album, but I fear for its test-of-time -ness
I hesitated to write this review for fear that it really doesn’t go anywhere, but all in all, my infatuation with the mighty Ryche will always call me back…and I think that says a lot.