I lost some credibility for Queenryche when they released RAGE FOR ORDER, succumbing to pressures to dress thjemselves like Motley Cure or Poison or Dokken or Bon Jovi. But with EMPIRE and OPERATION… they proved once and for all their autenticity and special place in the metal world. It was hard to follow those two great albuns and one had to be expecting a brief decline in thheir next album. And it came in the form of PROMISED LAND, a really weak album, withou any firm orientation, lacking punch, over produced, totally synthesized.
Queensryche’s follow-up to the double-platinum Empire is something of an acquired taste, but it’s well worth the effort. There’s considerable variety here; the heavy progressive-rock of ”I Am I” and the ballad ”Bridge” were hit singles, but there’s also the funk-inflected ”Disconnected”, the edgy, spooky ”Lady Jane”, and the piano-and-vocals ”Someone Else?”. The title track is probably the strongest and least accessible song on the album; instead of rocking out, it’s a slow, heavy song in the vein of ”Anybody Listening?” from Empire. Listen to it at least five times before forming an opinion; each time, you’ll hear something you didn’t before. –Genevieve Williams
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Quite simply, this is the finest effort in the Queensryche catalog. Rage For Order may be a little more musically ambitious, but R4O’s problem is that it sounds dated, as great as it is. Promised Land sounds as fresh and vibrant today as the day I bought it. One of the top reasons for this album being their best, besides the music, is the fact that it has QR’s most personal and introspective lyrics. Let’s face it, as great as albums like Rage For Order and Mindcrime are, the lyrics lose their impact after a while. Can you really relate at all to Nikki from Mindcrime??? Promised Land has lyrics that I think a lot of people can indentify with, but that take on more and more meaning as you get older. How many of us have felt estranged from a parent or loved one at one time or another? Or felt like the goals you set earlier in life now seem out of reach? When I hear the words on this album, combined with music ranging from hard-hitting (I Am I), tragic (Someone Else), haunting (Lady Jane) to despairing (Promised Land), it makes that much more of an impact.No, you will not hear wanking guitars. No, you will not hear the usual amount of over-the-top Geoff Tate vocals. No, you will not get a sonic assualt of drum and bass. What you will absolutely get is an album of powerful music and lyrics, one that you can make a connection with (and yes, you can live a happy life and still identify with downcast lyrics), and one that will not leave you the same person as before.
First things first. Promised Land was the last Queensryche album that I liked and they have released nothing that I enjoyed much since 1994. As a matter of fact, whatever they did post-PL sounds nothing like the Queensryche we all discovered in the 80’s and grew to love so much over the years. Unfortunately they took a completely different direction after this record obviously going for a more commercial sound alienating some of their die-hard fans along the way, myself included. Well, so be it. To me Promised Land was the last nail in the coffin of Queensryche and they will never be the same band again.I’m all for change and progression. I do not expect my favourite bands to carry on walking on the same musical path for ever. The self-titled debut was great as was The Warning. With Rage for Order they were onto new soundscapes and Mindcrime was the pinnacle of their success. With Empire they also managed to sell their albums. And all of this happened in a space of eight years always pushing their limits a bit broader and developing their mindset. As years passed by, the brilliance of Mindcrime and Empire was even more evident, so the guys took a long time — 4 years — to write their ultimate follow-up to these magnificent records. And Promised Land proved to be a completely different, more mature in a way and unexpected Queensryche album. While it surprised some fans, it eventually began to grow on those who were open-minded, particularly with “I Am I” getting a lot of airplay and MTV support.This is not a concept album or as unified a release as Mindcrime was; however it has its own unique traits to it and is possibly the most balanced album in their entire catalog. Everything runs so smoothly satisfying both the old metalheads and the ones who lean towards Ryche’s proggy roots. The Pink Floyd influence was never so prevalent before. There are spots on this disc that are very reminiscent of Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse in Reason for all I know. The opening tracks “I Am I” and “Damaged” both penned by DeGarmo and Tate are the heavier sides of the album with nice hooks and remarkable vocal harmonies. They are followed by “Out of Mind” and “Bridge” which are both stamped by Chris DeGarmo’s trademark sound and feature the more laid-back and their softer moments. DeGarmo’s solo in “Out of Mind” is perhaps the LAST guitar solo I liked on a Queensryche album. Its slow progression and minimal writing charged with tons of emotion make this solo a masterpiece all on its own standards. Too bad this guy got all the unfair crap from his very own fanbase and was always overlooked one way or another among prog metal listeners. Too bad because Chris DeGarmo, whether his musical style nowadays appeals to me or not, is one of the most prolific songwriters ever. He was always regarded the ’second’ man of the band because of Tate, but it showed hideously how important his role in the band is when he left the band. And as for the albums that he played on, they weren’t bad albums because of DeGarmo, they were bad because DeGarmo played on them without having his heart in it. That’s my take at least. If Ryche was so good on their own, they wouldn’t have asked him to co-write on their last album Tribe, would they?The title track, also the longest song on the album, is neatly placed right in the middle of the record and is my favourite song on the album. It was composed by all members in the band together and there is room for everyone to show how great they function together. “Promised Land” is an integral part of the way they all express themselves so well. The Floydan atmosphere is there, Tate does his lower register vocals flawlessly as well as he lets out his killer screams. I think this album was when his voice was its best. A perfect smooth tone with a lot expression. The rhythm work is top notch with solos played in random all over it. “Disconnected” is one of those songs I would despise if I heard it on their post-PL records but it sounds okay on this CD as it’s the only one following the album’s most complex track. It is very alternative sounding as it’s the only tune that DeGarmo had no hand in writing. Still there’s a nice solo towards the finale which makes it listenable. It is however sad that Ryche decided to ground their ‘new’ work on this song taking the easy way out instead of the title track with its layered melodies and intricate musicianship.”Lady Jane” is another personal favourite of mine and while I have always enjoyed listening to “My Global Mind” as it’s the next heavy tune to keep things in order I always believed it fell a little short in the lyrical department. As for the last two songs here, “One More Time” and “Someone Else?”, the latter of which became another radio single, I have to point out that no Queensryche album has had such amazing album closers, that includes their masterpiece Mindcrime. I can’t stop listening to this disc without hearing these two songs. Only then do I feel complete, hence the “perfectly balanced album” thing I mentioned previously. This album is so successfully produced and recorded it almost brings me to tears when I think of all the CDs they released after it. Why did all their brilliant ideas go down the drain all of a sudden?Promised Land is one of my top 3 Queensryche albums always changing places with Empire. Mindcrime is unquestionably their best moment, but I also highly recommend their earlier stuff if you like good heavy metal with progressive overtones. If you don’t like metal and prog, but just simple alternative pop-rock, then maybe their newer material would be more up your alley.
People whine about HITNF but the truth is Queensryche’s sound has evolved considerably all along. The EP was metal. The Warning was metal tinged with progressive. Rage was metal tinged with more progressive and some pop. Mindcrime was metal — progressive in the sense of telling a story, but musically, metal. Their masterpiece. Empire started the shift to a more lush pop sound, very much in Pink Zeppelin/Led Floyd sort of way while retaining some metal. With Promised Land, the metal was polished to such a smooth mirrored finish it’s not really metal at all, but a masterful popcraft and one of the most listenable albums of the last decade. From here things went arguably south, but Promised Land is the Queensryche album the boys and girls, fans and non fans, critics and MTV viewers, can all agree on. Apart from Mindcrime, if you have one ‘Ryche, have this one.
Promised Land is an incredible album that stands strong on its own merits, even outside of comparison to other QR efforts.As others have observantly stated, chances are Promised Land will not “grab” you on the first listen.. It didn’t grab me at first; something I believe owes alot to its being so opposite a release than Empire. There’s *so* much going on that you *couldn’t* get it all on one listen. It isn’t possible. But given the chance, reading the lyrics and listening to it atleast *once* with a good set of headphones.. it *will* grab you. It is by far the most personal of their efforts and is, in my opinion, the most masterfully crafted.From the songwriting to the performances, arrangements, “ambient layering” and production – everything is top-notch. The music, lyrics and Geoff’s vocal delivery of each song are perfectly matched. If the raw emotion conveyed in the last verse of “Promised Land” alone doesn’t draw some derivative of “whoah” out of you… little else will.If, as many people seem to feel, “Mindcrime” was the peak of ‘ryche’s career, then Promised Land is undoubtedly their second wind. My personal favorites are: ‘Damaged’, ‘Bridge’, ‘Promised Land’, ‘One More Time’ and ‘Someone Else?’. All eleven tracks are brilliant and Promised Land is a work that no lover of deep, intelligent and masterfully conceived music should pass on giving a chance… or two… or three .