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.