The first thing you notice when you see the list of songs is the wide variety of sources from which the songs were culled. This could put off some fans, possibly thinking the album will not be a “Queensryche album.” However, the most noticeable trait about this album is that if you didn’t know any of the songs they’ve covered at all, but were familiar with the work of Queensryche, you wouldn’t think twice about it being Queensryche. They’ve definitely delivered the songs in their own way. With some songs, that meant a bit of a makeover, some change. With others, it meant staying quite faithful to the original. And this, perhaps, is the best approach to a set of covers. The album as a whole maintains the identity of the band.
To elaborate by song:
1. Welcome to the Machine – the influence Pink Floyd has had on Queensryche is obvious. “Silent Lucidity” certainly proved that. So, as expected, this song does not diverge drastically from the original. It has a more “metal” feel to it. Notably, I particularly liked how accurately the lead guitar parts emulated the melodicism and beauty of David Gilmour’s lead work.
2. Heaven on their Minds – I’m not familiar with the original at all. I like the riff on this song, and overall I enjoyed the song very much. If I didn’t know in advance, I would not have realized it was a cover tune.
3. Almost Cut My Hair – Again, not familiar with this particular track – see comments on previous track.
4. For What It s Worth – This Buffalo Springfield track got a bit more of a makeover. The familiar feel, and signature guitar harmonics are not there, and the Chorus of the song has been altered fairly substantially. The original is a great track, but the changes fit the style of Queensryche, and ultimately, after you’ve listened a couple times, their version of the Chorus is equally hummable as the original, in it’s own way.
5. For The Love Of Money – I’m familiar with this only as a song on the radio or as a soundbite. The signature bass lick that I recall is not used, and once again the song has been altered fairly significantly. This is not a bad thing, another song they’ve changed and made very much their own.
6. Innuendo – This is the title track from Freddie Mercury/Queen’s last release while he was still alive. This track is not as rough as other reviewers have noted. It is not dramatically different than the original, however, there is a section where Tate sings in a different manner than the original and this may be what’s throwing people off. I see this as a deliberate change, not being “ill-at-ease.” In fact, it’s noticeable that this particular track evokes a similar feel to some of their own work on “Promised Land,” and I believe this is the muse from which Tate is drawing. It should also be noted that nobody else has mention how nicely executed the mid-section is – guitarists Wilton and Stone took on the (originally a Steve Howe guest spot on classical and) thick Brian May harmonies very comfortably – and this is a highlight of the album.
7. Neon Knights – I love the original Sabbath track. This is a “very close to the original” take on this track. Hearing Geoff Tate tackle this, with his remarkable (but slightly aging) voice, reminds one of what a true freak of nature Ronnie James Dio really is, now in his mid-sixties (he was almost 40 when he joined Sabbath – then think how long it’s taken for him to even show any signs of aging in his singing…) Anyway, great take on a great track.
8. Synchronicity II – Another take very similar to the original, but it has it’s own character that gives it just a slight more Queensrychian feel and sound. Another great close to home take.
9. Red Rain – Pulling a little further away from the original but not a dramatic re-working. Again highlighting the strengths of Geoff Tate, who is singing another track originally by another amazing singer.
10. Odissea – Never heard the original, but I will say this Opera piece is an excellent opportunity for Geoff Tate to really explore a lot of area’s of his voice. And EVEN here, the take on this comes across like a Queensryche song.
11. Bullet The Blue Sky (Live) – A song from the period which I like by U2. One of my favorite U2 tracks. This take is very similar musically to U2’s. Geoff Tate gets into a fairly lengthy diatribe, and stretches this one out to over 10 minutes, which is a bit long. It’s a great take on the track, but the monologue could’ve been limited more and kept the track down to about 5 minutes. That would’ve been better.
Overall, a great job. 4 1/2 stars.