When Queensrÿche’s self-titled album was released in 2013, it was the first without long-time singer, Geoff Tate. It was a solid release and one that saw the new group, fronted by Todd La Torre, embark upon a campaign to rebuild their name, reclaim fans who had lost faith with their direction, as well as welcome a new audience to the fold. Fast forward to 2015, and once more we witness a new offering. This release finds the group more comfortable, more focused, and tighter as a unit than ever before. So today let us delve into Queensrÿche’s newest LP, Condition Hüman, which was released through its Pledge Music campaign on Oct. 2, 2015, and see what inside.
Queensrÿche has never denied its inspiration gained from bands like Iron Maiden, and the opening track, “Arrow Of Time,” is certainly soaked heavily in that sort of sound. Bursting through the gates with a furious dual guitar assault, we are then treated to energetic guitar rhythms, harmonized vocals, and a Scott Rockenfield that is absolutely on fire behind the kit. This incarnation has made it abundantly clear that the first handful of albums in the band’s career have been its muse and this release does not disappoint in that regard. “Guardian” drips of the politically-minded revolutionary themes of Operation: Mindcrime, the intro to “Hellfire” resides somewhere between there and Rage For Order, while “Selfish Lives” cuts deep into the heart of their Empire album. Add to this even more surprising additions such as “Eye9,” which sounds like it’s right out of a Tool playbook with Ed Jackson’s bass-heavy foreplay and vocals which fade in and out of existence thanks to frontman, La Torre. This track has stuck in my mind more than any other thanks to the intensity it contains, its over-the-top chorus, and the soaring dual-guitar solo coming from Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren. And so far I’ve only discussed the first half of the album!
So, you’re curious as to the negatives, eh? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, as I really dig this LP! However, some people might find the next two mentions to be low-points. The first comes with the track entitled “Hourglass,” which contains an atmosphere that partially feels like it might have been intended for the 2009 release, American Soldier. The latter is the song “Just Us,” which I believe may be the softest song Queensrÿche has composed since “Silent Lucidity.” It doesn’t quite reach that level of quietness, as there’s certainly a lot of energy in the tune, but it is undoubtedly the ballad here and took me by surprise as it is such a stark contrast to the rest of the tracks. However, I enjoyed both of these songs thoroughly and wouldn’t even qualify them as skip-worthy unless you’re truly only interested in the more intense, classic-sounding songs. The release closes out with a minute-long interlude entitled “The Aftermath,” which showcases a very dramatic side of La Torre, leading into the nearly eight-minute long, reflective title track, drawing my thoughts to play-throughs of Promised Land. I honestly haven’t enjoyed a Rÿche album this much since that 1994 release.
If we imagine Queensrÿche’s last, self-titled release as a warm-up, Condition Hüman has surely proven itself as a fully-realized performance. No matter how much I enjoyed the prior release, and I did immensely, this incarnation’s sophomore effort has improved on each weakness and capitalized on each success. Wilton and Lundgren’s blazing dual-guitar assault on “All There Was” is one of the best I’ve heard in some time from the Rÿche and the album’s only shortcoming appears to be that it doesn’t last longer. While this is a very cliché thing to say about an album, I honestly listened to the lengthy final track and, upon its closure, I thought, “Why couldn’t this go on for another five minutes or so?” Condition Hüman is an album with one foot in the past and the other planted firmly in the future, with Queensrÿche showing us it can provide the best of both in a way that’s both nostalgic and refreshing!