Let’s hop into the Way Back Machine and travel to 1997. Queensryche has released Hear In The Now Frontier. It’s their sixth full length studio album and with Promised Land being a strong follow up to Empire, fans were just itching to get their grubby little hands on the latest.
The album was so-so, but something changed. The duel harmonies of Wilton and D’Garmo were missing. The sonic pulse of Jackson and Rockenfield was tempered. Tate’s vocal acrobatics were long gone. The songs were OK, but the signature sound coul not d be found.
As the years rolled on, the albums got worse. There were glimpses of promise, but much like a lover who is nothing but a flirt that leads you on, Queensryche, the band that I obsessed over for a decade, turned into a rock tease
And then it happened. Jackson, Wilton, and Rockenfield finally had enough of what seemed to turn into a relationship that looked like a marriage with a an enabler fueling a controlling spouse. Tate was fired, lawsuits were filed, two version of the band hit the road and the studio, and for now, all that seems to be left are negotiations and rock songs.
After Tate’s first shot across the bow of the S.S. Queen of the Ryche in the form of his album Frequency Unknown, the only question left was what would the remaining founding members, most recent guitarist Parker Lungrenand, and former Crimson Glory vocalist Todd LaTorre do?.
The answer is a self-titled return to where the band left off after Empire. In interviews, Tate says that he never wanted to rest on the laurels of the band’s signature sound. That’s fine. Experimentation is great. Rush experimented to the point you barely knew where the synthesizers began and Power Windows ended. Even the Gods from the Great White North, knew when it was time to get back to their roots. And I’ll tell you this. I haven’t taken a nearly 20 year vacation from Rush albums.
After an opening ditty by Rockenfield, things get rolling with the punch of a Lungren written track called “Where Dreams Go To Die”. With the punch of the return of the guitar harmonies, the melodies of the chorus, the lyrics with purpose, and Todd LaTorre’s Atlas strong vocals, it is clear that Queensryche is back. When it comes to reclaiming “The Empire”, these guys are not fucking around.
This is not a long album. It clocks in at a little over 35 minutes, but much like the first two Van Halen albums, Queensryche with Todd LaTorre rockin’ the mic packs a ton of punch into the nine full tracks. Don’t believe me? Listen to “Fall Out,” “Spore”, “Redemption”, and my personal favorite, “Don’t Look Back”. Which, by the way, is the first song written by LaTorre and Wilton, when their partnership was just going to be a side-project.
Does this release fill your empty belly? Not quite. However, it’s the best musical appetizer fans could ask for while the band works this effort, then hits the studio to record the songs they either didn’t finish in time for this release, and the new tracks they have already started to demo.
No matter how the trial that determines who gets the “Queensryche” name and all that goes with it turns out; it is clear that all this band needed was to break up with their singer, and find someone new who has the same fire and passion for the same kind of music.
I guess you could say that Todd is the frontman equivalent to the amazing person you meet after a horrible long term relationship. The one who pulls you out of your funk, helps you see the world in a different light, and makes you believe in love again.