Category Archives: Music

Album Review: A Dramatic Turn of Events – Dream Theater

Album: A Dramatic Turn of Events

Release: 2011

Artist: Dream Theater

Label: Roadrunner

Track Listing: 1) On the Backs of Angels 2) Build Me Up, Break Me Down 3) Lost Not Forgotten 4) This is the Life 5) Bridges in the Sky 6) Outcry 7) Far From Heaven 8) Breaking All Illusions 9) Beneath the Surface

Arguably the most anticipated Dream Theater album in quite some time, A Dramatic Turn of Events is the aptly named product of a shaken band. Co-founder, drummer and songwriter Mike Portnoy infamously departed last year on the back of the group’s most successful album in search of a more metallic venture with Avenged Sevenfold. Once he was surprisingly shown the door from that project he was justifiably denied his place back in Dream Theater and the band (after a long drawn out process) recruited former Extreme and Annihilator powerhouse Mike Mangini. Recent reports that Portnoy is now looking to sue his former band mates is casting yet another shadow over the Dream Theater camp, but if not more so over the ex-drummer himself. For this new album is the result of a band bravely marching on, leaving the past behind and embracing a new future. Perhaps their strong defiant approach has left Portnoy more than just a little bitter.

Eager fans will already know the opener On the Backs of Angels since it was released as an early album teaser. Our first glimpse of the new outfit is most impressive. A technically advanced yet musically enjoyable track, the opener proves to be one of the most satisfying Dream Theater tunes in recent years. Beautiful chiming clean guitars marry with the atmospheric keyboard pads and chugging riffs. Build Me Up, Break Me Down is also a success, presenting brutally heavy memorable riffs and catchy chorus lines.

Lost Not Forgotten sees the band return to the technical exploitation that they’ve become renowned for. The complex sections are perfect opportunities for Mangini to prove his worth, complementing shifting rhythmic patterns with his likeable, if not Portnoy-inspired style. Despite the instrumental virtuosity, the track fails to deliver on the melodic side. At ten minutes in length it falls victim of a tried and tested formula that the band have been milking to death over the last decade. Outcry and Breaking All Illusions contain further examples of this.

Bridges in the Sky is a more inspired musical venture. With an intro that contains Tibetan throat singing, harps, oriental chimes and a choir, the track sets itself up to be nothing short of epic. It doesn’t disappoint with the eleven minutes packing in quality riffs and melodies to make it easily one of the most playable tunes on the record. The inspiration is also found on the tender ballad Far From Heaven. The single-length song contains a believable performance from James LaBrie accompanied by piano and strings. A much more stripped-down song, it proves to be one of the album’s most enjoyable. Beneath the Surface has the same approach, the band proving that they can do just fine without a drummer at all.

If fans had any doubts that Dream Theater would struggle without Portnoy then they can breathe a sigh of relief. A Dramatic Change of Events contains some great material and much promise for where the band may grow with future releases. This is one of their more enjoyable records in recent years and a strong one at that.


Rating: [7/10]



1)      On the Backs of Angels

2)      Far From Heaven

3)      Bridges in the Sky


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 22/09/2011

Album Review: Heritage – Opeth


Album: Heritage

Release: 2011

Artist: Opeth

Label: Roadrunner

Track Listing: 1) Heritage 2) The Devil’s Orchard 3) I Feel the Dark 4) Slither 5) Nepenthe 6) Haxprocess 7) Famine 8) The Lines in My Hand 9) Folklore 10) Marrow of the Earth 11)

Here it is, the most controversial Opeth album to date. Fans were warned well in advance that Heritage would be the start of a new musical direction that, daringly, would contain no death growls; the only album to do so since 2003’s Damnation. Whilst Watershed was an aptly named step in a new musical direction that largely favoured soft melodies over brutal death metal, this new release is another world still.

With keyboardist Per Wiberg departing from the band earlier in the year, his replacement Joakim Svalberg opens up the album with the solo piano piece Heritage. The beautiful solo spot conjures up classical and jazz vibes, a little on the short side at two minutes, it’s merely the doorway to the journey ahead. The Devil’s Orchard is a fine representation of the new style. One of the first noticeable changes is that the guitar tones are noticeably fuzzier and less ‘metal’ than before. Martin Axenrot’s drumming also adds an entirely new dimension to the sound. Credit has to be given to his playing here, his technical jazz talent is present throughout the album and the band’s new style has given him space to prove himself a versatile musician. The new sound takes a while to get used to but once the past is left behind there’s no doubting the grandeur of the opening song. Well-structured and melodically rich, The Devil’s Orchard is sure to become a staple in the new live set.

Whilst I Feel the Dark contains the classic Opeth acoustic vibe fans will be accustomed to, there are songs here that unashamedly display Mikael Åkerfeldt’s other musical influences. Slither is indisputably Rainbow. Not only that but it contains a guitar solo that is characteristically Ritchie Blackmore in every way. Their roots are revealed further with Ian Anderson-inspired flute solos in Famine and the pompous prog nature of Folklore reminiscent of 70s Camel. The latter track is the clear album standout and one of Opeth’s finest songs to date. An eight minute exploration that concludes with a spiralling dance-fused section, something not previously associated with the band that works tremendously well here.

Heritage is the beginning of a new chapter for Opeth. It’s worlds apart from their death metal days, a clear progression from Watershed and, if you’re expecting Damnation 2, it’s not that either. Open minded fans will cherish this new venture and it will surely enlighten a new prospective audience. Not everything is perfect and there are a few touches of mediocrity in tracks such as Nepenthe and Marrow of the Earth which show that Opeth have yet to fully master this new musical territory. The metal-heads out there will be disappointed if expecting anything remotely heavy, this is pure revitalised 70s prog rock.


Rating: [8/10]



1)      Folklore

2)      The Devil’s Orchard

3)      Slither


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 19/09/2011

Album Review: Sympathetic Resonance – Arch/Matheos


Release: 2011

Artist: Arch/Matheos

Label: Metal Blade

Track Listing: 1) Neurotically Wired 2) Midnight Serenade 3) Stained Glass Sky 4) On the Fence 5) Any Given Day (Strangers Like Me) 6) Incense and Myrrh

It’s been twenty-five years since John Arch last appeared on a full-length album. Since Awaken the Guardian, the former Fates Warning frontman released his solo EP A Twist of Fate in 2003 with help from former band mate Jim Matheos. An impressive return it seemed, yet it was to be another eight years before a full-length record would emerge, and here we are with Sympathetic Resonance. Bringing in further ex-Fates Warning members Joey Vera (Bass) and Frank Aresti (Guitar) almost makes this a version of Fates Warning in itself with Bobby Jarzombek completing the line up on drums.

This is an ambitious and undoubtedly progressive release, containing six solid pieces of music, three of which clock in past the ten minute mark. Neurotically Wired and Midnight Serenade are stunning tracks to open up the album. Arch’s angelic vocals glide sublimely above the voracious technical instrumental passages that shift relentlessly from one heavy riff to another. The guitar tones are beefy and heavy as hell. Creating a monstrous wave of sound, Matheos and Aresti execute intellectual guitar wizardry through the shifting time signatures. Each section compliments the next as tension-building soft passages mould seamlessly with the heavy riffage. Arch’s persistent use of the harmonic minor scale creates a sense of mystery that runs throughout the album. His vocal delivery is staggeringly powerful and with his high range as strong as ever this record is proving to be more than just a welcome return.

Stained Glass Sky is the longest track clocking in just shy of fourteen minutes. The instrumental intro is a show of technical brilliance and a prime example of how these musicians have inspired the likes of Dream Theater and Symphony X. Despite its mammoth length the track succeeds in being melodically rich and musically entertaining. Any Given Day (Strangers Like Me) is not quite as polished with some sections feeling a little out of place if not forced to fit into the arrangement. On the Fence and album closer Incesnse and Myrrh are shorter ventures (the former still hitting the eight minute mark) that solidify the strength of the album; expertly written songs that don’t outstay their welcome. Arch’s lyrics frame him as the perfect storyteller. His first person fantasy accounts blend perfectly with the instrumental progressions, together forming an intriguing musical landscape.

Far from just a Fates Warning side project, Arch/Matheos is a collaboration that has proven it has a place in the current progressive metal scene. The high calibre song writing seldom fails to impress, the individual performances from each contributing band member are unfaultable and the production is clear and polished. Kicking off a month full of highly anticipated progressive releases from the likes of Dream Theater, Opeth and Mastodon, Arch/Matheos have set the standard high.


Rating: [9/10]



1)      Neurotically Wired

2)      Stained Glass Sky

3)      Midnight Serenade


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 05/09/2011


Live Review: Animals as Leaders

Headline Act: Animals as Leaders

Support: The Bad Channels, Convex

Venue: Bunters, Truro

Date: 26/08/2011

All the way from California, acclaimed jazz-prog-metal act Animals as Leaders ventured down to Truro for a free-entry performance at Bunters. The fans could hardly believe their luck, and perhaps the band could hardly believe how their booking agent had allowed it to happen. Tosin Abasi and co have been embarking on a heavy touring schedule that has seen them play virtually every day for the past few months. Fears that the trio may be suffering from fatigue were put to rest as the band effortlessly ploughed through a set demonstrating high-calibre musicianship.

In today’s musical climate it is harder than ever for a band to get the spotlight and accumulate the following it needs in a landscape that is cluttered with music piracy and immeasurable competition. Kudos then to Animals as Leaders, their ambitious world tour on the back of their debut album has shown their passion and dedication in getting their music heard across the world.

Support came from two local bands. Convex opened up the night with a set of grunge rock. Sounding like a modern Nirvana, the band managed to deliver a decent set yet bizarrely managed to not acknowledge the audience once. The Bad Channels’ then swiftly succeeded in rallying the audience with an excellent set of high-energy stoner rock. During this time, Abasi was perched by the merch stall. Seemingly warming up by playing through the night’s set alone, a small audience had gathered around him simply to watch his virtuosity up close.

When the headline act took to the stage the room became full to the brim and the venue erupted in a roar of cheers. Animals as Leaders played for just over an hour, displaying excellent performances of fan-favourites such as Wave of Babies, Tempting Time, and CAFO. The band were somewhat taken aback by the high positive reception and shouts for an encore left Abasi in a state of bewilderment, resorting to apologetically packing away his gear. An impressive set nevertheless and a promise to return in the future left all those who witnessed the magic hungry for more.


Reviewed by Daniel Aston 28/08/2011

Photography by Daniel Aston

Album Review: Until Fear No Longer Defines Us – Ghost Brigade

Album: Until Fear No Longer Defines Us

Release: 2011

Artist: Ghost Brigade

Label: Season of Mist

Track Listing: 1) In the Woods 2) Clawmaster 3) Chamber 4) Traces of Liberty 5) Divine Act of Lunacy 6) Grain 7) Breakwater 8) Cult of Decay 9) Torn 10) Soulcarvers

If you like your metal dark, brutal and twined together with delicate acoustic passages and imaginative song structures, then Ghost Brigade’s third offering should be part of your record collection. The Finnish quintet has struck gold with this release. Until Fear No Longer Defines Us is every bit as good as their previous albums, and then some. The band has shown great promise with their open-minded approach to song writing and their diversity is in full swing here, combining elements of progressive rock, death metal and sludge metal into a magical concoction.

The album opens strongly with In the Woods and Clawmaster. The former is a beautiful stripped-down acoustic number that displays vocalist Manne Ikonen’s powerful emotive delivery. A soothing albeit bleak opener drifts away before the album explodes with Clawmaster that sees Ghost Brigade hit the death metal switch and unleash a wave of intense riffs. The storm isn’t allowed to rage on uncontrollably and is instead divided by mesmerizing soft passages. Ikonen’s talents at switching between growling death and clean vocals emphasises the light and shade of the song with each side of his technique being equally impressive. The inclusion of Aleksi Munter (Swallow the Sun, Insomnium) on keyboards adds great sonic depth to the music, particularly during the eerie gentle sections.

Finnish metal has a reputation for being a bit on the depressing side and Ghost Brigade are no exception. Chamber is as melancholy as it is beautiful. An excellent slow-tempo song packed full of emotion and haunting melodies, something Ghost Brigade’s music is full of. The band sound at times like a cross between Katatonia and Alice in Chains, Ikonen’s clean style being a nod towards that of Jerry Cantrell. The doomy chords have an element of grunge to them whilst maintaining prog sensibilities that at times sound akin to the likes of Opeth and Mastodon. The band admits to having a rich bank of influences and this is unsurprising with their music being so open. With such an extensive source of inspiration to draw from, Ghost Brigade still manage to create their own sound – something rare in today’s metal scene that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

The album develops from strength to strength with Traces of Liberty and Divine Act of Lunacy providing harder hitting numbers fuelled with energy and bite. Dull moments are few and far between on this album yet Grain is a momentary lapse in aggression and a temporary dent in quality, coming across a little predictable and long. Cult of Decay and Torn are finer numbers, presenting fresh musical ideas and more successful riffs.

The band’s progressive edge has produced epics such as Breakwater and Soulcarvers. The former being the band’s longest track to date, a mid-album mammoth that comes close to the nine-minute mark. Ending the record on a solemn not, Soulcarvers slows down proceedings for a moment of reflection through meandering guitar melodies and subtle touches of musical brilliance. A fantastic listen.

Ghost Brigade have produced an impressive piece of work here and have proved themselves to be a promising act for the future. This is an impressive show of song writing that scores highly on both musicianship and emotional delivery. Highly recommended.


Rating: [9/10]



1)      Clawmaster

2)      Breakwater

3)      Cult of Decay


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 20/11/2011


Album Review: In Waves – Trivium


Release: 2011

Artist: Trivium

Label: Roadrunner

Track Listing: 1) Capsizing the Sea 2) In Waves 3) Inception of the End 4) Dusk Dismantled 5) Watch the World Burn 6) Black 7) A Skyline’s Severance 8) Built to Fall 9) Caustic Are the Ties That Bind 10) Forsake Not the Dream 11) Chaos Reigns 12) Of All These Yesteryears 13) Leaving This World Behind

Trivium return to the formula used on 2005s Ascendency with their new record, developing their old thrash sensibilities whilst continuing the melodic exploration where Shogun left off.  In Waves is another bold attempt to create a concoction of brutal metalcore with catchy vocal hooks that will need to refresh their reputation and prove their worth as a credible force in the face of a new decade of music.

The title track executes this premise to perfection. A solid opener that highlights Matt Heafy’s now convincing vocal style, his combination of harsh growls and strong clean vocals have a powerful delivery that shines amongst a unified high level of musicianship. Inception of the End is another well-structured track with memorable melodies. New drummer, Nick Augusto, adds his element to the mix with an energetic show of rhythmic adjustments that work both for and against the music. Whilst his tempo shifting is well placed and needed, the trigger-happy blast beats and double-kick spamming stands at times out of place, particularly when competing with Heafy’s melodic vocal hooks.

The album continues to impress with highlights such as Black, Built to Fall and the particularly well-crafted Caustic Are the Ties That Bind Us. Hard hitting sections are moulded perfectly with clean passages, producing interesting arrangements decorated with memorable riffs and high-calibre guitar solos. A Skyline’s Severance however is a victim of the flat modern metal sound. With little in the way of dynamic range the track relies purely on musical quality and delivery that unfortunately isn’t up to scratch. This proves to be a significant dash of mediocrity that crops up again in the second half with Chaos Reigns proving itself to be one-dimensional and undefined. That said, two tracks out of thirteen hardly bring a black cloud over what is wholly a consistent album.

Of All These Yesteryears is a satisfying album closer that grows from ballad to metal anthem in fine style with alternating time signatures of sixes and eights crafting an interesting sonic landscape. It flows directly into Leaving This World Behind, a short instrumental slither of sound and that, as with Capsizing the Sea, only contributes to the song next to it.

In Waves is a success that manages to deliver fifty minutes of heavy yet accessible metal that will both satisfy fans and gain new followers. Trivium have put a lot of effort into proving to critics that they’re more than a predictable Metallica clone and In Waves is a testament to this.


Rating: [8/10]



1)      In Waves

2)      Caustic Are the Ties That Bind us

3)      Black


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 11/08/2011


Album Review: Kill All Control – George Lynch



Release: 2011

Artist: George Lynch

Label: Rocket Science

Track Listing: 1) Kill All Control 2) Done 3) Fly on the Wall 4) Brand New Day 5) Wicked Witch 6) Voices in My Head 7) Resurrect Your Soul 8) Rattlesnake 9) Sun 10) Man On Fire 11) My Own Enemy 12) Son of Scary 13) Go It Alone

George Lynch has significantly moved on musically since his eighties heyday with Dokken and this latest release is another example of his ability to morph sonically to suit current trends. With all hopes of an original Dokken line-up reunion dead in the water, fans will have to make do with another Lynch solo record.

Like his first solo effort Sacred Groove, Kill All Control boasts an assortment of special guests. This time around we are treated to contributions from the likes of Keith St. John (Montrose, Burning Rain), Will Martin (Earshot), Marq Torien (Bulletboys) and Fred Coury (Cinderella). With a fine cast in place, Lynch stands in the shadows (no pun intended) for the majority of the album, keeping his shred chops at bay in favour of allowing the songs space to breathe. This works to an extent with tracks such as Fly on the Wall and Brand New Day being strong enough to stand up on their own merits. However the lack of solo embellishment on the opening two numbers results in short songs that feel lacking in substance and in much need of a spark from a glistening solo. Thankfully Lynch finds space to express himself during the likes of Wicked Witch and Resurrect Your Soul, delivering his signature style in a restrained and tasteful manner within well-crafted compositions.

A lot of people will predictably dip into this album to hear Lynch shred like it’s 1987, but here he has found a place in the true band format similar to the way Joe Satriani has with Chickenfoot. Gone are the hyperbolic solos and the clichéd hair metal lyrics and in their place lie collection of contemporary rock songs.

Son of Scary sees Lynch step fully into the spotlight, paying homage to Mr Scary to the point of using the original riffs and melodies. See it as Mr Scary – part 2. The instrumental is a highlight and is easily the best track on the second half which plods on with some mediocre tunes lacking fire such as My Own Enemy and Go It Alone.

Kill All Control contains a healthy selection of solid hard-rock anthems with elements of blues and even grunge with Voices in My Head sounding like a typical Alice in Chains number. Lynch has done well in developing his modern sound and his ability to use his technical talent only where needed shows his professionalism and maturity as a guitarist. Fans of Dokken and Lynch Mob shouldn’t hesitate to give this a spin, but if you’re a newcomer looking to check out Lynch’s chops you’d be better off starting with his eighties Dokken material.


Rating: [7/10]



1)      Wicked Witch

2)      Son of Scary

3)      Resurrect Your Soul


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 03/08/2011


Album Review: Tactical – World Under Blood



Release: 2011

Artist: World Under Blood

Label: Nuclear Blast

Track Listing: 1) A God Among The Waste 2) Into the Arms of Cruelty 3) Pyro-Compulsive 4) Dead and Still in Pain 5) Purgatory Dormitory 6) Under the Autumn Low 7) I Can’t Stand His Name 8) Revere’s Tears 9) Wake Up Dead (Megadeth cover)

Tactical is the long awaited debut album from melodic death metal band World Under Blood. Formed by CKY frontman, Deron Miller and Divine Heresy drummer, Tim Yeung, the band have been releasing tracks since 2006, gradually building up attention via their MySpace page. As the group’s founders made space from their other projects, World Under Blood eventually signed to Nuclear Blast Records in 2009 and were ready to complete their first album.

Their debut opens with the impressive A God Among The Waste. A calculated blend of death metal, rhythmic variation and melodic hooks is executed well and is elevated by supreme musicianship and a tight production. The album looks set to be a cracker. Unfortunately, the well-crafted song writing doesn’t follow through with Into the Arms of Cruelty and Pyro-Compulsive being predictable blast-beat infected affairs. To their credit, the former track is comparable to mid-nineties Death material, although it fails to be anywhere near as memorable.

Dead and Still in Pain conjures up some of the magic displayed in the opener and the blast beats feel more appropriate, contributing to the light and shade of the song. The track builds up momentum before breaking into an excellent mellow outro section which ends far too prematurely, a second guitar solo would have been much appreciated. Purgatory Dormitory sounds like a filler and is a return to the uninspired formula fuelled by generic riffage and general noise. Under the Autumn Low and I Can’t Stand His Name both have their moments but the album doesn’t pick up again until Revere’s Tears. The track in question is another journey through a landscape of soft and harsh textures and builds itself up as being something of an epic before ending rather abruptly. Further development on numbers such as this and Dead and Still in Pain would have strengthened the album to a higher level. The record closes with an enjoyable cover of Megadeth’s thrash classic Wake Up Dead, although this particular rendition doesn’t offer much variation over the original to make it particularly worthwhile.

All in all, Tactical is a mixed bag that contains some brief glimmers of quality and potential amongst a collection of missed opportunity. The band should see this as a stepping stone upon which to build their identity with future releases.


Rating: [5/10]



1)      A God Among The Waste

2)      Revere’s Tears

3)      Dead and Still in Pain


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 02/08/2011


Album Review: Juggernaut of Justice – Anvil



Release: 2011

Artist: Anvil

Label: The End Record

Track Listing: 1) Juggernaut of Justice 2) When Hell Breaks Loose 3) New Orleans Voodoo 4) On Fire 5) FuckenEh! 6) Turn it Up 7) This Ride 8) Not Afraid 9) Conspiracy 10) Running 11) Paranormal 12) Swing Thing

Upon hearing the name ‘Anvil’ some will either snigger at images of frontman, Lips, playing his guitar with a dildo before a festival audience in the eighties, or warm to the band that won so many hearts with their 2008 documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil. The documentary in question was an unprecedented career revamp for a band that had been pretty much invisible for over twenty years. It showed the true dedication of a group that has struggled to be taken seriously, and revealed their die-hard passion and love for the music they create and the dream of being rock stars. However, all that hard work and relentless touring needs quality to back it up, and now more than ever the band need a solid album to prove their worth. With the first album since their award-winning film and the fourteenth record in their career, can Juggernaut of Justice make an impression upon today’s metalheads?

The record opens up strongly with the title track, When Hell Breaks Loose and New Orleans Voodoo all containing powerful riffs, flashy guitar solos and strong vocal performances. Anvil’s old-school thrash riffs sound particularly poignant thanks to the album’s great production, something that a lot of their later self-released records lacked. On Fire and FuckenEh! are respectable metal numbers, the latter a real live anthem (as the title suggests). The album dips significantly during the half-way point with Turn it Up and This Ride sounding like fillers, but Not Afraid, Conspiracy and Running succeed in reviving the tempo and maintaining the same quality as the opening numbers.

Paranormal almost threatens to outstay its welcome at over seven minutes long. It’s a slice of doom metal that sees the band tread back into the realms of unintentional parody with Lips’ vocal lines sounding like something out of a cheesy horror b-movie. Things at this point needed to be uplifted by another thrash gem; unfortunately the band had other ideas. Instrumental album closer Swing Thing feels completely out of place with brass sections playing a surprisingly heavy role. Despite the randomness of the finale, it only adds to the charm of the record which contains all of what’s great about Anvil: full on metal and passionate musicianship held together with an admirable sense of humour.

For fans of the band, Juggernaut of Justice most certainly won’t disappoint. As for newcomers, this album is well worth checking out. It’s the solid effort that the band needed and although nothing on the album particularly stands out as being a classic, it still delivers a level of consistency that makes it an enjoyable listen. With the majority of Anvil’s back catalogue being reissued apart from their sole classic Metal on Metal, this is a good place to start your collection.

It’s hard to say whether Anvil will be seen as a credible force in today’s metal scene, but with the Big Four touring together and revamping thrash metal around the globe, this is the best time for them to step back into the spotlight. Forget everything you previously associated with the band: the dildos, the laughable stage gear and the comedic song titles, and approach Juggernaut of Justice with an open mind. If you do that, chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what is a commendable album.


Rating: [7/10]



1)      Juggernaut of Justice

2)      When Hell Breaks Loose

3)      Not Afraid


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 01/08/2011


Album Review: Dedicated to Chaos – Queensrÿche



Release: 2011

Artist: Queensrÿche

Label: Loud and Proud/Roadrunner

Track Listing: 1) Get Started 2) Hot Spot Junkie 3) Got It Bad 4) Around the World 5) Higher 6) Retail Therapy 7) At The Edge 8) Broken 9) Hard Times 10) Drive 11) I Believe 12) Luvnu 13) Wot We Do 14) I Take You 15) The Lie 16) Big Noize

Dedicated to Chaos is the latest instalment in a prolific run of releases for Queensrÿche, and unsurprisingly it demonstrates yet another change in musical direction for the band. However, with this release comes their most controversial record to date. Combining elements of electronica, pop, hard rock and hip-hop, this album has the potential to alienate even hard-core fans. Enter Parker Lundgren, a new addition to Queensrÿche. Having previously worked with Geoff Tate during his solo period, some fans already sighted the possibility that Dedicated to Chaos may end up sounding like another Tate solo project. The result is exactly that, with a few essences of the old ‘rÿche sound here and there.

The album kicks open with a duo of hard hitting rock numbers. Get Started and Hot Spot Junkie sound like Q2K and Tribe era tunes with a bit more bite, the latter being one of the band’s heaviest songs to date. There are equally heavy moments elsewhere with Retail Therapy, I Take You and the epic At the Edge. Proof enough that Queensrÿche still rock, here are to be found some of their heaviest riffs. At the Edge is the clear album stand-out, combining ambient atmospherics with bone crunching riffage to dynamic perfection. Just as the record looks set on becoming a hard rock affair, things take a dramatic turn.

Broken and Hard Times provide a pair of prog-tinted ballads rich in layers of thick orchestration. This allows Tate to display the more soulful side of his voice and it is at this point that the music sounds most reminiscent of his solo material.

Musical diversity is explored in a pop direction with Got It Bad, Higher, Around the World and Wot We Do. Around the World is the most radio-friendly track here. With a strong infectious chorus that reeks of stadium rock and essences of U2 it works rather well. Alternatively, Wot We Do sounds like a remnant of the band’s recent cabaret show and lacks the same power and lasting appeal. Got It Bad is much harder to listen to. The lyrics ‘you got those sunglasses on’ are not only sickly but are also repeated too often than is bearable. Musically the song carries a monotonous structure and along with Drive and I Believe is a low-point in the album.

Fans longing for a return to the Empire sound will warm to tracks such as Luvnu and The Lie which tentatively touch upon the golden formula of the ‘rÿche’s early 90s sound. Why the band have decided to use bizarre spellings in some of the track titles is perplexing, perhaps they were foolishly going for a more ‘down with the kids’ approach. Whatever the reason don’t prejudge the material here without giving it a chance. Album closer Big Noize is prime example of this. Epic in its execution, it acts as a platform for Tate to exercise his vocal range to great effect, being very similar in style to Q2K closer The Right Side of My Mind. A killer track with a flippant name.

The album production shines significantly upon first listen and is glorious when played through a good stereo system or headphones. Kelly Gray has worked wonders in the studio and the ‘true headphones record’ that the band promised proves to be one of the most powerful sounding rock records in recent years.

Musically, Dedicated to Chaos is the most diverse album in Queensrÿche’s catalogue and is all the better for it. If approached without albums such as Empire or Operation: Mindcrime in mind, it stands on its own as a strong and intriguing album full of twists and turns with plenty of replay value.

Those who have only just become accustomed to the sound of their previous record, American Soldier, will have to prepare for yet another surprising musical direction. While Queensrÿche’s bravery for taking a risk with an album like this is commendable, it is by no means a perfect product. Lyrically it is weaker than their previous effort with references to Youtube and the ‘Wi-Fi way’ sounding a little cheesy and dated. It’s not as consistent as its predecessor either and is guilty of some mediocre-at-best filler tracks. However, there is quality amongst chaos on show here. Be sure to listen with an open mind and give it a few spins before casting judgement, this might just grow on you.


Rating: [8/10]



1)      At The Edge

2)      Big Noize

3)      Around The World


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 01/08/2011