Album: DEDICATED TO CHAOS
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.
1) At The Edge
2) Big Noize
3) Around The World
Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 01/08/2011