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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


Live Review: Judas Priest, Queensrÿche and Rival Sons


Headline Act: Judas Priest

Support: Queensrÿche, Rival Sons

Venue: Bournemouth BIC

Date: 24/07/2011

Fans gathered feverishly early on a cool Sunday evening in anticipation of Judas Priest’s final UK date on their farewell Epitaph tour. Opening the night was Rival Sons. The American four-piece are building up a reputation as one of the most promising new rock acts and their placement on the Epitaph tour has allowed them to play some of the UK’s larger venues. A decent audience turned up to watch them deliver a convincing half-hour set where they displayed their 70s classic rock roots with essences of Led Zeppelin, Free and the Black Crowes. Amongst the cliché vintage blues-rock is a band with a true identity, and despite frontman Jay Buchanan’s stage presence being a carbon copy of Robert Plant, he thankfully doesn’t try to sound like a tribute act.

Next on the bill was Seattle’s Queensrÿche. Once pioneers of progressive metal, the band has significantly moved on over the years and has recently released their most controversial album to date with Dedicated to Chaos. An album that saw them yet again reinvent their sound has received a great deal of largely unfair frustrated criticism from fans and critics alike. Get Started from that very album opens things up, with Geoff Tate jumping around in a trilby and waistcoat failing to engage Priest’s loyal ‘metal maniacs’. Thankfully the band then strayed away from the current release to perform some of their classic material. Anthems such as I Don’t Believe in LoveEmpire and Eyes of a Stranger manage to get the audience singing along, with Empire being a particular standout. Despite Tate’s recent statement that Queensrÿche are definitely not to be seen as a prog band, there is space in the set for the experimental pairing of NM 156 and Screaming in Digital. The sci-fi themed songs work excellently together both musically and lyrically, with the tales of futuristic machine dominance over mankind being expertly executed by the band with Tate’s operatic vocals on top form.

It took around twenty-minutes for Judas Priest’s monolithic stage to be created and as soon as the veil was dropped the crowd was greeted with a display of pyrotechnics, lasers and smoke plumes. Priest ploughed effortlessly through heavy renditions of classics such as Metal GodsHeading Out to the Highway and Victim of Changes, the latter turning out to be arguably the best performance of the night. Rob Halford’s vocal performance was sublime, and for a man in his sixties his ability to reach all the highs from the record is astonishing. The audience warmed instantly to KK Downing’s replacement Richie Faulkner who does his best to imitate his predecessor’s every move. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Faulkner was also handed the majority of the guitar solos, allowing him the exposure to best display his technical ability and prove himself a worthy replacement. Halford handed over full vocal duties to the crowd for Breaking the Law before giving them the right to mosh during the metal powerhouse that is Painkiller. A blistering rendition of their heaviest song created a wall of colossal heavy metal and an atmosphere that few bands manage to achieve.

To round off the night the crowd was treated to three encores before Priest finally brought an end to their stunning performance. If this indeed turns out to be their final major world tour then they are ending on a glorious high. However, with a new guitarist and Halford’s vocals sounding as powerful as ever, one would suspect that there’s at least another album lurking somewhere on the horizon.


Reviewed by Daniel Aston 26/07/2011

Photography by Daniel Aston

Album Review: American Soldier – Queensrÿche



Release: 2009

Artist: Queensrÿche

Label: Rhino

Track Listing: 1) Sliver 2) Unafraid 3) Hundred Mile Stare 4) At 30,000 feet 5) A Dead Man’s Words 6) The Killer 7) Middle of Hell 8) If I Were King 9) Man Down! 10) Remember Me 11) Home Again 12) The Voice

After the return to form with Operation: Mindcrime II (2006), Queensrÿche challenge themselves with yet another elaborate concept album in American Soldier. The concept doesn’t follow a scripted story instead describing the stories of those who have served under the US Army from WW2 to the present day wars in the middle-east. In some ways this was the make-or-break album of their later career. A string of poorly received albums was broken with the sequel to their original conceptual masterpiece and this album would prove if they could continue to get back on track.

The ‘Hey’ and ‘What’s Up’ shouts of Sliver alarmed me at first, had Queensrÿche gone hip-hop? Thankfully not, the opener is a brief yet powerful rock track that immediately is musically and lyrically superior to anything on Operation: Mindcrime II. The production has also notably improved; the lack of reverb on the previous release has been corrected giving the music space to breath. Tate’s vocals are remarkably powerful with the gradual rise in pitch during the end of the second verse being truly electrifying.

Unafraid includes a basic chorus and riff, but the job of this track is to allow space for the soldiers who were there to speak out. Throughout the album the soldiers themselves are heard providing their personal experiences and feelings towards serving in war, a touch that is one of the key aspects that makes this album so special. Queensrÿche take no shortcuts in aiming to provide a record that best represents the bravery of the armed forces whilst paying tribute to them.

Hundred Mile Stare is powerful mid-paced rock number with At 30,000 Feet following the same style. A Dead Man’s Words picks up the pace, an eerie eastern riff circles below the layers of atmospherics before an Alice in Chains-style chorus kicks in. The track progresses smoothly through classy riffs, dramatic overdubs and a chilling saxophone solo – a clear standout. The Killer is another solid tune that describes a Viet Nam veteran’s return home who has to deal with accusations of being a ‘baby killer’, just one of the strong emotional themes presented through the music on American Soldier.

Middle of Hell maintains the inspired notions of the first half, the saxophone returning and soloing along side Wilton, thus providing a Pink Floyd feel amongst the layers of chiming guitars and echoing vocal harmonies. A soldier’s account of witnessing the loss his fallen comrade opens If I Were King. The track however develops into being rather upbeat, this style continues with Man Down! and helps the album become an enjoyable listen as opposed to a miserable and depressing venture such as Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut which musically has been a great influence on Queensrÿche’s sound through the years.

Two ballads follow, Remember Me and Home Again. Both prove to be very powerful, the latter including a performance from Tate’s young daughter. Themes of the soldier-child relationship are explored, ‘when I come back are they gonna think that I’m some kind of monster?’ is projected during Remember Me where Home Again describes the future reuniting of the family with the struggles of holding it together during the stressful time apart. The Voice rounds things off nicely with another moderately paced and upbeat rock number, although the record may have been better ending on a more solemn note.

Queensrÿche choose to go the slow and thoughtful route of song-writing for the most part of this album, some more heavy tunes in the vein of Sliver would have made this even better, but maybe that’s not what this record’s all about. Discussing a delicate matter on such a large scale was ambitious, yet it has been achieved in great style, something not done this well since Roger Waters’ Amused to Death in 1992. With an hour’s worth of brilliant atmospheric and inspiring music, Queensrÿche deliver their best album in over twenty years.


Rating: [9/10]



1)      Sliver

2)      A Dead Man’s Words

3)      Unafraid


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 14/01/2010