I have been a huge fan of Queensryche for years. In the 80’s and 90’s, I probably saw Queensryche play live five or six times. I have been disappointed with their last few CD’s although Mindcrime II gave me a glimmer of hope with this band. I just don’t think the band has been the same without their long time guitarist, Chris DeGarmo. With that being said, I had low expectations for the new Queensryche disc “American Soldier”.
“Sliver” starts this record off with a song that almost sounds like a classic Queensryche song, but there is a twist. Jason Ames is a guest vocalist on this song. His chants during this song almost gives this tune an almost rap metal slant. Tate sounds better than expected, but I am not sure if Ames parts on this song were really necessary. I did not think this was a very good opening track at all.
Queensryche has never been afraid to make a statement with their music, and they try it again with the song “Unafraid“. This song sounds like news clips mixed with a heavy Disturbed like riff. The chorus is very good, but the rest of the song is a hot mess. I am not sure who mixed this CD, but the audio clips mixed into this tune are quite distracting.
“Hundred Mile Stare” is the first song on American Soldier that I could truly get into. This song actually has some potential as a radio single. The guitar work is pretty good, and Tate’s voice is in fine form here. Once again, the mixing on this song is odd. This song would have been better served by an end fade instead of the end chant.
“At 30,000 ft” is another solid tune with some pretty good song writing. This song is written from the perspective of what I assume is a fighter jet pilot. You have to listen to the words to fully appreciate this song. This is pretty cool stuff.
“A Dead Man’s Words” is longest tune on this disc, clocking in at over six minutes. This song has a really cool, moody sounding guitar riff that blends well with Tate’s vocals. This is another song that grows on you with repeat listens.
“The Killer” is a mid tempo number that seems to get better with each listen. This song is quickly becoming one of my favorites on this disc.
“If I Were King” is the first song that I heard off of “American Soldier” when it debuted on the Eddie Trunk show a few weeks ago. I have heard this one a few times since then and I like it pretty well now.
On “Home Again” Geoff employs the help of his ten year old daughter Emily. Emily sings quite a bit of the vocals with her dear old dad on this song. I have to imagine that it is pretty hard for a child her age to sing in a key this low. I am sure that Geoff will have fond memories of recording this song, but I am not so sure that the end result is what he was looking for. It is an average tune at best.
Queensryche has released better CD’s than “American Soldier” in the past, but this easily the best they have done in quite some time. This CD doesn’t show the band trying to make an attempt at trying to recapture their past glory, but Michael Wilton did a pretty good job at trying to recapture that classic Queensryche guitar sound. The subject matter is interesting, and the song writing is pretty good for the most part. This disc could have used a couple of more catchy tunes to push it over the edge, but the music tends to grow on you which is a good thing. This probably isn’t that type of album that will generate a bunch of new fans for Queensryche, but it should keep their long time fans happy for quite a while.
Rating: Out of 10
3. Hundred Mile Stare
4. At 30,000 ft
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
Geoff Tate – lead vocals, horns
Michael Wilton – lead & rhythm guitars
Eddie Jackson – bass
Scott Rockenfield – drums