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
THE EYES OF A SOLDIER
Concept Album Inspired By Veterans’ Stories Examines The Consequences Of War
From The Soldiers’ Perspective
Album Available March 31 From Atco/Rhino; U.S. Tour To Begin April 16 In Seattle
Queensrÿche envisions war through the eyes of a soldier with the band’s twelfth studio release, the epic concept album AMERICAN SOLDIER. The ambitious album encompasses a dozen songs inspired by numerous interviews with veterans conducted by Geoff Tate, the group’s singer and chief songwriter, who was intent on telling their story using their words.
After speaking with soldiers who served in various conflicts — from World War II to Iraq — Tate turned their firsthand experiences from the frontlines into an unflinching musical examination of the life of a solider and the consequences of war. AMERICAN SOLDIER will be available from Atco/Rhino on March 31 for a suggested list price of $18.98 (CD) and $9.99 (digital).
Tate, Michael Wilton (guitar), Ed Jackson (bass) and Scott Rockenfield (drums) recorded the album in 2008 over the course of nine months. The idea for AMERICAN SOLDIER, Tate says, came from hearing stories from fans that are veterans, as well as his own father, who served in both Korea and Vietnam. “My father was a career military man, but until very recently he never spoke about what he went through. I think that reticence is true of a lot of veterans, which means most people never truly understand what it means to be a soldier at war. Hearing what he and some of our fans have endured made me want to share their stories with the world. This is an album about the soldiers, for the soldiers, as told by the soldiers themselves.”
Those stories resonate at the heart of AMERICAN SOLDIER, imbuing each song with vivid details about both the emotional and physical impacts of war, evoking war zone battles (“Middle Of Hell”), sacrifice (“The Killer”), loss (“If I Were King”), the longing for home (“Remember Me”), and adjusting to society after returning from war (“Man Down!”).
Tate recorded many of his interviews with the soldiers, and some dialogue from these discussions is mixed into several of tracks, allowing the soldiers’ own words to help tell their compelling stories. The band also brought a few of the soldiers into the studio with them to record vocals. The verses of the track “Unafraid” feature the voices of Chris Devine, a Vietnam veteran, and Sean Lenahan, a veteran of Somalia, recalling their war experiences while Tate provides the anthemic chorus. Also making a guest vocal appearance is Tate’s 10-year-old daughter Emily on the gripping duet “Home Again,” which examines the emotional toll of war from two perspectives, with Geoff singing from the soldier’s point of view and his daughter singing from the viewpoint of the child left behind.
Making the album, Tate says, was an enlightening process. “I was surprised to learn how little has changed through the generations. I spoke with a Vietnam vet whose experience wasn’t all that different from a soldier who fought in Somalia almost 30 years later. But what surprised me the most was how antiwar most soldiers are. To me, that makes their sacrifices even more moving.”
Soon after the release of AMERICAN SOLDIER, Queensrÿche will launch an extensive spring tour of the U.S., with international dates to follow later in 2009. The shows will be presented in three suites, with the band performing sets from AMERICAN SOLDIER, RAGE FOR ORDER, and EMPIRE. The first date of the tour will be April 16 at Snoqualmie Casino in the band’s hometown of Seattle.
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”
16 Snoqualmie, WA Snoqualmie Casino
17 Snoqualmie, WA Snoqualmie Casino
18 Portland, OR Roseland Theatre
19 Chico, CA Senator Theatre
22 Anaheim, CA House Of Blues
23 San Diego, CA House Of Blues
24 Los Angeles, CA House Of Blues
25 Las Vegas, NV House Of Blues
26 Salt Lake City, UT The Depot
28 Denver, CO Paramount Theater
29 Kansas City, MO Voodoo Lounge @ Harrah’s
30 Milwaukee, WI Northern Lights Theater
1 Milwaukee, WI Northern Lights Theater
3 Walker, MN Northern Lights Casino
5 Grand Rapids, MI Intersection
6 Cleveland, OH House Of Blues
7 Chicago, IL House Of Blues
8 Chicago, IL House Of Blues
9 Mt. Clemens, MI Emerald Theatre
10 Greensburg, PA Palace Theatre
12 Verona, NY Turning Stone Casino
13 Stamford, CT The Palace Theater
14 Sayerville, NJ Starland Ballroom
15 New York, NY Nokia Theatre
16 Atlantic City, NJ House Of Blues
17 N. Myrtle Beach, SC House Of Blues
19 Tampa, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
20 Lake Buena Vista, FL House Of Blues
21 New Orleans, LA House Of Blues
22 Houston, TX House Of Blues
23 San Antonio, TX Hemisfair Park
24 Dallas, TX House Of Blues
29 Albuquerque, NM Kiva Auditoruim
30 Phoenix, AZ Dodge
4 San Francisco, CA Fillmore
5 Kelseyville, CA Konocti Harbor
Queensrÿche is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on their 12th studio album, AMERICAN SOLDIER. The concept album, due this spring from Rhino/Atco, finds the band once again tackling some heavy subject matter, this time focusing on telling the story of war from a firsthand perspective. Singer and chief songwriter Geoff Tate has spent the last few years conducting extensive interviews with veterans and has crafted their thoughts into this epic tale. AMERICAN SOLDIER examines American wars from World War II through Iraq from the viewpoint of those in the trenches and on the frontlines. Following the album’s release, Queensrÿche plan to present tracks from the album live on an extensive spring tour of the U.S., with international dates to follow later in 2009. The first date of the tour will be a hometown gig at Seattle’s Snoqualmie Casino on April 16.
“Queensrÿche has always had incredible support from members of the Armed Services,” says Tate. “It seems like after every show, I’d end up speaking with a fan that was or had been involved with the military. The more and more I began to hear their accounts and feelings, the more I really felt a conviction to tell their story. Over the last two years, I’ve conducted dozens of one-on-one interviews with veterans of many different American wars. I listened to their amazing and moving recounts and did my best to examine war through their eyes.”