Queensryche and producer Christopher ‘Zeuss’ Harris prove to be a match made in Hell, with The Verdict being an album not to be missed.
American heavy metal royalty Queensryche have just released their newest album, The Verdict. Released at the beginning of March, the bands’ fifteenth studio album was recorded with their current line-up, comprised of founding members Michael Wilton (lead guitar) and Eddie Jackson (bass), as well as newer members Todd La Torre (vocals) and Parker Lundgren (rhythm guitar). The Verdict is the band’s third album with vocalist Todd La Torre, who also acts as resident beat-generator due the absence of drummer and founding member, Scott Rockenfield.
Blood of the Levant rockets the album to life with all the energy you would expect from a Queensryche album being presented in spades. The riff-centric track has an abundance of flare, with absolutely no holds being barred and each member of the band contributing to the creation of a certified headbanger.
Eager Queensryche fans will be familiar with the second track, Man the Machine, which was released as the first single of the album back in November. Man the Machine builds on the momentum established in Blood of the Levant, with its roaring guitar and drum lines providing some of the tightest instrumental unity in metal from recent memory.
Light-Years brings down the speed of the previous tracks while managing to sacrifice absolutely nothing in the way of heaviness. The track opens with an ominous drone, creating an atmosphere that’s suddenly cut through by the abrupt introduction of the guitar lines and Eddie Jackson’s especially crunchy bass riffs. The harmonized guitar solos, courtesy of Queensryche’s resident shred-lord and founding member, Michael Wilton, especially stand out on the track, which speaks volumes due to the consistently well-crafted and well-arranged nature of the rest of The Verdict.
Inside Out almost appears to take everything good from Light-Years and applies a thick layer of grunge over it, with a somewhat sombre tonality being pertinent throughout the four-and-a-half minute song. This is reflected by the vocal content of the track, with Inside Out’s lyrics focusing on a sort of abstract internal reflection, almost appearing to be an homage to the works of the likes of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
Propaganda Fashion returns to the form of the opening tracks, being faster, harder and louder than Light-Years and Inside Out. The track blazes to life with all elements of the song being on-display from the get-go and relentlessly holding on to the initial speed until the track’s conclusion.
Fans of the band may also be familiar with the album’s sixth track, Dark Reverie, which was released as the second single of the album back in January. The track opens with a cleanly-played, arpeggiated guitar riff, setting the base for the rest of the band to jump on. Dark Reverie’s verse vocal melody is perhaps the most memorable of the album, with the tune guaranteed to stay in your head regardless of whether you know all the lyrics. The track depicts an excellent use of dynamics, with operatic levels of tension being effectively built and released through the use of volume.
Bent does a sensational job of delivering exactly what fans of Queensryche want; anthematic choruses, larger than life guitar and bass riffs, and a hard-hitting drum line tying the track together, all while maintaining the dark (almost doom-like) atmosphere Queensryche is known for.
Inner Unrest and Launder the Conscience both roar to life by putting more of Wilton’s lead work on display, expressing just how much of a juggernaut guitarist he is. The tracks continue to demonstrate the solidarity of Queensryche as a band, with each layer of the group interestingly intertwining through an effective use of syncopated verse melodies before building towards the song’s grand choruses.
Portrait wraps up the album with more of a slow burn than a bang, being perhaps the most evocative track The Verdict has to offer. The musicianship on display in Portrait reflects the bands’ love for their craft, and (like Light-Years and Inside Out) contributes to the fact that Queensryche more than understands that not every song needs to be harder, faster and louder than the tracks preceding it. Overall, Portrait is a great conclusion to a great album.
Queensryche’s The Verdict is produced by Christopher ‘Zeuss’ Harris, an American producer who has recently worked on albums by the likes of Overkill, Dee Snider and Rob Zombie. His work consistently stands out as being some of the finest mixing, mastering and production on offer in modern metal, with The Verdict being no exception. If you enjoy The Verdict, be sure to look into his other work too; you will not be disappointed.
Pick up your copy of the album HERE!