|Queensryche Tribe||Sanctuary Records|
I have never been a Queensryche fan. There – I've said it. I can almost hear the stunned silence. They just don't do a lot for me. But I have heard each and every album and can see why so many do love them. They are certainly one of a kind.|
Tribe sees the band re-unite with guitarist Chris DeGarmo. Fans across the world held high hopes for this album and I think it's ok. Yes, it's certainly better than the last couple, which seems to be the view of most fan comments so far.
But it still fails to reach any new heights and as far as what I can hear, the return of DeGarmo hasn't resulted in any major difference in the band's recent sound.
I found the album to be fairly laid back – not overly heavy and more akin with the band's most recent output.
As far as analyzing the album, for the first time I decided to call in my good mate Mick Ward, who is a long time 'Ryche addict. I feel his review is an excellent reflection of the album, right down to the mark he awarded it. So I'll run his full review and agree with the score, which is now the official Melodicrock.com rating! The following are his words – feel free to add your own in the interactive reviews section….
In my opinion, when talking things Queensyrche, there are 3 types of fans.
The purists of the early days, up to and including Mindcrime, who have long since moved on choosing to ignore everything since, and for some, including, Empire. The long time devotees of the Ryche (this is me), who have (and on occasion reluctantly) persevered with the band regardless of their output since Mindcrime, and the Queesnryche fans who don't give a toss about history and judge each release independent of the last. It is these fans, the ones who have loved either Hear in the Now Frontier or Q2k who will lap up Tribe without second thought. Understandably, I am confident the early year purists will choose to avoid Tribe. For those of you like me, don't despair; there is light at the end of the tunnel if you are prepared to take the walk!
Of those of us who have followed the comments made by the band members leading up to the release of Tribe, I think it's safe to say that most, myself included, have been overcome with anticipation. I dare say a few of the early year purists were fuelled with anticipation also, especially when informed of DeGarmo's return. Unfortunately, after my first listen of Tribe, I feel it more appropriate to say that you, like me, may have fallen victim to the hype. Let me explain.
A while ago on Queensryche.com Tate made the comment, referring to the recording of Tribe, that the band was in the process of making the most intense album since Operation Mindcrime. Misleading. To the listener, this is not an intense album.
For whatever reason, DeGarmo returned for writing credits, and from what I believe the recording also, of Tribe. Wrongly or rightly I gained the impression that this would mean a return to form, and quite possibly a return to "Classic" Queensryche. Unfortunately this is not quite the case.
In a nutshell Tribe is a combination of Hear in the Now Frontier and Q2k. In fairness I would go so far as to say that it reflects the better songs from both of these previous albums. Tribe also has a familiar vibe to that of Promised Land, the majority of the songs being similarly paced throughout the album, and quite dark in both lyric and music (check out 'Blood' for dark lyrics, I'm guessing this one's about the recent war on Iraq.). I find this dark sound a good thing, as the songs that are the exception to the rule, 'Losing myself', 'Falling behind' and 'Doin Fine' are, to my ears, the weaker songs on offer, their chirpiness and attempt at being uplifting feeling somewhat unnatural and forced. But on a good note I also believe this to be a better album than either Hear in the Now Frontier or Q2k.
I'm interested to see how the buying public responds to Tribe, as lead track and first single 'Open' is quite a good song and the obvious choice for lead single. One of a number of DeGarmo co-credited tracks, 'Open' has grown on me to the point that I rate it as the best Queensryche song I've heard since 1994's Promised Land, and I am satisfied this is as good as most of the songs on that very album. A big fat heavy rhythm with lush vocals. This is modern day Queensryche at its best. Given the right promotion it could fare well.
Unfortunately I doubt that the remainder of the album will satisfy the average buyer who expects, after hearing 'Open', that everything is 'Ryche' with their world again.
This problem is mainly attributed to poor track listing. After the fine opener we a force-fed track two, the horrible 'Losing myself', reminiscent of the 2002 Tate solo album. This is a poor song so early in the album. Michael Wilton stated recently on MusicInsight.net that Tate had been bringing music written by his solo band to the floor, and that he (Wilton) was not amused, going so far as saying the songs were, put politely, NOT worthy of Queensryche. (Good on you Michael for standing proud!) And here's the evidence, 'Losing Myself', written by Stone/Tate. Those early year purists, and maybe others, who out of 'curiosity' give the album a listen, I can see walking away after only track 2 without listening any further! It's not a terrible song, and if included on the Tate solo album would have been one of the better tracks, it's just, as I have no doubt Wilton would agree, NOT a Queensryche song.
And on the issue of track listing, after track three we get three slower tunes in a row. Why - there are heavier songs to come so why not mix it up a little?
Let's move on shall we?
The title track 'Tribe' is quite interesting, very like 'Disconnected' from Promised Land, but with a stronger chorus, although the chorus did take persevering with before I got it. I now really like this track but would not be surprised if it is the least favourite for some of you.
I love 'The Art of Life', and believe this should have been extended by another few minutes and closed out the album. (No traditional epic closer here people, instead we get a little happy ditty that I think is quite poor). 'The Art of Life' has the smallest saxophone piece you're likely to hear, a sound, blow, hoot, blast or two and nothing more. It's a shame as I for one would have liked to have heard a full-blown sax performance. The song has Geoff talking through the verses, and the chorus more than makes up for lack of vocal. A slow, brooding, dark, and damn fine song.
I also have to comment on 'Rhythm of Hope', an acoustic-come-epic track, with a fine melody line in the verses from Tate. But I feel the guys (no DeGarmo here) have gone for too epic a chorus. I would have liked a little less come chorus time, as they say, less is more, right? Otherwise a very strong song.
Whether it's me being starved for some new Ryche, and some harder Ryche at that, or whether I'm easily influenced due to my passion for this band, I am quite taken with Tribe and am enjoying it more a more every day.
My three favourites are 'Open', 'The Art of Life' and 'Rhythm of Hope', no,' Tribe', no, sorry I can't decide! I can't comment on the packaging as I haven't seen it, but from what is displayed on the net the packaging looks good, and will hopefully go to create a more complete album, which would be a good thing.
I can't urge you enough to throw away all your expectations and disregard the hype, then give this album a decent go. Work with it for a while before concluding one way or the other, as you may need to give the album some initial effort. If it pays off for you like it has for me, it will be well worth it!
PS; For the record I loved Geoff's solo album, and rate Tate as the best vocalist, period, regardless of the fact that his range may be diminishing; we all get older people! Also for the record, my favourite Queensryche albums are Empire and Operation Mindcrime. So there!
Low marks for: Delivering an album of total running time, a mere 42 minutes.
For a lack of (almost total absence of), guitar solos, which brings me to my next point…
For choosing to make an album which (although I'm am very into right now), is an album I would still regard as a bit of a yawn, when the opportunity to really push the envelope again was there for the taking (particularly with metal being healthy again, prime example: Maiden).
And of course failing to live up to the hype, which, might I remind you, was brought about by Queensryche.com and certain members themselves.
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