Queensryche- Condition Human (Review)


Queensryche has always been a band that is reflection of the evolution of hard rock/metal itself.
Through the ’80s it was seen as the American answer to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWBHM). Comparisons to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were there because of their intricate, progressive musicianship and soaring vocal style.    The ’90s, Queensryche had a darker, more sombre edge to reflect the turn in music towards the grunge movement or death metal in the underground. Albums like Empire, Promised Land and Hear In The Now Frontier had more atmospheric songs suited to the overall musical culture. Their take on what was around them has always had their own sound. Harmonious, melodic, but still a distinct brand of hard rock/metal.
The guitar harmonies of Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo through the 80s and most of the 90s were unmistakable. They played not as separate players, but as a cohesive team. A time of upheaval in the late 90s and most of the 00s made for a sound that was less harmonious, literally. DeGarmo left and a string of replacements went through the Queensryche camp in an attempt to find that same “teamwork.”
As the years passed and a nasty and very public battle ensued between then singer, Geoff Tate, and the rest of the band, we learned that there was a lot of inner tension (to put it mildly) among the band members. A split resulted in Tate being replaced with Todd LaTorre.
Condition Human is a moment of further growth for the rejuvenated band. Elements of their early style has now returned. Songs like Guardian and Arrow of Time harken back to their harder edged style in Warning with the crisp, melodic moments of their maturing albums Operation Mindcrime and Empire.
Other tracks like Hellfire and Eye9 have the darker bass-driven grooves reminiscent of Promised Land, while the rest of the album has moments of all of these albums with a sprinkling of the digitally-driven album Rage For Order, especially on the songs, All There Was and The Aftermath. I could see these songs being performed live back-to-back with the likes of Walk In The Shadows or Screaming In Digital.
Overall, Condition Human is a delightful dichotomy. One part comforting nostalgia to moments in the band’s history at their best and one part renewed metal band with a burst of fresh joy, doing some of the most vibrant music of their storied career.
The growth of second guitarist, Parker Lundgren, has given Queensryche that harmonious guitar “team” again. He’s grown over the last several albums to a point that he’s Wilton’s perfect counterpoint.
I loved most of it. The only part that could’ve been edited or removed entirely were some of the extended fade outs at the end of Guardian or the rather repetitive lyrics in the last minute of Hourglass. It’s still absolutely worth picking up because those are very minor when compared to an overall great album. (4/5)