Review: Queensrÿche “Digital Noise Alliance” [Century Media Records]

Review: Queensrÿche “Digital Noise Alliance” [Century Media Records]

- in Reviews

Here’s a pretty catchy album that has some good things going for it but rarely rises above being a nice but rather ordinary album.

We begin with the upbeat and catchy “In Extremis”. It’s a nice power/heavy metal track, well-performed and uplifting, but the ending, with its high note and suddenly faster riff, are the only moment with a highly noticeable energy. Likewise, “Chapters” is catchy and upbeat, but not very energized or passionate. It sort of feels like a less interesting second part to “In Extremis”.

Things get more interesting with “Lost in Sorrow”, with its more melancholic title and tone, its heavier and catchier, almost groovy riff, and more passionate vocal delivery, with rasps and belted notes. This is where I start to enjoy the album more. The rest is also hit or miss.

Despite its stupid title, “Sicdeth” also has some sense of energy, confusion and fear, with lyrics about betrayal and hardships, ending on the gloomily poetic line “Those eyes they cry such pain”. Its main riff, occasionally accompanied by strange, almost industrial guitar effects that Queensrÿche seem to enjoy using lately, is instantly memorable. These effects are pretty well-used in “Nocturnal Light” and “Behind the Walls”. “Nocturnal Light” sounds darker and is mostly built around a heavier riff and powerful chorus, also including a not particularly impressive but still very catchy solo.

“Behind the Walls” a longer and complex track with passionate, raspy and belting vocals, and a catchy “Did you ever love me? Did you ever love you?” chorus. I’m not sure if this is just one more repeat of the Queensrÿche formula, or the ambitious return to their glory days that this album desperately needs. The ballad “Forest” also feels like 80s Queensrÿche, with an interesting melody and guitar work. “Realms” also tries heavier riffs and strange guitar effects, and a sort of mysterious vocal delivery on the verses, with a more passionate one on the chorus.

“Out of the Black” has energy and catchiness, and an urgent feel. I enjoyed it despite thinking it basically recycles riffs and vocals stylings from “Nocturnal” and “Sorrow”. “Hold On” tries something different, with heavier, almost dangerous-sounding riffs, contrasted with some nice melodic singing and an interesting guitar solo.

Then we get to the two last tracks, “Tormentum” and a cover of “Rebel Yell”. “Tormentum” is the longest and most ambitious track, with an energetic and raspy vocal delivery, some powerful riffs and verses, and a sort of broadcast/spoken word part about the “justification of torture”, a powerful guitar solo and a haunting last verse. The “Rebel Yell” cover… well it’s a Queensrÿche-style version of “Rebel Yell”, with some heavy guitars, nice electronic sounds and low-pitched singing on the verses that sounds higher in the choruses. I guess there’s an unspoken rule about how every album must have an unexpected, seemingly out of place cover that doesn’t fit the theme of the album but still kind of works. This is a pretty cool metal and new wave cover, I think I like it almost more than the Drowning Pool cover of “Rebel Yell”. New wave metal needs to become a thing.

The last two tracks are worth waiting for, I guess, but I found the album somewhat lacking. See, I don’t love every heavy metal album I review. This album wasn’t painful or completely worthless, in fact it did have a few good things going for it. The guitar work is interesting, the songs are at least pretty catchy, and Todd de la Torre is clearly doing his best. But he sounds a little too much like Geoff Tate at times, and as a whole, the album sounds like Queensrÿche are recycling their early successes and not putting much effort into it. Something about this album didn’t click with me. To me, the songs where kind of nice but nothing more, in fact they kind of bored me. I didn’t hate this album, but I’m not sure I’ll go back to it many times after my review. Again, I don’t think it was that bad, but I was just kind of disappointed because I know Queensrÿche can do better than that.

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