For a band that’s been around as long as QUEENSRYCHE, a steady decline in quality is to be expected with each new release (especially when there was nothing but drama and bullshit in the late 90s/00s, when former frontman Geoff Tate was still part of the show). However, QUEENSRYCHE’s comeback in 2013 with their self-titled album was mighty, mainly due to new vocalist Todd La Torre. Fortunately, “The Verdict” continues the momentum that began with “Queensryche” and through “Condition Human”, leaving us with a solid piece of metal that earns its place among Queensryche’s classics.
The band is tight and the songs are, in a word, dynamic. Each track is an adventure all on its own because it’s impossible to know where it’ll take you. The keyboards are only sprinkled throughout, usually to highlight instrumentals or back up transitional sections: an attribute that makes the entire album seamless and enthusiastic. Less is definitely more in this regard.
La Torre proves himself as quite the force; with regular drummer Scott Rockenfield on hiatus, La Torre also mans the drums and does a damn good job, to say the least. He lays down tasty groove after tasty groove (especially in the choruses of “Light-Years”, where the patterning is nonstop) and rarely carries a monotonous beat.
In addition to dynamic songs and impressive musicianship, this album offers plenty of variety. “Dark Reverie” is relatively light but still carries a steady energy. Going a step further, the closer, “Portrait”, is very laid back and atmospheric. There’s also “Launder the Conscience”, which has so many ups and downs that it’ll keep you on your toes, and the steady beating of “Man the Machine” is lively and features some awesome shredding.
“The Verdict” proves once again that cohesion is far stronger than any amount of skill or experience. For a progressive/heavy album, while not exceptionally technical, it flows incredibly smoothly, with each song transitioning into the next with an ease that’s akin to a concept album. It’s blindingly evident that QUEENSRYCHE’s current lineup is a match made in Hell that will likely only get better with time.
Originally written by Kane for powerthorn.com.