Review Summary: Queensryche fly too close to the sun – sometimes ambition can prove fatal.
Fans of the band know that, for better or worse, Queensryche have never created the same album twice and they haven’t reversed that trend now. Dedicated to Chaos is not an extension of American Soldier or a forced attempt at reliving the band’s glory days, in fact it’s a whole new chapter in the band’s sound. Unfortunately, it’s a chapter that most long-time fans will probably wish was never written. Granted, the band have never made things easy on their fans, but even when they were at the top of their game and making unexpected changes to their sound, they never did anything like this. In fact, this is probably their biggest stylistic leap since Hear in the Now Frontier, and the transition has not been smooth. The largest problem with Dedicated to Chaos is that Queensryche tried to integrate dance pop into their prog rock formula, and they only ended up proving how out of touch they are with that particular style of music.
In all honesty, the dance pop itself isn’t really the problem because it can almost entirely be limited to an increased emphasis on groovy rhythms, and that aspect of the album isn’t bad. The problem is that, indirectly, this influence has caused the band to simplify their music and approach each song with a forced swagger that could be described as nothing less than awkward. No one is guiltier of this forced persona than the band’s vocalist, Geoff Tate. His lyrics consist almost entirely of flat witticisms, false bravado and lines that attempt to prove that he is edgy and up-to-date on what all the cool kids are doing. The problem is that dropping buzzwords such as ‘world wide web’, ‘YouTube’, and ‘apps’ isn’t enough to convince anyone that you’ve done more than read the technology section of CNN. Also, misspelling song titles while referring to one’s self as a ‘hotspot junkie’ certainly doesn’t imply being on the cutting edge. Along those same lines, listening to songs of lust and sex as described by a middle-aged man does not have nearly the appeal that he might imagine it does. Instead, those lyrical ideas land squarely in the uncomfortably creepy category and give songs such as “Got it Bad”, “Luvnu”, and “Wot We Do” an extra reason to avoid them.
Musically the album doesn’t fare much better, but there are at least a few positive aspects. A majority of the songs are dominated by the band’s rhythm section, and they actually do a pretty good job of stepping up to the task and belting out the grooves. The main issue is that although the rhythm section is expected to drive each song, it wasn’t given the power and up-front placement in the mix to truly accomplish that task. The drum sound itself isn’t too bad, although it could have been given a little more punch, but the bass guitar is flat and very low in the mix. This weak placement seriously diminishes the rhythm section’s overall impact, which is a shame considering the fact that they’re one of the sole positive aspects of the album. Unfortunately, the guitar players don’t deliver the same amount of quality material as their rhythm section counterparts. The vast majority of riffs on this album are dull and serve as little more than additional pop-influenced sound effects. That’s not to say that all the riffs are bad, because there are excellent moments on here, but they are often overshadowed by lackluster vocals and cheap-sounding synths that are clearly (but for no discernable reason) trying to emulate the brass instrumentation of those nineties swing bands.
My attitude towards this album has changed many times over the course of multiple listens and hopefully the review reflects that. The problem is that just about every track has a few elements that grab your attention, but they’re almost always ruined by the band’s attempt at integrating dance pop influences. Whether that means dull, repetitive choruses, lifeless riffs or terrible synth effects (or any combination of the three), it just seems that there is always some negative element ready to bury any brief shining light. Those fans that have found enough to appreciate on the band’s last few albums will probably find enough on Dedicated to Chaos too, but it hasn’t been this hard to like a Queensryche album since Hear in the Now Frontier – take that for what it’s worth.
Border not boarder in the last paragraph and fares not fairs in the fourth paragraph, but other than that, impeccable review. It definitely confirmed all my suspicions about the album, I don't know where they've been trying to go for the past 20 years. Like you said in your blog post, they may not have realized that Silent Lucidity pushed post-Mindcrime Queensryche, not the actual albums.
It definitely confirmed all my suspicions about the album, I don't know where they've been trying to go for the past 20 years. Like you said in your blog post, they may not have realized that Silent Lucidity pushed post-Mindcrime Queensryche, not the actual albums.
I don't know if they even know where they've been trying to go for the last twenty years. I think a lot of that is the vocalist deciding that he hates metal and trying to turn Queensryche into his solo band.
no-one expected anything
this is no time to take Queensryche seriously
Knowing what they're capable of means that you can't just dismiss them 100%
Edit: Oh yeah, thanks for the grammar corrections, too.
saw them live about a year and a half ago, it was actually depressing because the venue was less than half full. I still rocked out hard except for when they played their new album (at the time), which sucked hard.
Imo Dream Theater has aged far better than these guys, except for maybe LaBrie, Tate's vocal abilities are beyond his. I listened to Get Started on youtube a few weeks ago, really really bland and I don't think I'll be checking this one out at all, American Soldier was decent. Awesome live band though, I saw them live in Melbourne in 2009 and Tate was an amazing frontman, not to mention the rest of the band, their performance was top-notch.
"Retail Therapy?" You've gotta be fucking kidding me. This is the same band that gave us "The Needle Lies" and "Empire," and now we're going fucking shopping? Bullshit.
Good review. I don't know if I'll be able to bear listening to this. I was a huge Mindcrime fan, and seeing them perform the album live was amazing, so I wouldn't feel great about lumping pretty pink sparkly purses on top of that while Geoff parades around in guy-liner.