Review Summary: R.I.P. Queensryche 1981-2011
Let's face it: if you are familiar with the world of metal, then the name "Queensryche" is a household name for the band whose early works are well-regarded. Yet, everything since 1997's Hear in the Now Frontier has been extremely polarizing to old and new fans alike. There WERE signs of hope in the year of 2009 with American Soldier, an album that contained tracks with promising glimmers of the old style. So, we reach the biggest question of them all: What the hell were they thinking with this album???
Here's the thing; the band's recent output might have been lackluster, but nothing compares to the murderous peak they reach here. Dedicated to Chaos is a essentially a lengthy, boring tour of all that has gone wrong with Queensryche. Even a half-tolerable song in the form of the radio-friendly "Get Started" can't save the record from complete mediocrity in any case.
So, the biggest problem? Geoff Tate. You might be wondering: "How does Queensryche's general figurehead become the worst aspect of the album?" The problem is twofold: In his vocals and his lyrics. Most of his vocal output consists of weird off-key wails and spasms that don't sum up to much of anything (except getting incredibly annoying after a while); even his softer side has random out-of-place melodies and dynamics that don't even up with the sound. The lyrics, on the other hand, are ridiculously simple on the record, from the concept of (are you ready for this?) driving (*gasp*) to trying to unify the world in peace. Tate's subjects are overall very limited here, and the lyrics don't expand well on the premises.
The best song here is the aforementioned opener "Get Started," a very straightforward rock track with typical choruses and semi-decent vocals. The song isn't anything extraordinary, but at least the band seem to know what they're doing, and the track is fun to listen to now and again. Let it sink in, because this feeling doesn't last for too long.
When firing up the other tracks, one of the huge issues with the album is that it just drags and drags and draaaaaaags. It's understood that the band wanted to create an album with more rhythm (and that they did), but the rhythms could have at least been more exciting or stimulating; Instead, the band are content with using and recycling bored, tired drumming. Because of stuff like this, the 53:55 runtime truly feels like an eternity.
Another predicament is that there are some more experiments this time around, often with unfavorable results. The worst of this appears in "Hard Times" which mixes soul, reggae, space rock, and a couple of other genres into a mixing pot, but instead it ends up being very dispassionate-sounding and unconvincing with its influences. The atmosphere that is created only serves to drain any energy the song might have possessed.
This album is not an album where you see a bump in the road; In this album, you see a dark abyss with a small crevice of light seeping out of it. In other words, Queensryche are getting fewer and fewer chances to redeem themselves, and with this album, they just might have killed their career for good. What a shame.
Queensryche (on this album):
Geoff Tate – lead vocals, keyboards, saxophone
Michael Wilton – lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Eddie Jackson – bass, backing vocals
Scott Rockenfield – drums, percussion, keyboards
Parker Lundgren – lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars, backing vocals