Genre: Heavy/Power/Progressive Metal
Label: Century Media Records
Queenrsyche’s long and turbulent course includes a decade with 5 huge albums that left their mark on their time and led the group to the top and to global recognition, as also a period of steep downfall and complete disdain with unsuccessful albums, until the proven necessary departure of Geoff Tate in an attempt to save whatever they could from their lost prestige. Replacing Tate with La Torre in vocals proved to be the best solution for the band and was widely accepted by fans. “The Verdict” is the third album with Tod La Torre in vocals and as in the previous 2, the band is trying to revive the style of their first albums using many elements from them, adding new sounds as well. A significant change is the presence of La Torre also behind the drums (since Scott Rockenfield is taking a break and who knows when and if he will be back), but without having an important difference in their sound, since he is playing in the same style, probably deliberately. Parker Ludgrev and La Torre’s participation in the song writing process is much more present, in an album the biggest part of which has elements from “Empire”, “Promised Land” and “Rage For Order” in a more dynamic approach. Despite La Torre’s dynamic drumming and excellent vocals, “Blood Of Levant” that opens the album is just mediocre, but “Man The Machine” that follows impresses with its intense tempo and is one of the best in the album. Eddie Jackson’s bass is dominating in the very good, dark and heavy “Light Years”, a song out of Queensryche’s standards that reminds Nevermore a lot and gives a different colour to the band’s sound. With an eastern intro, slow tempo that speeds up in the chorus “Inside Out” is another mediocre tune that is hard to give a second chance to, same with “Propaganda Fashion”. “Dark Reverie” is a semibalad that bears something from “Promised Land” and vocals that remind of Tate, a pleasant listen and worthy of attention. The great guitarwork by Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren and the excellent vocals by La Torre make “Bent” the best song of the album, a heavy and atmospheric composition that binds perfectly with the diversity of Rage For Order with Nevermore’s dark style. If something is worthy in “Inner Unrest”’s slow tempo is the very good guitarwork, while the aggressive and dynamic “Launder The Conscience” is impressive with the interchange of melodic keyboards and intense rhythm. “Portrait” closes ideally the record being melodic and melancholic and having La Torre’s best vocal performance accompany the great riffs and a superb solo in the second best composition after “Bent”. I know that fans of Queensryche are expecting to listen to another “Operation Mindcrime”, “Empire”, “Warning”, but this is very difficult, because many things have changed, tough years have gone in between and most of all, Chris De Garmo’s absence from composing (not to underestimate anyone else) makes this impossible. “The Verdict” is not reaching “Empire” levels, but it is a decent work, better than “Condition Human” and takes a big step forward in the band’s attempt to restore Queensryche’s name, in contrast with Geoff Tate that does everything to disappoint the band’s fans.