Queensryche succeeded in reviving their indigenous progressive metal approach by introducing lead vocalist Todd La Torre of Crimson Glory into the lineup back in 2012 – a decision which could have just as easily proved catastrophic, however the members of Queensryche managed to overcome the odds and produce a full-fledged comeback.
Obstacles from a variety of provenances would test the strength of the current Queensryche lineup, including a deplorably public court battle, a second lineup testing the attention span of heavy metal crowds, and the time constraints which surrounded the making of Queensryche’s 2013 self-titled comeback album. Against rational expectations, Queensryche succeeded in surpassing any hindrances.
There is currently nothing standing the way from Queensryche turning their backs on the controversial past and pressing forward into the future, retaining relevance through fresh compositions and rigorous touring schedules. Where the preceding eponymous Queensryche release displayed convictions of redemption and vindication, the follow-up installment of ‘Condition Human’ is a saluted progression both musically and lyrically.
Beginning with the introductory riff rocker “Arrow of Time,’ a selection centered prominently upon operatic vocal harmonies and the vaguely Iron Maiden-inspired combative leads of Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren, the tone has been set; ‘Condition Human’ is firmly planted in progressive metal and hard rock territory that hasn’t been overtly embraced in a Queensryche release in multiple decades.
Arguably the heaviest Queensryche installment to date, songs such as “Toxic Remedy,” “Eye9” and “All There Was” demonstrate a level of determination and impressionable execution that attentive listeners have not heard since the days of the 1983 EP and 1984’s ‘The Warning.’ How the surviving core of Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield were again able to channel those influences is unclear and irrelevant; the end result is what matters here, and the results speak for themselves on ‘Condition Human.’
Compilations of fluent time signature alternations and progressive structures are the focal point of immediate replay-worthy selections “Guardian” and the title track “Condition Human,” which reinforce a fierce breed of complex chord progressions, demanding melodies, and unwavering bass lines. La Torre demonstrates more of his expansive range throughout, as well; the decision to throw in a few Midnight-inspired maniacal laughs on “Selfish Lives” would seem inevitable, as would the soaring primal scream which highlights “The Aftermath.”
For all of it’s intense highlights, ‘Condition Human’ is not the consistently propelling heavy metal presentation that some were expecting from Queensryche’s sophomore installment with La Torre, in that the band does introduce a few abated moments into the mix. “Bulletproof” is a power ballad of grand proportions that has the potential to light up the active rock airwaves, whereas “Just Us” takes away most of the petroleum that fuels this corrosive 53 minute experience.
Expectations as to how Queensryche would memorialize their new found ascendancy varied among progressive metal advocates, yet the revived unit once again brought out a successful exhibition with ‘Condition Human.’