By Greg Fristick
The Verdict, the 15th studio album, and the third album featuring vocalist Todd La Torre, from progressive metallers, Queensrÿche, was released via Century Media Records on March 1, 2019. The Verdict is true to the classic Queensrÿche sound and is a must have for any die-hard fan. La Torre also recorded drums for the album due to the absence of long time Queensrÿche drummer, Scott Rockenfield. Rounding out the lineup on The Verdict are lifelong Queensrÿche members, bassist, Eddie Jackson, and lead guitarist, Michael Wilton, as well as rhythm guitarist Parker Lundgren, who has been a member since 2011’s Dedicated To Chaos.
Kicking off The Verdict with a tasty riff is “Blood of the Levant.” La Torre shines showing off his amazing vocal range. The song comes at you hard, then takes a step back during the solos and bridge, and then kicks you in the teeth all over again.
Next up is the first single from the album, “Man the Machine.” This song rips from the start. Bone crushing drums and pleasantly crafted melodic guitars. There are definitely memories of classic Queensrÿche here. Closing out the song are some mid tempo bass/guitar harmonies. That is how you write a solo.
Bass-driven “Light-years” is the next track on the album. This mid-tempo track has such an amazing groove. It has such an amazing hook. The solos fit perfectly with Eddie Jackson’s groovy bass lines. La Torre’s screams will send chills up and down your spine. This could easily become an earworm. It will make you want to bang your head.
“Inside Out” is a well written, mid tempo rocker. This song has a vibe from the Promised Land/Hear in the Now Frontier era. It is not quite as heavy, but still has that classic Queensrÿche sound.
No intro needed here. Literally. “Propaganda Fashion” kicks you in the teeth from the start. Correction. They shove it down your throat and spin you around. The song talks about the social cancers that we are succumbed to on a daily basis. A little call and response and some amazing vocal harmonies are present throughout this track. This one should have been a single.
Track 6 is the second single from The Verdict, is the dark, eerie ballad, “Dark Reverie.” The song has so much to offer including a classical guitar arrangement, soulful vocal harmonies, a string arrangement, amazing solos, and a HUGE hook. I can personally relate to this song on so many levels, which makes it a personal favorite.
Vocally speaking, “Bent” takes me back to early The Warning/Rage for Order era Queensrÿche. There is such a classic Rÿche vibe on this powerful track. It kicks off with some exquisite guitar/bass harmonies and then La Torre takes control and once again shows off his range with some of his most powerful vocals on the album.
Shredding riffs. Thunderous drums. Groove-laden bass. Powerful vocals. Shades of Empire. What else is there to say about “Inner Unrest”? I could go on and on about how amazing this track is. Ahhh…the spoken word bridge and hooks for days.
Next up is “Launder the Conscience.” Once again, this takes me back to Empire and maybe a hint of Operation:Mindcrime. However you look at it, this song has progressive metal written all over it from start to finish. Old school Queensrÿche at it’s finest.
Last, but definitely not least, is every bassist’s wet dream. Can I say that? Oh well. I just did! Slow, groovy bass and soulful vocals kick off closing track, “Portrait.” I am not usually a fan of ending an album with a mellow tune, but this is exactly where this one belongs. This track has me eagerly waiting what is next to come for this legendary band. Only time will tell.
One listen to this album will have any die heard Queensrÿche fan melting from non-stop eargasms. For the casual fan that enjoys Queensrÿche, but is not up to speed, yes they are still around and writing some of the best music of their illustrious career. The Verdict is available for streaming and is available from Century Media Records.
Queensrÿche will be touring throughout 2020.
I will personally be attending the Pittsburgh, PA, show on February 14th. In the meantime, you can find tour dates HERE
Blood of the Levant
Man the Machine
Launder the Conscience