2. I am I
4. Out of mind
6. Promised land
8. Lady Jane
9. My global mind
10. One more time
11. Someone else?
'Promised land' was written and recorded at the band's home studios and in an isolated log cabin in the San Juan Islands (off the coast of Washington state)
Production: by Queensryche and James 'Jimbo' Barton
Formats: clear vinyl LP, cassette, CD
After making two watershed albums back-to-back, many bands will offer the cliche that their next effort combines the best parts of its predecessors. Such claims could surely be justified with Queenstyche's fifth album - an effort which features several tunes that could have graced either 1988's 'Operation:Mindcrime' or 1990's 'Empire', while other numbers delve still further back, to 1986's 'Rage for order'. The only problem with 'Promised land' is that aren't enough of them!
Yeah, like 'Empire', '...land' takes some digesting. An initial spin had caused doubts. Only three or four tunes hit the spot, the rest were either tortuously laid-backor vacuously high-brow. Certainly there was nothing as vibrant or instant as a 'Revolution calling' or 'Jet city woman'. And what were half the songs about? Rows with elderly relatives... middle-aged angst... analysing their childhoods? Had Queensryche gone bonkers?!
Thankfully, it all slots into place - if you work at it.
'9.28am' is a brief scene-setting intro, which I initially suspected was a human being on a life-support machine, 'though you soon realise it's the birth of a human baby. Then, like some new-born infant, we're plunged headfirst into 'I am I', with it's weightless, carefully sculpteredpower chords and bold Eastern flavour. Next up, 'Damaged' is far heavier, a tune that would have suited the cloak and daggertheatrics of '...Mindcrime '. 'Mother Mary in control/Domineering stranglehold' intones Geoff mysteriously, over a throbbing mid-paced riff.
'Out of mind' is the first of several understated , self-examinatory pieces. It relates the tale of two characters - one naive and young, another ancient and bitter - and is topped by a guitar solo which is as delicate and touching as a baby's kiss. Likewise, 'Bridge', which concerns an attempt by guitarist Chris DeGarmo's father to forge a reconciliation with his son. Tate's mournful vocal conveys the mood perfectly.
But the seven-minute title track makes you think that Queensryche have completely lost it! Wind chimes mingle with discordant guitars, shimmering keys and what sounds like disturbingly like distant saxophones as Tate issues his tortured wails of 'Where did I go wrong?' over a tortoise-slow beat. If it's meant to sound mysterious, it only comes over as clumsy. The sinister 'Disconnected' is only marginally more appetising - and it's certainly the nearest the 'Ryche will ever get to penning a bump-n-grind riff!
Back from the asylum, the haunting 'Lady Jane' benefits from a solemn Beatles-esque keyboard intro, before settling doen in it's melancholy, medium-paced groove. Another of DeGarmo's spectacular guitar solos just about carries it, drowning out the memory of those horrible violins!
Just as patience is waning, 'My global mind' and 'One more time' sprint to the finish line. The former examines the glut of TV news now available at our fingertips, while the latter, like opener 'I am I', would have suited their 'Rage for order' master-piece, complete with its regal guitar signature and Tate's helium tinged hollering.
After all the anguish, 'Someone else?' offers hope - despite its bleak voal/piano arrangement. A suitably cerebral swan song to an LP from a band who try to set their sights above the mundane.
It's a grower, then. But surely, in these technology-assisted days of digital-dom, Queensryche could have drummed up more than 48 minutes of music after four years away? Dream Theatre's new 'Awake' opus contains over 75 minutes, and would have featured even more if the CD could have accomodated it! You've got competition now, lads!