The trials and tribulations of Queensrÿche are well documented: the separation from their original front man Geoff Tate and subsequent battle over the name of the band. In 2013, when Queensrÿche released their debut album with new vocalist Todd La Torre, it was incredibly well received by fans of the group. The album was everything they hoped for and more. It was a return to the style of Queensrÿche of old, which was a Queensrÿche we had not heard much in the last 25 years. “Queensryche” was a pleasant surprise, as I did not expect the band could still crank out high quality tunes like ‘Redemption,’ ‘Fallout,’ and ‘Open Road,’ which reminded me of the glorious moments of the past. Because of this, my expectations for its successor were particularly high, considering that there would be less pressure on the creative process, and greater compositional flexibility.
Queensrÿche picks up exactly where they left off two years earlier, this time with batch of songs that do not sound like they had been collecting dust in Michael Wilton and Scott Rockenfield’s closets, and fuller, more well-rounded production quality. ‘Arrow of Time’ immediately jumps in with some high-pitched vocals and harmonized guitars, giving it a nice 80s feel. Ditto for ‘Guardian,’ with its knitted riffs and moving bridge.
Queensrÿche is at cruising speed on most of the album, sitting somewhere between efficiency, sophistication, and sometimes a sense of urgency. La Torre’s voice sounds better than ever, even if he does remind us of his predecessor. Then again, is that not what he is there for? There is even a little bit of mimicry of some older ‘Ryche songs. It is easy to pick out the parts in ‘All There Was,’ interlude ‘The Aftermath,’ and the title track, that all feel like a mini “Operation: Mindcrime.” Although, if they are going to rip off anybody’s music, it might as well be their own. However, it is with ‘Toxic Remedy,’ ‘Eye9, ’and ‘Hourglass’ where we hear a semblance of newness over the previous tracks, giving some idea of what the future of the band may be.
“Condition Hüman” is a more developed album than the self-titled album. Because we live, in many ways, in a time more nostalgic than daring, Queensrÿche may be labeled retro or even dated. The thing is, they have an undeniable talent for composition. It is time for the band to start exploring more open territory. Maybe through this renewed energy, they can return to the experimentation and innovation of the heyday of Queensrÿche.