If you’re like me, and started listening to Queensrÿche back in ’85, you probably would have never thought the band would be where they are today. Like Deep Purple, they’ve gone through a few different versions of the band. Of course Mark I would be the classic lineup with Chris DeGarmo that was together from the EP in 1983 through Hear in the Now Frontier. The troublesome post DeGarmo lineup being Mark II, which gave us such albums as Q2K (that I actually enjoyed) and the nevershould’vehappened Operation: Mindcrime II (I don’t care if RJD is on it, that doesn’t make it any better). Now, the post Tate version of the band, Mark III, has released their third album, The Verdict, and it gives us yet another chapter in the Queensrÿche legacy.
The album starts off with a screamer in ‘Blood of the Levant’. Vocalist Todd La Torre lets us know early that the ‘Ryche aren’t messing around with some heavy and high belts on the track. ‘Man the Machine’ continues not only the power vocals, but an up tempo song. This is something Mark III has steadily added more of with each release, and something you’ll hear is a trend on The Verdict. The next couple tracks may temporarily dial down the temp, but not the intensity, something else brought back by Mark III. On ‘Light Years’, Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren lay down a sweet double lead over the chugging bass line of the Michael Anthony of metal, bassist Eddie Jackson, who’s often overlooked backing vocals are on full display in many tracks on The Verdict.
Speaking of overlooked, something I have to mention is the absence of founding drummer Scott Rockenfield. As troubling as this is, you would never know he wasn’t there when listening to The Verdict, as La Torre took over duties behind the kit and does a fantastic job! Another thing that is fantastic about the album is the sound. Produced and mixed by Chris “Zeuss” Harris (Hatebreed, Rob Zombie), who also took care of 2015’s Condition Human, The Verdict is consistently balanced from an audio perspective, which is exactly what the songs need to flow from one to another.
The Verdict is the most “Queensrÿchey” record Queensrÿche has released in a long, long time. Between La Torre’s vocals (and drums), Wilton and Lundgren’s guitar work, and the semi-throwback song writing along with Zuess’s production, the band is in a rare place where old is new again and everything works. So, if you’re like me, and started listening to Queensrÿche back in ’85, you should be pretty happy listening to The Verdict, because they haven’t sounded this good in a long, long time.