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In the ethos of rock history there will always be that line drawn in the sand that some fans refuse to cross. Purists that refuse to accept that the band they grew up will never be the same without its original founding members and those that simply welcome their evolution into something greater. I fall into the latter.

Queensrÿche has always been one of those bands marked with a history as glorious as it is turbulent. With those countless radio hits and their eponymous album, Operation: Mindcrime in their back catalog, they could have very easily continued as a shell of their former selves; releasing album after album of Greatest Hits and Live recordings while living quite comfortably. Yet, in this post-Tate world, the band surprisingly continues to persevere because of their history, not in spite of it. 

The Verdict, Queensrÿche’s 16th studio album (not counting former vocalist, Geoff Tate’s controversial, Frequency Unknown) and third with glass-shattering vocalist, Todd La Torre at the forefront, is a solid addition to the canon and perhaps their heaviest outing in decades.

Unlike most of Queensrÿche’s previous works, there is no gradual ascent to the summit on the opening track. This album immediately threatens to pull your head back and send it straight into your steering wheel right from the get-go. "Blood of the Levant", the album’s opener, is a full-throttle, groove-laden song that lays a powerful foundation for what’s to come. 

The Verdict plays like a glorious soundtrack to a movie never made. It tosses you through turbulent storms and highway chases at full speed that cause you to fear for the hero at times and raise your fists in the air and cheer them on during others. 

In tradition with the band’s past, it is not without its epic ballads. "Dark Reverie" is a tortured opus that stands well on it’s own and adds a nice break in the barrage of riffs that came before, with solid and revealing vocal performance by La Torre.

Besides the album’s modern production & thicker guitar driven sound, thanks in-part to master mixer & producer, Chris “Zeuss” Harris (Rob Zombie, Hatebreed, Shadows Fall) the most obvious stand out on The Verdict are Todd La Torre’s multiple contributions. The band has chosen to embrace his aggressive musical influences, all-the-while not sacrificing the catchy hooks, uplifting choruses and classic melodies that made Queensrÿche a household name. A fierce beast of a vocalist by his own right, La Torre has finally come into his own and learned how to nail you to the wall with his explosive, Halford-esque falsetto when it matters most and even lending his impressive drumming skills in the absence of original drummer, Scott Rockenfield, to the album. 

With solid compositions, heart-wrenching solos, and just downright amazing songwriting, both longtime fans and newcomers to the fold will find The Verdict is a welcome addition to an already timeless catalog of incredible albums from one of Progressive Rock’s greatest treasures.


As always, rock on my friends!     Hunnypot Approved!     Overall Rating:  9.3 out of 10

Artist:  Queensrÿche,  Album: The Verdict,   Release Date: March 1st, 2019,  LabelCentury Media

Raul Soria Jr.

Photojournalist - Portland

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