Album of the Week 42-2015: Queensrÿche – Condition Hüman

After what can be only considered one of the most embarrassing soap operas in Heavy Metal history and a surprisingly concise legal battle, Seattle’s Queensrÿche moved on without their legendary singer Geoff Tate. For any band, this would be a disaster, but for remaining original members Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield, it meant they could finally go back to the progressive Metal sound they’ve helped pioneer. ‘Condition Hüman’ is in fact more Metal as a whole than their first, self-titled outing without Tate and turned out to be one of the most enjoyable releases the genre has offered in 2015 so far.

Essential to Queensrÿche’s renewed Progmetal sound is new singer Todd LaTorre, who sounds a lot like Tate. He’s slightly rougher around he edges, but he sounds more like Tate in his prime than Tate himself does these days. Besides his powerful wails and wide range, the guitars of Michael Wilton and relative newcomer Parker Lundgren feel familiar. The more contemporary production keeps ‘Condition Hüman’ from being a complete reproduction of their early sound, but the album has all the US Power Metal riffs, melodic themes and twin guitar harmonies and old school Metalhead can wish for.

This approach gives ‘Condition Hüman’ a significantly more Metal feel than the first release of this lineup. The album is most certainly more riff driven than anything Queensrÿche has done in the past two decades and that results in a couple of fantastic uptempo Metal songs. ‘Arrow Of Time’, ‘Guardian’, ‘Toxic Remedy’ and album highlight ‘All There Was’ all highlight the US Power Metal sound of albums like ‘The Warning’ – the latter is very reminiscent of the amazing ‘En Force’ – rather than the Progmetal sound they’re famous for, despite some distinctly progressive touches in especially their timing and the unpredictable song structures.

For fans of the more progressive Queensrÿche, however, the second half of the album offers quite a few treats. The kaleidoscopic 8 minute title track is a no-brainer, but ‘Hourglass’ is likely even better. Clean, distorted and acoustic guitars alternate in sections of shifting atmospheres and LaTorre is in top shape here. Bassist Eddie Jackson’s progressive stomper ‘Eye9’ is no slouch either. ‘Bulletproof’ is a fantastic power ballad and while ‘Selfish Lives’ and ‘Hellfire’ are somewhat more subdued in terms of tempo, they’re still soaring Heavy Metal tracks with some great guitar and vocal work. Scott Rockenfield’s drums are finally at full force again as well.

Some of the statements that Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield made during the trials for the Queensrÿche name sounded too absurd to be true, but listen to ‘Condition Hüman’ one time and you’ll find out they probably were. Queensrÿche finally sounds like Queensrÿche again and as a result, ‘Condition Hüman’ is the finest record they’ve released since ‘Operation: Mindcrime’. And I’m pretty fond of ‘Promised Land’, so it says something that I like this one better. But even without the troubled recent history in the back of your mind, ‘Condition Hüman’ is a good album. How good? One of the best Metal albums of 2015: that good.

Recommended tracks: ‘All There Was’, ‘Toxic Remedy’, ‘Hourglass’, ‘Arrow Of Time’

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