Early this moth, veteran hard rock outfit Queensryche debuted the music video for its latest single, ‘Portrait.’ The finale from the band’s 2019 album The Verdict, the song takes listeners back to Queensryche’s early days through its musical and lyrical content. While it is another strong representation of the band’s album, it is only one of the album’s most notable entries. ‘Inner Unrest,’ which comes late in the album’s 44-minute run time is just as important to the album’s presentation as any of the record’s other entries. ‘Light Years,’ which comes early in the album’s presentation, is another notable addition to the LP, and will be addressed a little later. ‘Propaganda Fashion’ also is worth examining in looking at the bigger picture of The Verdict. When it is considered along with the other noted works and the rest of the album’s compositions, the whole of the record proves to be another enjoyable offering from one of the rock realm’s most respect acts.
Queensryche’s most recent album The Verdict, the band’s 15th full-length studio recording – is another strong offering from the veteran band, which is in the midst of the latest leg of its tour in support of said album. The album boasts a variety of strong points throughout the course of its nearly 45-minute run time, not the least of which is ‘Inner Unrest,’ which comes late in the album’s run. The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Inner Unrest’ is a work that will take listeners back to the days of the band’s 1994 album Promised Land. That is evident through the combination of front man Todd LaTorre’s vocal delivery and the talents displayed by his band mates – guitarists Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren, drummer Scott Rockenfield and bassist Eddie Jackson. The group’s combined work makes the song a composition in whole that that is everything Queensryche fans have come to expect from the band throughout its decades-long life. The arrangement’s heavy, yet melancholy approach does an applause-worthy job of illustrating the song’s lyrical theme of someone dealing with PTSD.
The song’s lyrical content puts forward a strong message about mental health; more specifically PTSD. LaTorre sings in the song’s lead verse, “Hear the voices in your head/Do they speak of grand delusion/Moral truths to comprehend/The soul’s contusion/The scarred reunion/And you can dream/Can you feel me/Can you feel me.” The song’s subject seems to be asking someone in this verse, if that person realizes what is going on in that person’s mind or is that person wrapped up in his/her own self. LaTorre continues in the song’s second verse, “Colors change from black to red/I’ll never remember/Still you search for the meaning/Strange lies hypnotize me, you know/I’ll never surrenderAnd you still scream for madness/And you dream/Can you feel me/Can you feel me/Fantasy, dreaming/Can you feel me.” He continues in the song’s third and final verse, “There are many truths behind these eyes that you see/On one side love and laughter/The other darkened disbelief/Searching for the sunset clause in my relief/Sincerely Mr. Post-traumatic looking for some peace.” The song does a good job of illustrating what someone dealing with PTSD must go through daily, as is evidenced here. The song’s very lead verse paints a picture of a person fighting with so many thoughts both good and band. The mention in the song’s second verse of that person searching “for the meaning” and the “strange lies” hypnotizing that person, goes a long way to imagine the person fighting that inner battle, racking his or her brain in the process, virtually pulling his or her hair out of his/her head. That message, coupled with the powerfully engaging musical arrangement at the center of the song makes this work a unique presentation in itself and just one example of what makes The Verdict such a strong new offering from Queensryche. It is just one of the album’s most notable entries. ‘Light Years,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is another positive addition to the LP.
‘Light Years’ offers listeners a full-on prog-metal presentation in its musical arrangement that is grounded largely in the aforementioned dual guitar approach of Wilton and Lundgren. The pair’s collective work is as good as any heavy prog-metal opus that Dream Theatere guitarist John Petrucci has ever crafted with his band mates. Rockenfield’s work behind the kit here strengthens the song’s presentation even more with his solid time keeping. Jackson’s work on the bass is the cherry on top of this musical sundae, giving it that last needed touch. The combination of each musician’s line makes the whole of the song a work that is arguably one of this record’s strongest entries if not its absolute strongest. Of course the song’s musical arrangement is only a portion of what makes the song stand out. Its lyrical content adds even more to its impact.
LaTorre sings in the song’s lead verse, “Light-years and shadows/You’ll never see the end of day/Distant horizon/Far beyond the past you cannot save/Whispers/No silence/Echoing the sounds from far away/Sequenced pariahs/Following the footsteps to your grave/Pulling me down the undertow/It’s dragging me now/I’m paralyzed/Beyond the distance is out of reach/There’s no more I can take.’ This verse is repeated almost identically for a second time with only minimal change in the second verse. What LaTorre and company are trying to convey through this content is anyone’s guess. It comes across as perhaps the song’s subject addressing the issue of living in the present versus the past or even the future. This is inferred as LaTorre makes note of light-years and shadows never seeing “the end of day” and the distant horizon being “far beyond the past that you cannot save.” It is almost as if this is the song’s subject noting the past is gone and the future is too far ahead to be concerned about, so it is better to be in the present. This is entirely this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as gospel. As LaTorre sings in the song’s chorus, “Beyond the distance is out of reach/There’s no more I can take” seems to hint at this even more. The added note from the song’s subject that “There’s no more I can take” adds even more to the thought of someone who is struggling to decide which way to look. Once more, this is entirely this critic’s take on the song’s lyrical content. Regardless of right or wrong, this song’s lyrical content is certain to generate plenty of discussion, as is its musical content. Keeping all of that in mind, the song in whole proves itself to be another important addition to The Verdict. It is not the last of the album’s most notable entries. ‘Propaganda Fashion’ is worth examining just as much as the other songs noted here.
‘Propaganda Fashion’ is another work that takes listeners back to Queensryche’s heyday through its musical arrangement. From the dual-guitar attack to the solid time keeping to the low-end and vocals, every element of this song takes listeners back to the days of Hear in the Now Frontier with its driving, melodic rock arrangement. It is perhaps the album’s most radio ready song at least in regards to its musical arrangement. That catchy arrangement couples with the song’s sociopolitical commentary in its lyrical content to make the song in whole that much more engaging for listeners.
Jackson talked about the noted commentary in a recent interview, saying, “Lyrically it surrounds a political message used to persuade an audience, in order to make something appear more powerful, meaningful or real than it actually is.” That statement is illustrated as LaTorre sings in the song’s lead verse, “Lightning (charging with a vengeance)/Strikes you (spreading like fire)/Takes you down, down, down/Sell me what’s real/Become desensitized/Pushing their own point of view/Lies/Shoving it down, down your throat/Lies.” LaTorre continues in the song’s second verse, “System (no communication)/Broken (poisoned mother*******)/Spins you round, round, round/Media persuasion/Speeches and names/Paved by the ones with the crown.” He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Tonight your freedom dies/The scars to prove it/No reason or rhyme/The twisted web of lies/Just take your time and hurry up/You’re free to do what you’re told.” These are some pretty straight forward statements made through these verses and considering what is going on now across the political spectrum, they are fully relatable for listeners. Regardless of which side of the aisle one sits on, it applies on both sides. Keeping that in mind, it makes the song stand out that much more. When it is coupled with the song’s radio ready and accessible lyrical content, the song in whole stands out even more. When the song is considered along with the other works noted here and the rest of the album’s works, the record in whole shows that much more why it is such a strong new offering from one of rock’s most respected names.
As already noted, Queensryche is in the midst of the latest leg of its world tour in support of The Verdict. Audiences will get to hear all three of the songs noted here and others Sunday in Charlotte, NC and Wednesday in Huntsville, AL. The remaining dates on the band’s current live run are noted below.
More information on Queensryche’s tour is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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