Review : Queensryche - Dedicated to Chaos
SputnikmusicQueensryche used to be a band that took chances and succeeded. They seemed to approach each album with an ‘anything is possible’ attitude that came across in their songs and it eventually resulted in the band achieving worldwide success on their own terms. Unfortunately, that fame seemed to temper their ambitions and they started to play things a bit too safe. They started to ignore what had always worked for them in an effort to sound ‘current’ and trendy, and when that didn’t work they just started going through the motions instead. Their willingness to make each album different was still apparent with every release, but they seemed scared to do too much; as if they were trying to maintain what little fan base they had left. This inability to step outside of some very limiting confines caused each subsequent album to sound as though the band’s heart just wasn’t into the music or that they had simply lost touch with the youthful exuberance that guided past albums. Then a weird thing happened… they released American Soldier and it was good. It certainly wasn’t on par with their early albums, but it destroyed everything post-1994. It was definitely enough to give the more optimistic fans a reason to hope for the band’s future. That was back in 2009, though, and this is now…
Fans of the band know that, for better or worse, Queensryche have never created the same album twice. That means that there was always a chance that everything that worked on American Soldier had the potential to be discarded in favor of a totally different direction, and that is what happened. This fact alone isn’t enough to assume that Dedicated to Chaos is a failure though, because the band always used to work that way with surprisingly good results. No – calling Dedicated to Chaos a failure because it isn’t like their older albums is giving it far too much credit and may lead some to assume that it might be good on its own merits when it’s not. Dedicated to Chaos is a failure because it is a mess of tepid riffs, lackluster vocals and experimentation that runs the gamut from pedestrian to outright terrible. The band decided that they were going to (once again) take a shot at making an album that is current and ‘in the now’, only this time they’ve dropped the grunge in favor of integrating modern pop aesthetics into their tired rock formula and it turned out as horrendous as it sounds.
It should be noted that the album’s main problem isn’t specifically the dance-pop, though; it’s more the indirect influence that has caused the problem. In all honesty, the dance pop influence can almost entirely be limited to a few sound effects and an increased emphasis on groovy rhythms, and those aspects aren’t too bad. The problem is that, indirectly, it has caused the band to simplify their music and approach each song with a swagger that feels forced and cheesy. No one is guiltier of this than the band’s vocalist, Geoff ‘I Hate Metal’ Tate. This is the man that used to deliver thought-provoking lyrics and choruses that hooked a listener without resorting to simple repetition, but he’s doing the exact opposite here. His lyrics consist almost entirely of flat witticisms, false bravado and lines that attempt to prove that he is edgy and up-to-date on what all the cool kids are doing. The problem is that dropping buzzwords such as ‘world wide web’, ‘Youtube’, and ‘apps’ isn’t enough to convince anyone that you’ve done more than read the technology section of CNN, and misspelling song titles while referring to yourself as a ‘hotspot junkie’ certainly doesn’t imply being on the cutting edge. On the same token, there comes a point when writing songs of lust and sex lose their appeal and land squarely in the uncomfortably creepy category, and like the old guy at the college bar, that’s exactly where songs like “Got it Bad”, “Luvnu” (are you fucking serious?) and “Wot We Do” land....full text
ThegoldenbirdFor long time fans of Queensrÿche, this album is likely one to steer clear from. Dedicated to Chaos is hardly metal. In fact, it is on a similar tier with the band’s earlier release, Empire. It has more of an alternative rock feel than anything. Even the progressive element of the band is almost completely unnoticeable. There are highly accessible rock tunes along with the odd ballad (“Broken”). It is a definitive step towards the more popular side of music.
As mentioned earlier, the heaviness level of Dedicated to Chaos is on par with Queensrÿche’s Empire. However, the same unfortunately cannot be said for the quality. The reason is not the mere genre or style of the music. Many, including myself, have much appreciation for the wonderful piece of art that is Empire and are only respectful of its rock persona. With Dedication to Chaos, all of the magic that made the band’s music so special is absent. In fact, much of what was put into the record actually made it worse! The most obviously excruciating aspect is its shallow, shoddy lyrics. The record opens with “Get Started,” a song that dwells on the typical ‘world is your oyster’ type theme. It itches uncomfortably enough when Iron Maiden does it, but this is just bad. The next track, “Hot Spot Junkie,” comes with blundering chants of ‘youtube’ and boy does it ever sound god-awful. My hope that it these shenanigans were done with at this point was unfulfilled. “Got it Bad” comes with the even more repetitive and cringing chants of ‘sunglasses’. There is no way this is the same band that made the musical masterwork known as Operation: Mindcrime. But honestly, it was wrong to have my expectations at a high when the tracklist included titles such as “Luvnu” and “Big Noize (bonus)” – failure is clearly inevitable.
In Dedicated to Chaos, the music portion itself is also at an all-time low for the band. The effort is consistently poor, though there are disguised elements of intelligence. However, encountering them is comparable to finding Waldo. There is surprisingly a decent amount of diversity with the release, but most of it is written to the bare minimum, following the standardized form of verse-chorus-bridge. And the music itself is never outstanding enough to warrant the amount of time they occupy. Even with the shorter, less-than-four-minutes songs, they tend to drag. The guitar riffs are extremely mundane (especially the rhythm of “Hot Spot Junkie”) and the vocals are only average. But with Queensrÿche, the vocals have formerly been known to decide the difference between a good and bad album; here, the vocals are not good. The drums give some neat rhythms and the basslines are groovy at times, but there is not enough with them to salvage any greatness with Dedicated to Chaos. The piano parts are nice too. But again, this album is much too empty for any enjoyment to be embraced by an audience....full text
ArthatesyouAfter the band released their “American Solider” album back in 2009, the guys in the long time prog-rock juggernaut Queensryche pulled probably the biggest swerve yet by doing a “cabaret” style show, with burlesque dancers and alternate takes on the band’s hits and other material. So, it’s not a big surprise to see Queensryche move away from the politically based prog-rock with their eleventh album, “Dedicated To Chaos” into a diverse and much differently paced album for the band.
The time doing the “cabaret” style show has thrown many new elements for the band, including moments of jazz, swing and blues mixing with the rock. With songs like “Wot We Do” and a sax solo and other jazz elements on “Higher”, it feels as if the band is purposefully moving away from the epic prog-rock the band was putting forth in the “Operation Mindcrime”/”Empire” days. Probably the best example of the new take on the band is in the track “Wot We Do”, which is custom made for that smoky lounge vibe, and not fist pumping, thought provoking arena rock. The first half of the album stays very true to the band’s new vision and to old school Queensryche, it takes a little bit getting used to. It’s a noble effort to go in that direction, but it didn’t really do anything for this reviewer.
”Chaos” is almost two albums in one; where the first half delves more into the different elements the band has been exploring for the past few years, the second half is far in the usual Queensryche sonic landscape. Songs like “Drive” and “Retail Therapy” sound a bit more like the Queensryche of old. With those songs and others on the second half, it lacks the passion of the bands more political leaning work and doesn’t fall flat, but also doesn’t measure up to classic material....full text
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