As if both bands are still battling each other, Queensrÿche (QR) and former vocalist “Geoff Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime” release their album almost simultaneously. With the legal battle behind us both acts are now taking the battlefield to win over the hearts of their long time fans and enthusiasts of the band’s typical sound. A sound which remains intact on both releases but differs like day and night. The classic outfit hailed in powerhouse vocalist Todd LaTorre and leans strongly on the classic sophisticated metal sound which marked their first releases, as where the all-star cast around Tate focusses on the band’s later “Bridge” en “Q2K” era. That being said the albums offer enough pleasure for fans of both QR sounds… or don’t they?
“Having Todd in the band enables me to write the music I wanted to record after Operation: Mindcrime,” were Michael Wilton’s words when I interviewed him prior to him walking out on stage to set ablaze the Dutch Effenaar club on his first European stint with the reborn Queensrÿche. Reborn is the word for “Condition Hüman” as well since the band sounds more inspired and heavy as ever before. LaTorre’s power and presence create ground for Whip Wilton to lay down his heavy sound like in the good ol’ days.
Throughout this new album it becomes obvious that Queensrÿche once again are a force to be reckoned with in today’s metal. The songs breathe fire and spit away with un-withheld power creating the typical QR turmoil, without lacking the sophisticated feel of their “Rage for Order” days. Todd LaTorre adds his powerful howls and puts his personal mark on the band’s sound without estranging fans of the Tate era. He shifts shape as the album evolves and quite quirky adopts the present inspiration of Wilton’s thunder. The album is highly energetic and thriving landing us new classics by the dozen. The first single of of “Condition Hüman” is the high octane “Arrow of Time” which bursts into glory instantly. “Guardian” follows and reveals another strong focal point of the band’s impressive sound: the jaw dropping twin guitar leads from Wilton and Parker Lundgren. Both songs spread the progressive elements combined with the ear mingling melodies the band is known for. “Hellfire” is a perfect example of the new found panache which was also present on the previous album and the song nests in your head right away. The album combines the very best of the immaculate “The Warning” era with thrive and drive of high paced tracks on the band’s elusive milestone “Operation: Mindcrime.”
But it’s tracks such as “Bulletproof” that do light the spark of the bands heydays again. The song powerfully orchestrated and the chorus is big and powerful, while the guitar duo Wilton/Lundgren pull it forward with a fierce riff. Underneath all this musical ‘violence’ it is the rhythm section of Jackson and Rockenfield that adds the typical depth to the metal potion. Rockenfields three dimensional drumming sounds more infectious than ever before. It’s this drumming which uplifts the epic title track “Condition Hüman” to be inducted into the top ranks of metal being one of the best tunes the band has penned during their long spanning career.
The title track is perhaps even overshadowed by the riffing monster “Hourglass” which not only bares all trademarks of the classic Queensrÿche sound, it also oozes an impeccable timing and precision in the balance between the guitar outbursts of Wilton and Lundgren and the tremendous power brought to the plate by Rockenfield and Jackson.
When the pace goes down Queensrÿche delivers some exquisite moments in which the progressive power is casted aside to reveal a melancholic side matching the band’s characteristics. “Selfish Lives” is an extremely melodic mid-tempo rocker which grabs you instantly, while “Just Us” is an impressive semi ballad with acoustic guitars and polyrhythmic drum shuffles.
All-in-all this album takes off where the band left of at the predecessor… or better; it takes off right after “Operation: Mindcrime!”
This album is a must have for fans of the band’s first albums and it warps you back into the golden age of heavy metal in which Queensrÿche made the difference and outlined a new direction in music. “Condition Human” is compelling and jaw dropping brilliance.
I give it 92 out of 100