My introduction to Queensrÿche was Operation: Mindcrime, a stellar progressive metal album, and an amazing experience. Following the creation of that album, in 1988, the band went on to write significantly more accessible music, and even had some success in the 1990s. When delving into The Verdict, I was quite happy to find that this album went back to their heavy and progressive roots, giving it some similarities to the band’s previous output.
Interestingly, while listening to The Verdict, I noticed that it has a significant number of odd time signatures – possibly more than many of their previous albums. This does a lot to make some songs stand out from one another. Most tracks from the album felt as though they worked perfectly with their complexity, and the time signature used for each song blended seamlessly with what the band set out to accomplish.
The album begins with two heavy-hitting tracks, the first being Blood of the Levant, which kicks off with a catchy and unique riff. The continuous, driving guitar and bass, not to mention the almost laid-back drums, give the song a unique feel in an album where many songs have similar rhythms. Not getting any calmer, Man the Machine brings more heavy songwriting, although it is a bit less memorable than the previous track.
I found the strongest point of the album to be Light-years, the third track, which has a stellar flow and is quite well structured. Featuring a catchy but intriguing chorus and great instrumentals, the song feels natural and fits with those around it well. The somewhat syncopated guitar and bass riff featured during the verse, in particular, provides the song with a much different style than the rest of the tracks.
The one main flaw I find in this album is that some tracks are not particularly memorable because aspects of their sounds are similar. The scales and styles of riffs used tend to feel a bit repetitive throughout, although the band makes up for this lack of variety in some other ways, such as changing up the time signature used, it can still be noticeable. This is not a major issue, but something that did stand out.
As Queensrÿche has done for years, The Verdict featured tracks with calmer, acoustic portions combined with melodic singing. For the most part, the calmer portions of the album worked well, with Dark Reverie standing out among the laid-back tracks. This song builds throughout and is a relatively complex and dynamic song.
Ultimately, The Verdict is a good album and is certainly worth checking out. It is surprisingly complex and delivers some unique ideas. As mentioned, my main gripe with the album is that it seems the overarching style comes close to making the songs too similar to each other. Still, The Verdict is not a bad album in the slightest, and proves that Queensrÿche can still release solid material to this day.
01. Blood of the Levant (3:27)
02. Man the Machine (3:50)
03. Light-years (4:08)
04. Inside Out (4:31)
05. Propaganda Fashion (3:36)
06. Dark Reverie (4:23)
07. Bent (5:58)
08. Inner Unrest (3:50)
09. Launder the Conscience (5:15)
10. Portrait (5:16)
Total Time – 44:18
Todd La Torre – Lead Vocals, Drums
Michael Wilton – Lead Guitar
Parker Lundgren – Rhythm Guitar
Eddie Jackson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Century Media
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 1st March 2019