Before gushing out praise to Queensrÿche for having come up with their best album — hands down — since Empire, it is worth noting that it is the second time that Queensrÿche and their former frontman Geoff Tate‘s new band, the latter may it be known formerly as Queensrÿche or now as Operation: Mindcrime, have released new albums within a few months of each other. The results are polarizing in terms of that head to head: Queensrÿche = 2 and Tate = 0. Clearly, Queensrÿche have left Tate behind in their rearview mirror in terms of delivering the old school Queensrÿche sound that fans have been hoping for in what amounts to a few decades.
I know that for many, Queensrÿche‘s self-titled album with new lead singer Todd La Torre, which was released back in mid-2013, was already that return to form for the band but I never really got into that album despite purchasing it and listening to it multiple times. Queensrÿche‘s Condition Hüman is that return to form. It is that album that shows once and for all that guitarist Michael Wilton is the remaining creative genius behind Queensrÿche‘s glory era, i.e. 1988’s Operation: Mindcrime and 1990’s Empire. It is no secret that Chris DeGarmo is widely credited as the real architect behind Queensrÿche‘s most critically acclaimed and popular albums but now the rest of his bandmates (and in particular Wilton) from that era minus Tate can also receive their just due. I’ll always remain a big fan of Tate‘s voice but his propensity for experimentation is what most likely led Queensrÿche astray for the last two decades.
Simply put, Condition Hüman is a very strong record and a return to form for Queensrÿche. It is so good that the Seattle rockers’ new album can legitimately placed into the mix as Queensrÿche‘s greatest album ever. I still think that Operation: Mindcrime and Empire are better records but to even be able to come close to those great releases with Condition Hüman speaks volumes on what a great job that the La Torre led Queensrÿche version have done in getting back to the traditional Queensrÿche sound that — let’s face it — the great majority of their fans have been wanting to hear.
Condition Hüman starts off with a bang with two standout tracks — “Arrow Of Time” and “Guardian” — that are heavy while still melodic and where La Torre‘s vocal range simply shines. Ironically, La Torre sounds like Tate did during those great Queensrÿche records from now almost three decades ago. The music with the guitars and melodies on those first two tracks also takes me back to Queensrÿche‘s glory days. Other standout tracks include the gorgeous ballad “Bulletproof” (likely the group’s best ballad since “Silent Lucidity”), the haunting and vintage sounding “Toxic Remedy” and the faster paced “All There Was.” Although I clearly really like Condition Hüman, there is one track that could have easily been left off the record. The almost a minute long “The Aftermath” seems pointless and some sort of showcase for La Torre‘s vocals but without any real overall song melody to speak of.
Five years ago, Ratt proved with Infestation that they could revisit their glory days and deliver a record that would have likely garnered them multi-platinum success had it been released back in the late ’80s. It is now Queensrÿche‘s turn to deliver an album that revisits their pinnacle era and would have likely brought them multi-platinum success back in the late ’80s / early ’90s. It seems unlikely that Condition Hüman will be able to reach the coveted multi-platinum level in this musical climate of downloading and file sharing but one thing is for certain, Queensrÿche have delivered one of their best albums in their storied musical career with Condition Hüman.
01. Arrow Of Time
04. Toxic Remedy
05. Selfish Lives
09. Just Us
10. All There Was
11. The Aftermath
12. Condition Hüman
Todd La Torre – lead vocals
Michael Wilton – guitar
Eddie Jackson – bass, vocals
Scott Rockenfield – drums
Parker Lundgren – guitar
Produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Zeuss
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, October 2015