|Queensryche - Tribe|
|Music Disc Reviews DualDisc|
|Written by Jeff Fish|
|Monday, 23 May 2005|
Taken from the liner notes of Tribe: “The chain around the neck of humanity is our tendency to pass judgment on others.” Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing the concert DVD The Art of Live by Queensryche. They were touring in support of their latest album release, Tribe, which is positively awesome DVD. In fact, I still watch it when I need a pick me up. This latest release by Queensryche is a dual-sided gem. While Tribe may not be a brand-new release, it does have its differences from the CD that was released in July of 2003. This release is a DualDisc CD/DVD-A. One side will play on any regular CD player (for the most part; more on that later) and the other is a DVD-A mix of the same album in Dolby Digital 5.1. I personally wish I had heard the CD prior to my last review, just so I would be more familiar with the tunes on the previously mentioned live DVD.
Queensryche is one of the best hard rock bands in the world and has been for going on 15 years now. Their playing and vision is worlds apart from most of the drudgery that comes across our radio airwaves. But with this release, they’ve elevated even their own lofty standards. This album harkens back to the days of Operation Mindcrime with its intensity, passion and vision. On this release, Chris DeGarmo is back in the studio with the band for the first time in six years. To be quite honest, I’m not sure if he’s still in the band or not (at least for touring purposes), but that really doesn’t matter for this release because he’s on it and sounding as good as ever. In fact, the whole band sounds as good as they ever have. The passion and intensity just ooze out of the speakers, especially in the 5.1 mix. I really can’t wait for the day when everything will be in 5.1, but I digress.
Tribe deals with Geoff Tate’s search to find America after 9/11; in the process, he finds himself. These songs have a personal feel to them, as if this was the first time in a long time that things really mattered. Maybe I’m reading too much into the lyrics, but the passion on this release is something to behold. Queensryche has also always been a musicians’ band as well, but not to the point where if you’re not a musician, you can’t get into the music. This inclusiveness is something I think they do better than most bands of this ilk. Dream Theater and King Crimson are two bands that I can think of that have similar qualities in songwriting and musicianship, but where Queensryche shines above them is in approach to melody and hooks. It’s not that Dream Theater and King Crimson don’t have melodies and hooks, because they do; it’s just that Queensryche’s music tends to be a little more accessible. You don’t need to know the circle of fifths to be able to get into their music. This album screams with raw emotion and I don’t believe Tate’s voice has ever sounded better.
The album starts off with “Open,” a chugging rocker with a line in the chorus “Open your eyes,” which gives you a sense of where the album is going. Lyrically, this is an incredibly strong album with Tate exploring the divide, as well as the similarities, throughout America. My personal favorites on the album are “Open,” “Desert Dance,” “The Great Divide,” “Rhythm of Hope” and “Tribe.” “Rhythm of Hope” sounds like it almost belongs on Empire, the long-lost cousin to Silent Lucidity. This is the type of album that gives me hope for rock ‘n’ roll; it has positively awesome musicianship with some of the best lyrics I’ve heard in quite some time. Why haven’t I heard any of this on MTV or VH1? Oh well, that is a topic for another article. The flow of this record is really nice as well, ending on the positive note of “Doing Fine.”
My only complaint with this release is that the CD side doesn’t want to play on every CD player periodically, but not all the time. I listened to both sides of this release on my home system, no problem (with the 5.1 mix sounding incredible). Then I listened to the CD side in my car; again, no problem. Then I listened to the CD once on my boom box. But I could only listen to it once on my boom box – after that, it wouldn’t even recognize the disc. I find this to be very annoying, since I’m not always going to be able to listen through topnotch gear. In fact, I’ve had this problem with both dual-sided discs that I’m reviewing this month (The Grateful Dead – American Beauty being the other). This may simply be a problem with my boom box, but since every other disc I have plays in it just fine, I think it may be something other than that. That may be an issue for the manufacturers of dual-sided discs to look at, since the idea of a release like this makes so much sense.
All that said, I still really like this album. The mix on the 5.1 surround is really well done; you get the idea that you are listening to something more than the ordinary here. This is an album with a story. I wouldn’t call it a concept album per se, but the flow of it is really nice. In the bonus section of the DVD-A, there is a live video for “Desert Dance,” and if you own The Art of Live and wondered what the lighting looked like (since that album was all done in sepia tones), you’ll get an idea what their stage presentation was like with this video. If you’re a fan of hard rock or the progressive genre at all, you need this release. This is a really well done piece of art, definitely worth owning.