So much has changed in the Queensryche camp over the past 20 years. In some ways the music has remained the same: dark, classic and ever evolving. In other ways the band has suffered some serious road scars that are still trying to heal. For those of us from the Northwest, weve watch Queensryche build from strength to strength. Weve seen them go from a raging club band with big hair and quintessential solos to a premier epic masterpiece both in sight and sound. Then weve seen them wonder, travel their own road of experimentation and yet always pushing the edge of the envelope. Sometimes we understood, sometimes not.
2003 has the band continuing to evolve. Returning to their role in the arena of hard rock, and with the amazing talents on loan from original guitarist Chris DeGarmo, the band release Tribe, their tenth record. Though four of the original five remain in the band its obvious vocalist Geoff Tate has assumed full control. His operatic voice - as powerful as ever, his lyrics - as sharp and poignant as ever. With songs like Blood, Losing Myself and The Great Divine they prove they are still the thinking mans band.
In a way Tribe is the do or die outing for the band. Lackluster sales from their past three recordings have seen the group make several radical changes. They changed record companies for the second time, released a 30-track live opus Live Evolution and have overseen the production and reissue of their entire EMI catolog. Yet, it is the songs on Tribe that make the record noteworthy. Reflecting a renewed vigor and vision, the CD kicks off with a classic Kashmir groove, DeGarmos guitar cutting in like a long lost friend. A step toward prog metal, the discs ten tracks spin with complex melodies, spiraling riffs and intriguing song structure.
Tate continues his passion for World causes as he writes lyrics about tolerance, compassion and the environment while the prospect of oblivion shadows every dark passageway. Desert Dance takes elements of Middle Eastern motifs and builds a metal rap chorus while both Falling Behind and The Art Of Life bring back the seduction of Empire with the pain of Mindcrime hidden in their multi-layers and may very well be the best tracks on the disc. As with all their records, Queensryche it best listened to with real focus. The subtle nuances are intensely powerful and could be easily missed among their melodic architecture, but they are worth finding.
Reissue: Queensryche, The Warning, Rage For Order, Operation Mindcrime, Empire
This year has been a big one for Queensryche. Not only has the Seattle-based quintet delivered a tremendous return to their hard rock roots in the form of Tribe but they also see their entire EMI/Capitol catalog remastered and reissued with bonus tracks, extensive liner notes, never before seen photos and memorabilia. We contacted David Tedds, the reissue producer, to get his take on the reconstruction of these amazing gems.
The Cutting Edge: Hello David, welcome. First off, how did you get involved doing the reissues?
David K Tedds: I had briefly worked for EMI-Capitol in their catalog reissue division. Got laid off but continued as a consultant. Produced Robin Trower "Bridge Of Sighs" and UFO "Strangers In The Night" reissues, Pat Benatar and Grand Funk box sets and then the entire Grand Funk catalog. I'd suggested several times to EMI that the Queensryche catalog was due for a major overhaul and that I, of course, was the guy to do it.
TCE: Looking over the booklets they are very well done with lots of cool memorabilia. Was it all yours?
Tedds: No, the only thing that was mine was the ticket stub for their first ever gig at The Country Club in Reseda, CA. (This is in the EP reissue on page 6 of the CD booklet.) I arranged to get one or two other things from collectors and EMI took care of the rest.
TCE: Obviously you are a big fan. Can you describe what it is about the band that you are drawn to and when they first got to you.
Tedds: I've been a major hard rock/metal fan from the late 60's on (God, I hate dating myself!) I first read about the band in that legendary initial review in Kerrang! magazine. (Which is mentioned in the CD booklet of the EP reissue.) The group sounded like a must to check out. I was managing a record store at the time and a lot of our clientele were metal fans so I ordered several copies of the EP while it was still being pressed on the bands own 206 Records, before they signed with EMI. (I still have two copies of this in my collection, one of them unopened.) After playing it in the store I was hooked. Really, I thought that they were incorporating the traditional elements of metal and taking that to another level. To me, this became really apparent on The Warning with tracks such as NM 156 and No Sanctuary.
TCE: What was involved with over seeing the reissues? Did you select the bonus tracks? Are there other songs out there that could be used at a later date?
Tedds: I made all the decisions as far as the audio is concerned; selecting the bonus tracks, sequencing them, locating the audio sources, overseeing the remastering process, etc. (The credit for the killer remastering itself has to go to Evren Goknar, one of Capitol's staff engineers and a guy who really knows his gig!) Yes, there's other unreleased material that will be used on a forthcoming rarities double CD.
TCE: What was/is your relationship with the band? How involved were they in this process?
Tedds: I mainly dealt with Geoff Tate. He made a couple of suggestions but 99% of this was up to me.
TCE: What is your favorite of the reissues? Which was the most fun for you to work on?
Tedds: I dig 'em all! Listening to the last two reissues ("Promised Land" and "Hear In The Now Frontier") was cool because I hadn't initially listened to them as closely as the others. It reinforced that there's some great material on what I feel are two generally overlooked albums.
TCE: The liner notes are very well done and do a good job describing the band's climb. Did you have input into those as well?
Tedds: Very minimal input. I made one or two corrections and suggested a few topics that I thought needed to be addressed in the liners.
TCE: The sound is brilliant. A superb job bringing out those little nuances in the music. How involved were you in the studio? Was they any difficulty working with the older tape?
Tedds: Again, I oversaw the process with Evren doing the actual remastering. We may have had to bake some of the tapes (which is pretty much standard at this point) but there was nothing wrong or out of the ordinary.
TCE: What do you think of "Tribe"?
Tedds: Haven't heard it yet! Geoff, send me a copy quick!!!
TRIBE LIVE 2003 REVIEW
Schnitzer Concert Hall
Our first show ever as a band was right here in Portland at the same place were playing tonight, the Shnitzer Hall, reminisces Eddie Jackson, bassist for tonights headliner Queensryche. In town to promote their tenth album in 18 years, Tribe the Seattle-based quintet seem relaxed and at ease with fame and fortune. Having built their career through years of endless touring opening for such luminaries as Van Halen, Aerosmith and Kiss, what set them apart was their progressive nature.
We wrote with a different style than other metal bands, says Jackson. Weve looked at thing different. We never fell into that rut of writing about sex, drugs and rock n roll well we did in a way we just wrote about the darker side. We wrote about the danger of sex, the addiction of drugs and the relevance of rock and roll as an art form. Much of that art form is the Queensryche live show. As theatrical as it is moving, the pacing of the show is structured for full impact and complete exhaustion.
As the lights fell, the twin guitar ring of Michael Wilton and Mike Stone echoed the Kashmir-like intro to Open as leather clad vocalist Geoff Tate stalked the stage, his clean-shaven dome beaming like a beacon. Immediate was the freshness of the line up and tightness of the quartet. Stone may not have the finesse of DeGarmo but certainly has the muscle. Highlights from Rage For Order and Promise Land packed the first 20 minutes with Screaming in Digital, I Am I, and Damaged. Empire was properly represented with an emotion-packed Empire, Jet City Woman, and Silent Lucidity.
It is a testament to the band how well their song have held up over the years and are right in fashion with the bands like Opeth and Porcupine Tree. Even when the intro video to I Remember Now hit the screens it all seemed to fit. Jacksons thunder bass and Rockenfields kick drum power-housed through the most action packed part of the night with Anarchy X, Revolution Calling, Speak, and Eyes of a Stranger. Take Hold Of The Flame closed the set temporarily before Real World from the 1993 Schwarzenegger Last Action Hero featuring Tate and Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie brought the crowd to their feet. Another duet, the Dream Theater classic The Spirit Carries On, followed and was an instant hit. But is was the Who cover, Wont Get Fooled Again that crowned the night.
Photos below by Todd K Smith ©2003