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This is going to be a really short review:

Stop reading my blog and go buy this album.

WOW.  All I can say is ...WOW!

WOW. All I can say is …WOW!

Seriously, it’s that amazing.

If you don’t love this album by the time you hit the fourth track, then go to your doctor and have your ears checked.

I thought Within Temptation had peaked with The Heart of Everything and the live Black Symphony Albums.  Turns out I was completely wrong.

I liked The Unforgiving, but felt that the story overtook the music.  Later on, I even went through the trouble to have a copy of the Q-Music sessions sent to the USA.  On that album they did a number of cover tunes, and you can hear how some of the music they covered has influenced their progression as a band in Hydra.

In this album there are a mix of different styles from metal, to rap-mix, to ballad and they all seem to work!  I suppose that is the reason for naming the album ‘Hydra’ – a mythical creature with many heads.  Four of the ten tracks are collaborations and each one brings a new twist to the Within Temptation sound.  I never thought I’d appreciate rap mixed in with my Symphonic Metal – but they pulled it off and it works great!

If you haven’t managed to obtain a copy of the Q-Music Sessions, then be sure to buy the deluxe version of Hydra (Link Above).  It contains four of the cover tunes from the Q-Music Sessions.

Hopefully, they will announce a tour of the United States sometime soon.

Now, if you will excuse me I’m going to post this hastily-written blog post and get back to rocking out to this frakin’ amazing album!

 

 

25 -years old and still the gold standard for Anti-Establishment thinking-man's metal!

25 -years old and still the gold standard for Anti-Establishment thinking-man’s metal!

Last week I attended the Queensryche concert in Denver at the Gothic Theater.  It was the Queensryche version with Geoff Tate but none of the other members of the band.  I went with an old buddy from High School who has actually played the same venue when he was the lead guitarist of a local Denver band.  We both thought that the show was pretty good (they played Operation Mindcrime end-to-end along with a few songs from Empire).  Operation: Mindcrime is my all-time favorite alum and hearing Tate sing it was pleasantly nostalgic.  My musician-buddy felt that the new lineup executed the album faithfully and we both agreed that we got our money’s worth from the show.

You may or may not know this, but there are now two Queensryche’s.  One has Geoff Tate but not the rest of the band (Queensryche 1.x), and the other (Queensryche 2.0) is fronted by a very Tate-sounding lead singer.  Queensryche 1.x released “Frequency Unknown” – one of the worst albums I’ve heard from any band, much less Queensryche.  Conversely, Queensryche 2.0 released “Queensryche” which is the best Queensryche Album since 1994’s Promised Land. (I’ve reviewed this album and expressed my disgust with Frequency Unknown here.)

As I stood listening to Operation: Mindcrime live I had a thought occur to me.  “This is good enough.”  As a matter of fact even if no original members of Queensryche were there I’d have been happy enough.

This next question might seem out-of-nowhere…but I will come back to Queensryche in a second.

Have you ever seen Trans-Siberian Orchestra live?

A few years ago my wife bought me tickets to TSO for my birthday – which is near the holidays.  We saw them in a massive arena venue and for the first half of the show (which is dominated by Religiosity) I was wondering “Why the hell am I here?” (After all, I’m an Atheist.)  Then the second half of the show was all instrumental and was one of the most fun-filled metal-eque performances I have ever seen!  Flames spewing out of the floor, lights, hair flying, electric guitar solos…It was awesome!  I went in barely knowing who TSO was, and I left a fan.

I did a little reading on TSO and discovered that there is not ONE Trans-Siberian Orchestra, there are MANY.  That is how they are able to play so many cities so near the holidays.  They have essentially cloned themselves.

Here it comes…

Queensryche should do the same.  The status quo of two Queensryche’s is not only sustainable, but might even be desirable for the fans.

What if being “Queensryche” didn’t refer to 5 individuals, but a set of artistic and musical guidelines.  Maybe it could be defined as: Guitar-driven, progressive metal, that makes you think.  Maybe there doesn’t need to be restrictions on future studio projects, but just a sharing of the past catalog of music.  When I was at the concert and looked around the Gothic Theater it appeared that everyone knew the words to every song.  None of them were there to hear something new…and a majority had T-shirts from tours gone by.  It was interesting to note that not a single song was played from Geoff Tate’s despicably bad album “Frequency Unknown”.

What if a state of two competing Queensryches was the new norm and they both competed to produce better product?

I’m perfectly content to see different people on stage than the people who produced a studio album, provided both are quality.

Time for confession, I like hair metal.  Can’t get enough of it and in my humble opinion one of the best and certainly most high-brow hair metal bands of all time is Queensryche.  Their album Operation: Mindcrime is by far my most favorite album of all-time.  It influenced my teens and twenties in a significant way (and apparently still does – I named the blog in honor of that album).

I’ve been listening to Queensryche since 1989. I have bought every album and every DVD they’ve ever made. I have seen them in concert at least 10 times. Then, after “Dedicated to Chaos” (or as I called that album ‘Phoning it In’) I decided to give up my hope for a post-Promised Land album that was worth listening to.

Apparently, there has been some recent drama in the band that led to the existence of two competing Queensryches.  One fronted by original singer Geoff Tate and the other (Which I’m referring to as Queensryche 2.0 for the purpose of clarity in this post) containing much of the original band – drummer Scott Rockenfeld, guitarist Michael Wilton, and bassist Eddie Jackson.  This new Queensryche (2.0) is fronted by singer Todd La Torre.

I sampled the new Geoff Tate QR album “Frequency Unknown” using a streaming service and it only served to reinforce my resolve to give up on my once favorite band.  Frequency Unknown or “FU” made “Dedicated to Mediocre” look like a work of art – it was gawd-awful.

Then late one night, I stumbled across a number of positive reviews for Queensryche (2.0)’s album titled “Queensryche”, and then sampled two tracks on YouTube…it was – dare I say- good!

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Even more positive reviews can be found here.

This is the best Queensryche album since Promised Land. This is the old Iron Maiden-esque Queensryche that you remember from the ’80s with a new twist (and vocalist Todd La Torre sounds just different enough from Tate to feel authentic, but not so different that the music is unrecognizable as Queensryche).

One of the online music reviews I read claimed that “this is the Queensryche album you have been waiting for” for over 20 years and another claimed that  “for the first time in over a decade Queensryche might be relevant again”…I couldn’t agree more.

The thumbnail viewer of Windows Media Player 1...

The thumbnail viewer of Windows Media Player 12 in Windows 7 Home Premium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UPDATE (6/16/2014):  Since this post gets a lot of hits I feel the need to do a brief update.  I do not think that the technique here works any longer with the newer versions of Android OS and Google Music player.  I abandoned using Android out of frustration with this process once my phone updated to Ice Cream Sandwich.  (Windows Phone does sync natively with Windows Media Player – FYI).  If you are using a version of Android (2.x or 3.x) this process may still work. 

 

I dislike loading extra software onto my PC or phone.  I’m always worried that whatever is being installed will clutter up my otherwise clean OS and create conflicts and performance issues.

Therefore, I use Windows Media Player to organize my music collection and prefer to use the stock music player on my Android phone.  Unfortunately, WMP does not transfer playlists to the Android music player when it syncs the music files.

After much research and experimentation I finally discovered that it is possible to simply cut and paste a native .wpl (Windows Media) playlist into the Android “Music” folder and the Play Music app will see it and play it.  No additional software required.

Google Play Music

This is a nice discovery considering that Windows Media Center is my preferred home entertainment platform.  Thus, you can make a playlist conveniently on your PC, use the same list on your Xbox360 for the home and have that playlist work on your Android phone.