Queensryche: American Soldier

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Scott Gardener
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Queensryche: American Soldier

Post by Scott Gardener » Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:09 pm

Us long-timers remember Queensryche from the late eighties with Operation: Mindcrime, a heavy metal conceptual album and rock opera that makes Pink Floyd's The Wall look like a measly yutz wallowing in self-pitty by comparison. Mindcrime is a headbanger's Citizen Kane, a masterpiece that delivers. The sound is hard mixed with emotional, and the ballad portions are well-amplified and befitting heavy metal, not the mellow acoustics that watered down the genre throughout the nineties. The story is harsh and unrelenting as we follow a street assassin for an underground revolution, who discovers that he is part of a brainwashing experiment when he is given orders he cannot follow. Queensryche made a sequel album fairly recently, but it didn't have the strength of the original. Perhaps they were saving it for this one...

American Soldier is the first album Queensryche has done in 20 years that can be put on the same pedestal as Mindcrime. It's got Queensryche's more recent, layered sound, but without the terrible dilution that's plagued so much of their later works and made so much of their later works so unmemorable. They've rediscovered themselves and remembered what they can really do, taking the best of where they were and where they are now, and poured it into a subject that's just as powerful as Operation: Mindcrime and a lot more disturbing, because it's happening to tens of thousands of real people.

The story follows a soldier and his deployment to Iraq, going in with contemporary ideals and arriving to discover the realities of war. Throughout the album, the music is interspersed with descriptions of the experience, of documented real phenomena, from culture shock to survivor guilt, the sense of separation from family, and the worry that the killer instincts one develops will follow one home, when and if one makes it.

I've waited a long time for Queensryche's comeback album. I was hoping Mindcrime 2 would be it, but, while it was pretty decent and had some good parts, it wasn't. This is it. This is the one. It fools you, because the first song opens fairly average, resembling a lot of their other recent post-shark-jumping material. But, By the second song, you're drawn in, and you're in for the ride of your life.
Taking a Gestalt approach, since it's the "in" thing...

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