Thursday, June 27, 2013

Queensryche Month, Part 12: Review of Dedicated To Chaos

Dedicated to Chaos will always be remembered as the album that almost broke Queensryche. In addition to being panned by just about everyone that heard it (Including a few band members), it allowed many fans to see just how far the band had fallen and arguably contributed to Geoff Tate’s well-publicized departure in 2012. It was also the first album to feature Tate’s former son-in-law Parker Lundgren on guitar duties though this factor doesn’t speak for itself quite as much as it would in the near future…

Scott Rockenfield was right when he described this album as being “kind of like Rage [For Order] through a time tunnel,” but not in the way that he intended. While he probably made that statement as a plea or reassurance to longtime fans, Dedicated to Chaos and Rage For Order are similar in that they both experiment with a wide variety of styles and have lyrical themes that reflect the musicians’ states of mind at a given time. However, Rage unified those sounds with brilliant songwriting and thoughtful lyrics; Dedicated To Chaos just serves as a mass of stylistic confusion thanks to a bunch of hacks not knowing how to handle their midlife crises.

This can best be seen on tracks like “Got It Bad” and “Wot We Do,” easily the two worst songs ever released under the Queensryche name. The music combines jazz, R&B, and whatever else they could think of into these faceless blobs and the lyrics do their best to bring sex appeal to a group that generally kept their class even when singing about horny teenage boy fodder. One could argue that the cabaret flashbacks are merely an attempt at being campy but the pacing is far too slow and Tate’s sneering is more obnoxious than funny.

Speaking of obnoxious, the lyrics are easily the worst that Tate has ever put together. When he is not providing us with the sexual insights of a man that is just a year older than my dad, he becomes everything that The Warning warned us about as he goes on about his YouTubes, cell phones, and how having “those sunglasses on” is pretty much the most erotic thing ever. In short, it’s the perfect antithesis to their classic outlook.

But with that said, Queensryche can still pull off a few worthwhile moments even in the absolute nadir of their career, though it can be a pretty big stretch to really notice them. “Get Started” makes for a legitimately fun opener and continues the band’s occasional Rush parallels thanks to its “Far Cry” style pacing. Following that, “Hot Spot Junkie” is a goofy successor to “Damaged,” “Around The World” makes for okay U2 worship, and “Retail Therapy” is a decent Alice In Chains-esque grinder if you are capable of ignoring the crap lyrics on each of those songs…

But what really makes this album frustrating is how the actual performances are actually pretty good. The diminishing vocals fit in with the album’s smug tone and toned down style, the focus on the rhythm section was the closest thing the album had to a smart move, and the guitars still have a decent shine to them in the absence of actual riffs. It’s certainly nothing that makes the songwriting any better but it does provide a glimpse at what the band could’ve been capable of with the right material.

The most masochistic fan may find a song or two of value, but there is no doubt that Dedicated To Chaos is the lowest point of Queensryche’s career. Say what you will about Lulu or Illus Divinum Insanus (You know, the other two pieces of shit that came out in 2011), but there has never been a band that so blatantly spit in the faces of their principles while claiming to be still adhering to them. Just listen to Rage For Order if you want experimentation, Operation: Mindcrime or Empire if you want insightful lyrics, and the new one if you want to see just what Queensryche is truly capable of.

Current Highlights:
“Get Started”
“Hot Spot Junkie”
“Around The World”
“Retail Therapy”

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