In a world where so many bands only have one or two original members in their ranks, it is sad to see how severely Queensryche was affected by the loss of one guy. Having been the main writer and business overseer, Chris DeGarmo’s departure greatly changed the band’s dynamic as Geoff Tate assumed leadership and a series of guitarists were brought in to cover his tracks. The first of these was Seattle producer Kelly Gray, a former bandmate of Tate’s, who would quickly become a controversial figure among fans despite this being his only appearance as an official member.
Despite DeGarmo’s departure, Q2K’s sound isn’t too far removed from Hear In The Now Frontier. Some of the subtle nuances have lost their impact but the grunge influence has been kept in tact and most of the songs have kept their loose execution. However, there may be a little more variety and there is a fairly good mix of ballads and heavier tracks.
The band’s performances also don’t seem to be too affected though that has more to do with the style than anything else. While Gray isn’t much of a lead player, the focus on rhythms lets him fit in well and the vocals seem to be holding up as well as they were on previous efforts. In addition, Rockenfield seems to be a little more prominent as songs like the opening “Falling Down” and “Burning Man” are driven by his percussion skills.
Unfortunately, the lack of nuances and weaker songwriting do bring this album down to a degree. There is still nothing bad on here and having a few less songs on here does make it feel more solid than Hear In The Now Frontier, but this is the first Queensryche album where the listeners spends more time looking for diamonds in the rough than enjoying a consistent release.
Q2K’s diamond ends up being “The Right Side Of The Mind,” a brooding closer that channels the Promised Land days with its subdued vocals, spacy guitar and bass work, and unsettling chorus. In addition, “Falling Down” and “Sacred Ground” make decent grunge rockers while “How Could I” and “Beside You” respectively stand out for a passionate chorus and almost gospel motifs.
In addition to having the dumbest title for a Queensryche album this side of Operation: Mindcrime II, Q2K is the first that doesn’t feel like a true Queensryche album. Tate’s vocals may have been their most unique asset but their sophistication and strong dynamics made sure they still sounded like themselves through even the most blatant sellouts. It’s a slight step below Hear In The Now Frontier but it’s still great compared to just about everything that would come after it…
“How Could I?”
“The Right Side Of My Mind”