Queensrÿche, Digital Noise Alliance (Century Media 2022)

Metal powerhouse Queensrÿche release their sixteenth studio album, Digital Noise Alliance.

It doesn’t always happen this way, but I was on board with Queensrÿche from their very first self-titled EP. That song, “Queen Of The Reich,” got more spins from me than anything else I had going at the time. I immediately loved the band and have followed them ever since. Their music changed almost immediately from the hard rock / metal of that first release, transforming into complex, progressive-oriented concept music, and that was fine with me. Every step of the way – The Warning (1984) and Rage for Order (1986) – was leading unswervingly to the all-time great Operation: Mindcrime (1988). Even now, Queensrÿche is most remember and revered for that album, but every record they have released before and since is a shining example of their dedication to their music and their artistry.

There have been a few personnel changes over the years, and that is to be expected of such a long-lived act. The current lineup is Eddie Jackson (bass), Michael Wilton (guitar), Mike Stone (guitar), Todd La Torre (vocals), and Casey Grillo (drums). The sound they achieve on the new album harkens back to the early days of the band and has firm filaments that trace Queensrÿche’s entire history. The opening track, “In Extremis,” has a charging rhythm and forceful guitar front that sets the stage for Todd La Torre’s strong and melodic voice. The lead guitar elements have a progressive feel to them, attenuate in precisely the right way to integrate with the song’s set-up and to reach audience’s ears in the most impactful way. The next song is “Chapters,” and it slows the pace a bit to emphasize emotion and drama, all the while preserving the guitar and percussion innovations and, of course, the vocals. As you move through the record, each song is a new journey and discovery.

Across the eleven songs on the new album, Queensrÿche creates incredible music to express ideas in the way that they have been doing since the beginning, and in the unique way that only they can. The new set stacks up beautifully with the existing canon of the band, demonstrating irrevocably that heavy music would be incomplete without them. Highly recommended.

Digital Noise Alliance is out now through Century Media Records. Listen to the album and go see Queensrÿche on tour now with Judas Priest.

Links.

Queensrÿche website, http://www.queensrycheofficial.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/QueensrycheOfficial/

Century Media Records, https://www.centurymedia.com/artist/queensryche

© Wayne Edwards

Queensrÿche, Digital Noise Alliance (Century Media 2022)

Spirit Adrift, 20 Centuries Gone (Century Media 2022)

Texas metal band Sprit Adrift reflects on days gone by with 20 Centuries Gone.

Springing up from Austin in 2015, Spirit Adrift began on the doom side of the field and moved quickly toward full-force, straight-ahead heavy metal. Loaded with unforgettable riffs and stunning lead guitar work, the music they play will make them one of your favorite acts the first time you hear them. Their flawless live performances ensure their place as a big draw at festivals and as a must-see for any tour they are on.

There are two new songs on the latest EP and six covers. The first original is “Sorcerer’s Fate.” It starts out steady with a hook that does the trick and draws you in. A charging chop follows and then we hear Nate Garrett’s solid-as-a-rock vocals. A bridge leads us to a different perspective on this dark fantasy journey, and off we walk into the distance. “Mass Formation Psychosis” follows, opening with cautious acoustic strums that break for dramatic electrical instigations. The song settles into a feisty doom posture and we are thenceforth entranced. It is a superlative heavy track that goes out on a rugged, heady riff.

The songs Spirit Adrift chooses to cover are mostly lesser-known tunes from seminal artists in metal and rock. I like this approach very much as it draws attention to work that fans might not be as familiar with, even if they are fans of the band in question. The songs are “Everything Dies” (Type O Negative), “Hollow” (Pantera), “Escape” (Metallica), “Waiting For An Alibi” (Thin Lizzy), “Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings” (ZZ Top), and “Poison Whiskey” (Lynyrd Skynyrd). Quite a selection, huh?

The variety of musical types and formations across the cover tunes is formidable. The gothic saturation of the Type O Negative song paired with the solemn sorrow of Pantera’s “Sorrow” and then on to the more rambunctious attitude of “Escape” is a conjuror’s amalgamation. Any time a Thin Lizzy song plays, original or cover, my soul brightens, and “Waiting For An Alibi” is a fantastic track. Goddamn I miss Thin Lizzy, even after all this time. Spirit Adrift captures the ZZ Top fuzz just right, and that Lynyrd Skynyrd cover might be the most recognizable of the bunch to a broad audience. I like everything about this record. Set all else aside and listen to it right now. Highly recommended.

20 Centuries Gone is out now on digital. Find it through the band’s website (link below). Spirit Adrift still has a couple of tour dates with Crowbar, then they will be back out again later this year. They are an exceptional live band – make sure you see them whenever you get a chance.

Photos by Wayne Edwards taken at Piere’s Entertainment Center in 2022.

Links.

Spirit Adrift website, https://www.spiritadrift.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SpiritAdrift/

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/artist/spirit-adrift

© Wayne Edwards

Spirit Adrift, 20 Centuries Gone (Century Media 2022)

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)

The debut LP from Fort Worth metal band Frozen Soul is the merciless application of Old School Death Metal in the creation of a soundtrack for demise.

The band has only been releasing music for a couple years, with two splits, an EP, and a single leading up to Crypt Of Ice. They are OSDM in orientation, and for some reason they remind me a little of Tomb Mold, one of my favorite new(er) bands, except less frenetic and more deliberate. Expect blast beats and heavy rhythm circling the wagons around haunting growls. The band is Chad Green (vocals), Samantha Mobley (bass), Michael Munday (guitar), Matt Dennard (drums), and Chris Bonner (guitar).

The music has a grinding, heavy power to it. There is not a focus of lead breaks and whirling speed. Rather, Doom elements live in the metal here, bringing down the tempo and pushing the relentless riffs into focus. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Merciless,” and it is the perfect example of this, with a plundering, crushing weight towards the end that was set up by fierce first half. The song then leads into “Encased In Ice,” which very much feels like being surrounded by the thick walls of a glacial tomb for almost two minutes before the tempo picks up and stabs an ice pick in your brain. There is a flowing wave here. The wandering musical variegation is not random or haphazard – it is a compositional deliberation on the dark themes brought out in the album. The result is exceptional metal delivered on a frozen silver platter. Recommended.

The new album is out now and available widely from any place that carries Century Media Records products. Also, link below. Lots of versions and merch are out there if you are so inclined. Bandcamp has the earlier EP Encased In Ice if you are interested in that – it is also really good.

Links.

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/frozensoultx/

Bandcamp, https://frozensoultx.bandcamp.com/releases

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/release.aspx?IdRelease=2323

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)