Queensryche - American Soldier

by Zane Ewton

Queensryche does concept albums well. One of the few bands who can. This time they took a new approach and weaved the stories of American soldiers into one common thread. The ambition behind American Soldier is compelling and sure to be emotional.

Along with Geoff Tate's dramatic voice, audio from American soldiers is interspersed among the songs, giving them a chance to tell their own story. Fortunately, this is all built on the strength of some solid songs. The first two tracks seem like fragments tools to help set the mood. However, by the third track, "Hundred Mile Stare," the band is in full swing with an excellent song that would fit well, and outclass, anything on modern rock radio today.

Do not be alarmed by the modern rock comment, the next song "At 30,000 FT" is a prime slab of classic Queensryche.

One after another, each song follows in the Queensryche tradition, heavy riffing, dramatic vocals and thundering drums. There are no surprises, just exactly what Queensryche fans love.

The soldier audio is disarming and often shakes the mood of the record, which is probably what was intended. Lyrically, Tate alters between slogans, and plain, sincere declarations. He is best somewhere in the middle on songs like "Man Down!" Half shouting fury, half melody.

In the hands of another band, or any country artist, a project like this could be schmaltzy or blandly sentimental. Queensryche strikes the right balance by allowing the story to tell itself, over the top of swirling guitars. American Soldier feels real and genuine. Fine rock record the band should be incredibly proud to have recorded.

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