Two years removed from the mega-success of their self-titled 2013 album QUEENSRŸCHE return with Condition Hüman, a record that once again continues in the group’s classic vein. That is a great thing as well as a good thing over the course of the disc. Hey, no one is questioning the band’s renewed vigor or their commitment to bringing forth excellence because when this album hits it HITS, believe me! Just understand that this one is not the instant grand slam the last disc was, and it may take you some time to get into it. Full disclosure: it didn’t click with me until my fourth listen.
Opener and first single “Arrow of Time” was the perfect way to get people amped up for this release because it has the twin guitar attack and sounds very much like something the band wrote while the inspiration was hot. Todd La Torre is fantastic as usual and the boys continue to be one of the best bands in rock and metal today. “Guardian” showcases the band’s larger-than-life abilities with guitarists Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren having a riffing field day while drummer Scott Rockenfield takes charge as he so often does, changing tempos seemingly at will, and Eddie Jackson’s bass is right there at every turn.
When I first heard “Hellfire” I immediately thought of the 1988 Operation: Mindcrime era and I think my nipples hardened just a bit. Fucking great song that NEEDS to be played when the band does their headlining run. The same can be said for “Toxic Remedy,” a song that finds La Torre drawing you into his lair while the band weaves their sonic spiderwebs behind you, trapping you inside. This track also features one of the album’s best and most fluid solos. Chris (Zeuss) Harris did an amazing job in the producer’s chair not just on this one but all the songs. Perfect man for the job!
Speaking of greatness, “Bulletproof” has some of La Torre’s best vocals yet. The guy has really come into his own and shows that QUEENSRŸCHE is his band to sing with, not anyone else’s. “Hourglass” is a fucking stunner where dirty riffs meet flowing cleans, coupled with huge backup vocals. The next two songs are an absolute contrast musically, but they are something else. “Just Us” is simply beautiful from start to finish, and I find myself smiling every time I hear it. “All There Was” is what should have been the album closer because the intensity and balls are right there from start to finish.
The actual album ender is the title track and it’s OK, but nothing more. A series of false starts, it sounds like it’s going somewhere but never really finds its way. Hey, I’m just trying to be honest. “Eye9” is very Sci-Fi but the riffs absolutely make the song tastier. At the end of the day this is a solid record. Is it as good as the 2013 album? No, it’s not. Not even close…it’s actually a bit of a letdown by comparison. But it IS another tent pole staked in the Todd La Torre era of QUEENSRŸCHE. With his voice and these amazing musicians the sky’s the limit for years to come!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Bulletproof”, “Hourglass”, All There Was”, “Arrow of Time”, “Hellfire”, “Toxic Remedy”