Queensryche - The Art Of Live
Live albums are funny things. There's sometimes an air of contractual obligation about them, as bands contrive to have a year or two off but still release some product to keep fans happy. They don't often work, either, many a live album has fallen along the wayside, forgotten by fans. Queensryche's The Art Of Live is mostly successful, but not really a 'live' classic. Part of the trouble is the production; apart from the obligatory audience noise between the tracks, there isn't much to let the listener know that it is live. The songs sound great, but not a whole lot different from the studio output. That's not a bad thing, really, just a bit of a letdown.
Right, that's the bad points out the way, so what about the good points? Well, there are many. Geoff Tate is a fine vocalist, and this album really shows off his range. Musically, Queensryche are a sort of 'Heavy Metal' Pearl Jam, if you like - a quality band with thoughtful lyrics and very strong songwriting skills and these songs would be nothing without Tate's gut wrenching voice. He's a heavy metal singer who can actually hold a note, being classically trained to sing opera before turning to rock music. Listen to Best I can for a taste of his full range. It's one of their strongest songs, and sounds absolutely great here. You can hear every word Tate sings clear as a bell.
Other good things are, of course, the actual songs. Tribe, from their acclaimed 2003 Album, Tribe is five minutes of classic metal, almost defining the genre and it's followed by Sign Of The Times which ups the ante considerably with it's haunting harmonica opening before crashing into a superb riff. It's great. The Operation Mindcrime tracks, from the classic 1987 album, are here, complete with audio introductions from the album. Breaking The Silence still sounds as chilling as it ever did, as does The Needle Lies. If you've never heard Operation:Mindcrime and consider yourself someone who 'likes a bit of metal', then make it your next purchase. It's one of the best albums of the 80's and deserves a bit of recognition as such.
Queensryche are a slightly odd band. Ever present, much like Pearl Jam, they've continually released album after album of usually excellent music, and do so without very much attention from the press. When they first appeared as cliché ridden, tired old metal band complete with sci fi costumes and ludicrous videos, you'd never have expected them to put out a live album of this sort of quality in 2004. The Art of Live is quite stunning, and, despite the rather over polished production (and, in fairness, they are quite a polished band), is an excellent introduction to the band and a fitting addition to their canon.