Early this month, veteran prog-metal band Queensryche released its latest album, Digital Noise Alliance to audiences. The band’s 15th album of original content (the band released its covers collection, Take Cover in 2007), it was released more than three and a half years after the release of the band’s then latest album, The Verdict and is the band’s fourth album released through Century Media Records. The 11-song album is everything that the band’s established audiences have come to expect from the group, both musically and lyrically, with arrangements that throw back to the band’s early days and lyrical themes that are certain to leave people thinking throughout. That is proven right from the record’s outset in the form of ‘In Extremis.’ The song will be discussed shortly. ‘Nocturnal Light,’ which comes later in the album’s 55-minute run, is another example of how the album’s musical and lyrical content come together to make it an interesting presentation. ‘Forest,’ which comes even later in the album’s run, is yet another example of what makes Queensryche’s new album so intriguing. It will also be examined later. When it and the other songs noted here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of that content makes the album overall another enjoyable addition to Queensryche’s catalog.
Digital Noise Alliance, the 15th new album from veteran prog-metal outfit Queensryche, is another presentation that audiences will agree is a strong new offering from the band. Its appeal comes through its musical and lyrical content alike, as is evidenced right from the album’s outset in its opener, ‘In Extremis.’ The nearly five-minute composition boasts a musical arrangement that throws way back to the band’s early days, what with the cutting guitar riff and tight time keeping. Front man Todd La Torre’s vocals are just as strong as ever here, too, continuing to sound so much like former front man Geoff Tate. While the arrangement harkens back to days gone by from Queensryche, it still boasts its own identity that keeps it just as engaging and entertaining as the works from those days.
The heaviness and energy in the arrangement becomes especially interesting taking into consideration the theme at the center of the song’s lyrical content. According to comments made by the band upon the single’s release, the song’s lyrics center on someone going through his/her last moments alive. The band said here, “This song is about being on your deathbed surrounded by your loved ones. Clinging to the last sense available, letting them know you will still be hearing them after correspondence or perceived consciousness is visible. Other conceptual metaphors flash in and out, taking note of a world that will not bend to accommodate such suffering, a universe of mockery and a universe void of such abilities.” Considering this expansive explanation, the fire and energy exhibited in the song just does not seem to match, such a theme would typically be accompanied by an arrangement that is more schmaltzy and contemplative in its nature. So to have that juxtaposition there makes for quite the interesting presentation. It makes the song just one example of what makes Digital Noise Alliance so engaging and entertaining. ‘Nocturnal Light’ is another example of the album’s overall strength.
‘Nocturnal Light’ presents its own unique arrangement at its foundation. La Torre’s vocals once again take audiences back in time with their power. At the same time, the overall instrumentation gives the song an even more intriguing identity. That is because the verses can actually be somewhat compared to works from Tool, of all bands. That might not be such a stretch, considering that so many audiences and critics alike consider Tool to be “dark prog.” The chorus sections meanwhile are more along the lines of classic Queensryche with their melodic rock approach. That overall approach and sound makes this song’s musical arrangement quite interesting in its own right in the bigger picture of this record.
The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s unique musical arrangement adds even more to the song’s overall presentation. In the case of this song, it comes across (at least to this critic) as a commentary about someone who is his/her own worst enemy. This is inferred early on in the song’s lead verse and chorus, in which La Torre sings, “What’s become of you/What’s become of me/And all we breathe/Cold soul/No visitors (in the chambers tonight)/Your soul to take in plain sight/No spoken word but always there/Don’t need no trigger to waste you away/Your words will fall/Casting memories of shade/These empty crowds and falling stars/And time and time again/Lost in emptiness/A victim of circumstance/You leave no stone.” The seeming commentary continues in the song’s second verse, which states, “Play the role/This masquerade/You speak your mind/Do as you’re told/No time to waste/In plain sight/Stand all alone/No breath of air/A broken sinner with a halo of gold/An open mind as the secrets unfold/The pendulum will swing tonight.” That note of a broken sinner with a halo of gold especially points to the seeming theme. It comes across as saying the person is imperfect, good and bad in one, but more good than bad. The remaining content seems to contemplate overall that person’s overall persona. Again, this is all just this critic’s own interpretation and hopefully is somewhere in the proverbial ballpark. The seeming overall contemplative nature of the song’s lyrical theme is a good fit with its companion musical content, and the two halves together make this song yet another example of how the album’s musical and lyrical content come together to make it overall, another strong new entry from the band.
One more song that stands out in this record comes even later in the album’s run in the form of the nearly five-minute opus, ‘Forest.’ The song presents a musical arrangement whose subtle approach is just as unique as anything else in this record. On the one hand, audiences can hear subtle influences of Pink Floyd in the light, semi-acoustic guitar line and equally gentle choral effects and drums. On another hand, audiences familiar with the works of fellow prog-rock outfit Spock’s Beard can just as much make comparison to that band’s works, too. To yet another extent, audiences familiar with Queensryche’s work can also make a subtle comparison to the band’s timeless hit single, ‘Silent Lucidity.’ The overall musical presentation is such a unique presentation that it becomes a work that cannot be ignored.
The musical content featured in this song is just one part of what makes it stand out. Its lyrical content adds its own interest here, seemingly taking on the all-too familiar topic of someone who has lost someone close to him/her. This is inferred right from the song’s opening verse and chorus, which state, “Leaves blow away/There they go/Please, won’t you stay?/Don’t you know?/I couldn’t miss you more/I can feel you all around/One more sign tonight/Make a sound or dim the lights/Help me find a way/Yesterday’s a memory/But it’s all I have today.” The seeming theme continues in the song’s second verse, which states, “Seasons they change/Nice and slow/Don’t you know/Tides rolling in/Ebb and flow/Can swallow you/Then let you go.” From there, La Torre reprises the song’s chorus, again finding the song’s subject yearning for that apparently dearly departed person. The verse meanwhile seems to find the subject seems to be thinking about the time that has passed since that person “went away.” This overall topic, together with the song’s musical arrangement, makes for its own engaging presentation that will touch so many listeners. When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes even clearer what makes Digital Noise Alliance such an enjoyable new offering from Queensryche.
Digital Noise Alliance, the latest studio offering from veteran prog-metal/rock band Queensryche, is another presentation that the band’s established audiences will enjoy. More casual audiences will find it just as enjoyable. That is due to its combination of musical and lyrical content, as is evidenced through the songs examined here. When these songs are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Digital Noise Alliance a record that any Queensryche fan will agree is well worth hearing.
Digital Noise Alliance is available now through Century Media. More information on Queensryche’s new album is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at: