After the pervasive darkness of Operation: Mindcrime II and American Soldier, it’s understandable that Queensryche would feel like exploring a lighter vibe on Dedicated To Chaos. Whereas the previous two releases were particularly guitar-driven, Chaos is built around riffs turned in by drummer Scott Rockenfield and bass player Eddie Jackson, and adorned with layers of sound that only seem to reveal themselves on repeated listens.
“Get Started” is a suitably uptempo opener which recalls some of the vibe of 2000’s Q2K, with bright overdriven rhythm guitars and up-front drums, and the quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic is not entirely removed from the structures of Empire. But before long the album moves more into groove-heavy territory. At times sounding like a heavier version of singer Geoff Tate’s 2002 solo album
“Hot Spot Junkie” is a snapshot of the current climate out there in cyberland, but far from being some kind of “check out all the current interwebs slang we can throw in” exercise, the lyrics seem to be capturing an era that the band knows will appear dated a little bit down the track. From this view it reads like a commentary on the transient nature of technology and the way multitasking is taking over, keeping us from giving our full attention to any one thing at any one time. It’s a theme that emerges time and time again on the album, from the line “I don’t feel I have your full attention” in “Wot We Do” to “Can’t pay attention to what’s going on/The world is spinning faster than I can keep up.” In this sense the orchestrational layering on the album (including more up-front saxophone courtesy of Tate than previous releases) is almost like a sly wink: here are a batch of songs about how hard it is to pay attention today, yet they’re constructed with layers of sound that reward continued attention.
Guitarist Michael Wilton seems to play more texturally on Chaos than on previous releases, and his tone is rounder and softer than usual, allowing more space for the bass and drums. There are a handful of harmonized riffs and solos, and the guitars get beefier on tracks 8,9 and 11, “At The Edge,” “I Take You” and “The Lie,” each of which sound like they’d be at home on a more guitar-driven album like Tribe or Promised Land. But this album belongs more to Tate, Rockenfield and Jackson. It’s worth giving Dedicated To Chaos the benefit of repeated listens before passing judgement, because its full scope and potential are not really revealed on the first pass. Will Operation: Mindcrime devotees love it? Maybe not, but as someone who really appreciates the band’s more diverse moments, and the genre-hopping of Tate’s solo album, I really dig Dedicated To Chaos.
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