Hear In The Now Frontier is the sixth full-length studio album by the Seattle based Progressive Metal Queensrÿche, it was recorded in Stone Gossard’s home studio, produced by Toby Wright and released in 1997. With every passing album from the beginning of their career up until the time when this was released, Queensrÿche had reinvented their sound every time, and Hear In The Now Frontier takes a similarly large change in direction, crossing over into Alternative-Rock territory.
The sound of the album isn’t so much the sound of Prog-Metal in the Dream Theatre, Blind Guardian and Fates Warning sense; but rather a stripped-down Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and The Beatles inspired 90s-Alt sound with lots of jangly acoustic guitar and occasional down-tuned electric riffs.
Some fans took this to be a sort of betrayal or selling out, but in all honesty looking back from now it isn’t really any different from all of their huge stylistic changes before this album’s release and its just furthering the band’s mission to never make the same record twice.
In my opinion, this album isn’t the monstrous waste of space that it sometimes gets made out to be; tracks like ‘Saved’ ‘Reach’ ‘Spool’ and the single ‘Sign Of The Times’ all have some memorable moments. I actually like at least half of the album and don’t exactly dislike the other half in any legitimate way.
Ultimately, that just isn’t enough however and so this just isn’t all that amazing an album all things considered. There aren’t tonnes and tonnes of memorable riffs, the lyrics aren’t the sort of thing that stick in your head for days, the guitar solos aren’t as impressive as in the past and some of the material is just a little too forgettable. Luckily Geoff Tate’s voice is still very enjoyable, but then again he doesn’t take it to as impressive heights as he once did.
To be fair, even if this had have been the best Alternative album ever made, some people would still hate it just because the band changed to cash-in on the ‘in’ thing of the time. That thing is though, Hear In The Now Frontier isn’t the best alternative album ever made, it is just an average album. Its OK but it isn’t perfect, it isn’t something you’ll want to play in its entirety all that often and it definitely shouldn’t be the first Queensrÿche album that you buy unless you are a massive fan of 1990s Alternative Music and hate Prog or Metal.
Overall; if you hate change then avoid it at all costs, but if you can actually accept that the sound of the album isn’t all that Progressive or all that Metal, Hear In The Now Frontier is an OK addition to your collection that will deliver you a few more good songs to enjoy.