Best 90's Queensrÿche album
After their disastrous MTV attempt "Empire", QUEENSRŸCHE decided to go back to a progressive approach on "Promised Land". However, in 1994, traditional heavy metal from the 80's was agonizing, whereas grunge, alternative rock and electronic music were greatly developing. Therefore, instead of reproducing the complex elaborated structures of "Operation: Mindcrime", the band decided to try something new by incorporating different musical styles. Still influenced by PINK FLOYD, but also by recent grunge bands such as PEARL JAM and even Eastern music, the compositions are more modern and innovative, resembling no other at the time.
Elegant and refined as always, this adventurous opus is well rooted in the 90's and not totally metal. It alternates atmospheric, gloomy, somber, melancholic, spacey, tortured and even slightly electronic passages. The range of addressed themes is also quite wide: reincarnation, isolation, alienation, madness, consumer society...
The ambient opener "9:28 A.M." is a short concrete music piece composed by drummer Scott Rockenfield. Quite surprising, the dark "I Am I" contains heavy riffing guitars and middle-eastern sonorities, installing an oppressive ambiance. Magic! The powerful "Damage Case" is great and sinister too. On the contrary, the enjoyable floydian piece "Out Of Mind" is acoustic and calm. "Bridge" narrates the relation between Chris de Garmo and his father, who died during the album recording sessions. A song also driven by the acoustic guitar, but a little boring tune. The proggiest song of the record is undoubtedly the title track, tortured and depressive. It features original elements such as discrete futuristic sonorities and especially - and for the first time - Geoff Tate playing saxophone! His solo is just mesmerizing! It's certainly not every day that you hear this jazz instrument on a metal disc.
Also pretty uncommon, "Disconnected" deals with American consumerist society and features Tate on saxophone again, supported by groovy riffing and electronic sound effects. Driven by DeGarmo's piano, "Lady Jane" is a touching power ballad about the influence of commercials. Then comes the heavy alternative rock "My Global Mind", efficient and catchy. The last two songs are unfortunately not the best part of the record. The rock ballad "One More Time" is average and a bit repetitive, whereas the acoustic closer "Someone Else?" sounds rather cheesy.
Anyway, "Promised Land" still remains adventurous and pleasant. I would like to hear this mixture of various styles more often. QUEENSRŸCHE has definitely emancipated from their primary IRON MAIDEN influences here. Although uneven and containing less memorable melodies, the music is quite unique and refreshing. A genuine trip into the depths of your mind and the illnesses of modernity. Truly progressive stuff, but not by the common approach of most prog metal bands.
If you're looking for long complex metal compositions such as DREAM THEATER, this is not the one to pick. Nonetheless, if you want something original and depressive, this album is what you need. Recommended to metal or even to alternative hard rock fans!