Queensrÿche is back and then there was four. Scott Rockenfield still has not returned to the band after opting out to be with his newborn son. The band decided to continue with Casey Grillo as their touring drummer. When it came time to record “The Verdict,” the band turned to vocalist Todd LaTorre to record all of the drums. LaTorre was a drummer long before he became the top notch singer he is today.
So it’s like a reverse Phil Collins thing, I guess. If you’d asked me years ago if Queensrÿche could survive with just Michael Wilton and Eddie Jackson as the only 2 original members, I would have said “definitely not!” But “The Verdict” is in and the band are in TOP form. LaTorre has successfully replaced two members of the band. The key is that the songs are some of the best the band has EVER done!
From the opening onslaught of “Blood of the Levant” to the proggier back end of the album, it’s great song after great song. “Dark Reverie” is amazing. “Bent” is yet another killer track and “Launder the Conscience” has a cool left turn in it that keeps you on your toes. For me, “The Verdict” is one of the top 5 (maybe higher) albums that the band has ever done. It’s that simple.
Release Date: 1 March 2019
Label: Century Media
RPWL has been a favorite of mine since I heard “Trying to Kiss the Sun” back in 2002. Since then, they have always been a consistently great band, album after album. “Tales From Outer Space” is their latest one and it is one of their best. It’s amazing that despite losing R & P, the W & L of the band (Kalle Wallner and Yogi Lang) have kept them on track.
Sure RPWL have a Floydian vibe and always have. But even being a former Floyd cover band back in the day never pushes them away from their own sound. For me they have a mix of IQ, Porcupine Tree and yes Floyd with their own melodic sensibilities. “Tales From Outer Space” has both a proggy epic in the amazing “Light of the World” but also their best prog-pop song since “Roses” in the awesome “What I Really Need.” That song would be a hit in an alternate reality.
The key to “Tales From Outer Space” is the consistency from song to song. There isn’t a weak moment and it doesn’t overstay its welcome either. “A New World” is a classic RPWL track and it’s bookended with the glorious closing ballad “Far Away From Here.” Honestly this could be the band’s best album. It should be the album that gets RPWL the attention they so deserve.
Release Date: 22 March 2019
Label: Gentle Art of Music
New Jersey’s East Of The Wall have been away for a while. It’s been five years now and considering the numerous lineup changes that they have endured over the years, it’s surprising that they survived to make “NP – Complete.” They have always reminded me a bit of bands like Mastodon, Cult of Luna and Intronaut but perhaps a bit more melodic.
“NP – Complete” finds the new lineup on the top of their game. The album has a big sound to it. It’s dense but still has plenty of atmosphere. Plus the songs really flow well which for me is the key to any album. “Tell Them I’m Sorry” and the oddly titled “Fast-Bang Pooper Doop” are a great opening 1-2 punch. Another thing that I like is that the clean vocals are better than ever and more prevalent than the harsh vocals. This makes the harsh vocals even more powerful.
Another track that I really love is “N of 1” which is super proggy and even jazzy. It’s a great showcase for how talented East of the Wall is musically. They never overplay but can still blow you away. East of the Wall should be as big as Mastodon and Intronaut. Yes I said it. It would help if they could hang onto this lineup for more than this album. The success of “NP – Complete” would go a long way in making that possible so I really hope it does well!
Release Date 29 March 2019
Label: Translation Loss Records
As always BUY these albums! All are worth your hard earned dollars!