Queensrÿche love evolution, and so as with every album before it, Q2K sees a shift in musical direction. The band no longer write Heavy Metal, Prog-Metal, MTV Commercial Rock, dense Eastern-sounding Prog or jangly, primarily acoustic Alt-Rock material like on any of their previous albums.
The sound of Q2K is still influenced by the Alternative spirit, but in a different way than on this album’s 1997 predecessor Hear In The Now Frontier. There is a touch more distorted low guitar and a greater focus on percussion and texture.
In terms of highlights, most Queensrÿche fans can agree on the opener ‘Falling Down’ as well as ‘Liquid Sky’ and the single ‘Breakdown,’ which all fall in the spectrum of basic polished Rock, but are three good songs nonetheless.
The two semi-ballads ‘Right Side Of My Mind’ and ‘When The Rain Comes’ also both pick up quite a few compliments too, so that’s five out of the album’s eleven tracks that a lot of people seem to enjoy. If the entire album was as good as the highlights, and there was a little diversity in place too, then this would be a pretty great album.
Some of the songs aren’t as good as those highlights though. The rest are OK, but don’t really work well when played together. The problem with the album overall is that it all sounds the same more or less, so once you’ve heard a few tracks nothing can really surprise you all that much.
There are no instrumentals, no real fast songs, no really slow songs, no fully acoustic tracks, no spacey synth-driven tracks, no dynamic ten-minute tracks and not even any quick one-and-a-half minute interludes that deliver a message and then disappear. Rather, almost every song is mid-tempo, mid-heaviness, mid-length and so ultimately just end up provoking only mid-level excitement.
In addition; there aren’t any samples, there aren’t all that many guitar solos and there aren’t many additional instruments such as saxophones to mix things up now and again, so even within each song itself, there isn’t a lot of variety.
Still, even with those flaws, its not as if anything is actually bad. If you take any one song out of context, it won’t actually be bad (and may even be pretty good as in the case of the five aforementioned highlights), and of course Geoff’s vocals are still great the whole way through. Its just unfortunate that for some reason when they’re all sat together in one big row the album can just feel a little too grey, mushy and bland.
I feel that people are wrong just to reject the album out of hand because Chris DeGarmo isn’t playing guitar and people are similarly wrong to reject the album out of hand just because it isn’t very Metal sounding or Progressive in nature. That being said, the album does suffer from the aforementioned lack of variety and energy and so it takes a fair bit of patience to really enjoy. It isn’t as if Q2K is some massively underrated gem, its just that its not as bad as people make it out to be.
Buy it if you have an open mind and want a few more Queensrÿche songs to listen to, but don’t bother if you only wanted something that sounds like the old days or pushes a lot of boundaries.