ST. PETERSBURG — Queensrÿche will perform Saturday, Jan. 18, 8 p.m., at Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N., St. Petersburg.
Tickets start at $30. Call 727-565-0550 or visit www.jannuslive.com.
Formed in 1980 in Bellevue, Washington, Queensrÿche have never been a band to rest on their laurels. The heavy metal outfit has remained both musically innovative and lyrically thought-provoking. Last year’s “The Verdict,” the band’s 15th studio album, echoes Queensrÿche’s three decades of career highpoints while pushing ahead with the confidence and urgency of a band just now coming into its own.
Released on Century Media Records, the album was produced and mixed by Chris “Zeuss” Harris, who also helmed the band’s 2015 release “Condition Human.” The new album is also Queensrÿche’s third album with frontman Todd La Torre, who joined the veteran band in 2012, taking the reins from Geoff Tate, the band’s original lead vocalist.
Their legacy is impressive: Boasting 30 million records sold, Queensrÿche has toured alongside bands such as Metallica, Def Leppard and the Scorpions while building a dedicated legion of fans. Like some of their early albums, “The Verdict” captures the feel of a young, hungry band just hitting its stride.
“‘The Verdict’ is that statement for us, in much the same way that ‘The Warning’ was,” said founding guitarist Michael Wilton. “This one’s the creative convergence of this lineup. We got together and worked on every song as a band.”
According to Century Media Records, “The Verdict” is very much an album for 2019.
As far back as 1988’s “Operation: Mindcrime” — the band’s career and commercial breakthrough — Queensrÿche has distinguished themselves by combining powerful and progressive rock with equally evocative lyrics.
“It’s very usual for Queensrÿche to write about geo-political, socio-political, socio-economic, governmental-type things,” said La Torre. “Ideas that push people’s buttons, but in not such a literal way. There’s definitely an abstract aspect to the lyrics that make it open to interpretation.”
Queensrÿche and its now-seasoned frontman aren’t afraid to be direct in their lyrical ire. “Blood of the Levant” tackles an issue ripped straight from recent headlines.
“That really is about the Syrian war and how it started with these two kids spray-painting,” La Torre explained. The lyrics refer to Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria since July 2000, and the Syrian Civil War. “That song has to do with the people becoming rebels against their own Syrian government and the ones that support it.”
The bond that runs through the current lineup of Queensrÿche was tightened and tested during the making of was tightened and tested during the making of “The Verdict.” In addition to La Torre, the band features bassist Eddie Jackson, rhythm guitarist Parker Lundgren and lead guitarist Michael Wilton.
Personal commitments forced drummer Scott Rockenfeld to sit out the recording sessions. La Torre ably handled the drumming chores with the sort of reverence for Queensrÿche’s subtleties and nuances he demonstrates behind the mic.
“I’ve been drumming for 30 years,” said La Torre, who was recruited from Floridian metal band Crimson Glory. “I certainly know the nuance and style of Queensrÿche’s drum parts first-hand so it certainly made me a logical choice to record the drums.”
Queensrÿche’s impact on other bands and musicians is undeniable.
While they dominated rock radio in the 1990s with a string of hits including “Jet City Woman” and “Silent Lucidity,” their influence on rock and progressive bands such as Dream Theater and Nevermore has been significant.
“We grew up during the days when being experimental was a key element,” said Wilton. “Where you could write an album that was completely different than the previous album, put those songs in your set-list and that would completely work. That’s what allowed us to play with Bon Jovi, AC/DC and Iron Maiden. It’s about the musicianship, the songwriting that desire to carry the torch when songs were put together by musicians, not machines.”