The sixteenth studio album from the thinking man’s metal band, Queensrÿche, is here. Digital Noise Alliance is the band’s first album since 2019’s The Verdict. It is also their fourth album with Todd LaTorre, who has been with the band for ten years now, and first with drummer Casey Grillo (who takes over from LaTorre). And finally, rejoining the band after fifteen years away is Mike Stone, last heard playing guitar on Operation: Mindcrime II (as well as their covers album from 2007).
That’s a lot of numbers to throw at you, but it takes care of most of the changes the band has gone through in these pandemic years. Digital Noise Alliance sees the band aiming for a more aggressive sound than on The Verdict, and by and large they succeed, with some great playing, singing, and production all making for a wonderful-sounding eleven-song album.
“In Extremis” opens the album in hard-charging fashion. The band is firing on all cylinders here, and the fact that Michael Wilton has revived some classic amps and sounds for his guitar work adds an air of vitality to the material. The quality of guitar tones on this album cannot be understated.
“Realms” and “Sicdeth” follow a similar aggressive pattern, displaying an energy that was somewhat lacking three years ago. Other gems include “Lost in Sorrow” and “Nocturnal Light,” both of which have a classic Promised Land-era vibe to them, especially the latter with Eddie Jackson’s killer bass licks.
If these quick notes seem overly optimistic, hold on. While the production and performances are top-notch, and a few of the songs here demonstrate a real vitality and mid-’90s vibe, just as often the band leaves us wanting more in the songwriting department. Songs like “Chapters” and “Out of the Black” are forgotten as soon as the last note ends, and “Forest,” clearly the band’s effort to mirror the success of “Silent Lucidity,” falls extremely flat.
All this is a roundabout way of saying Digital Noise Alliance is a good Queensrÿche album – not bad nor great. If ranking it within their at times vaunted discography, it would fit right in with albums like Hear In The Now Frontier and Tribe. A handful of catchy tunes, an equal number of forgettable tracks, but strong performances all around make this album one that the band’s fans will eat up, whereas pickier listeners will be happy to grab a handful of strong cuts and add them to their Queensrÿche playlist.
(released October 7, 2022 on Century Media)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Watch Queensryche – “In Extremis” Video