Promised Land marked a slight turn in the career of Seatle's Queensryche. After the resounding success of the multi-platinum selling Empire, the band took a lengthy break before returning to the scene with this dense, less commercial release. While sales initially were brisk, many fans who were longing for more catchy "radio friendly" hits seemed turned off by the heavier, complex sounds contained on this CD. Listening to Promised Land once again nine years later, newly remastered and repackaged, one can really appreciate this fine recording for what it was-a good slice of moody, progressive metal.
Stripped of much of the pop sheen of the Empire period, the songs here take much more time to get into and appreciate, as each song has many layers and characteristics. The in-your-face anthems "I Am I" and "Damaged" start things off with a decidedly metal attitude, with chugging guitars and Geoff Tate's histrionic vocals. The band then changes gears for two gorgeous songs, "Out of Mind" and the gentle ballad "Bridge", showing they were not afraid to go down a similar avenue as on the hit "Silent Lucidity." The title track is a dark and moody piece, led by Scott Rockenfield's busy drum fills and the effects laden guitar work of Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton. Unfortunately, the second half of the CD is where things tend to get a little spotty, as the ramaining songs tend to meander and lack the power and punch of the first half. "Dis con nect ted" sees the band trying an alternative/techno trip, while "Lady Jane" is another mellow DeGarmo number, touching, but lacks the depth and catchy melodies of "Out of Mind" or "Bridge." The funky "My Global Mind" is perhaps the best of the CD's latter half, with Tate's voice soaring above Eddie Jackson's throbbing bass grooves and lots of crunchy wah-wah guitar licks. "One More Time" features a great vocal by Tate (and a great chorus) , but the song is very short and begs for more, while the closer "Someone Else?" ends the CD on somewhat of a downer. Basically a duet with Tate and piano, the singer gives a great performance, but the song is extremely moody and personal about someone at the crossroads, and perhaps not the perfect way to end this album.
The bonus tracks are a real treat here, as you get an alternate, full band version of "Someone Else?", which works much better than the depressing album version. Also, "Real World" is included from the Last Action Hero soundtrack, both in studio and live versions. If you haven't heard this song, it's a real winner, and the studio version features the Michael Kamen orchestra. It's a powerful number, led by Tate's passionate vocals and endearing acoustic & electric guitar work. Rounding out the package is a live version of "Damaged", even more kicked up on stage.
This remaster is basically an essential purchase for Queensryche fans, and recommended for the casual listener as well. Sonically, this CD is one of the better remasters I have heard in a while, and while it would have been nice to have included the lyrics in the booklet, there is a nice essay on the making of the album, as well as photos. An underrated recording from the band for sure, and definitely worth investigating if your collection ends with Empire.