Live albums have lost their impact, but man, Live Evolution gives a lot of Queensryche for the money. This oh-so-dense double set resembles Space Ritual, All the World's a Stage, or some lost too-long prog tome you study until you die. Let's face facts, only fans are gonna buy this, and they're gonna be happy. With Operation:Mindcrime Queensryche proved it knew how to make records; but being sandwiched on tour, with limited time before the influential Iron Maiden and after guru Halford (who dubbed his record Live Insurrection), made the quintet understand the dynamics of a live setting. Queensryche compresses its legacy into a sizzling set of 29 songs recorded over two nights at the Moore Theater in Seattle (Wish I could have been there. At least I made Cheap Trick's Music for Hangovers recordings). Live Evolution also marks the first release under Queensryche's new contract with Sanctuary, and the band seems energized and ready for another twenty years. Live Evolution is divided into four chronological suites: the EP/Warning Suite (which actually includes Rage songs); the Rage/Mindcrime Suite (which actually only includes Operation:Mindcrime songs); the Empire/Promised Land Suite; and, finally, the HITNF/Q2K Suite. Of course the first section kicks. From the primo Judas Priest-isms of the mammoth "Queen of the Reich" (admit it, Tate's right up there with Dickinson and Halford) to the insanity of the blinding "Roads to Madness" (not to mention the unbelievable "Walk in the Shadows" and "Lady Wore Black"), these blistering early bits make you glad you came. And then the question that plagued Queensryche during the storied second phase of its career: What do you do when you make the perfect concept record? Not a very common problem in this day and age, more of a quandary for the likes of Pink Floyd who made albums so cohesive, ingenious and intertwined that each record had to be performed all the way through at shows. In '88, Queensryche amazed the world by accomplishing the same feat with Operation:Mindcrime. For several years, the boys kept the teeming masses happy by tearing through Mindcrime front to back. Now, of course, Queensryche has to trim some tracks, but the Mindcrime segment remains incredible. The prefacing hospital sounds of "I Remember Now" still bring chills to the spine (Those same snippets open Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood. The Crue knew.). The initial guitar chords sound a bit different, but the words are still the same. Sure, we all miss DeGarmo, but no true fan can ignore this swirling cyclone of intensity. And if you're not a fan, why are you reading? Seriously, it does not get any better than "Spreading the Disease" (Except for "Speak," erroneously not included here) . If you need me to tell you how good Operation:Mindcrime is, chances are you need to listen to the original immediately. Coming from a dude weaned on Mindcrime, it's almost refreshing to get to the underexposed stuff on the second disc. The confines of metal still limit Queensryche's later material, but through consistent dedication to quality, the quintet gets away with experimentation. Thus, long workouts like "Falling Down" and "Breakdown" (another concept?) remain cool and mix things up for variety's sake. I'm not a guy who like Bic flickers, but the majestic "Silent Lucidity" actually provides a cool breather from the show's intensity. The flailing but tight stick-work of Scott Rockenfield anchors the entire bone-crushing masterwork. Queensryche survives because the band is comprised of true-believers, head-banging for a cause. Take hold of the flame.
-STONE, Cheap Trash NYC