Released: 2001, Sanctuary Records
I want to start this review with three cautions.
It is very long, it is very opinionated, and it is very harsh. So if you love Queensryche and expect me to gush, stop reading. If you want a very critical overview of the major flaws in this CD keep going!
Usually I try to be positive and optimistic. I try to inject a bit of intelligence and humour into my reviews but the word “critic” comes form the word critical. I am very critical about this release and deeply unhappy. Why? Because I care. Let me make this clear, I love Queensryche and almost everything they have ever done. To check out my glowing review the OPERATION:LIVECRIME box-set check the A to Z archive. If you think I am being petty or picky, you could be right, but the standards and high quality I have come to expect from the Queensryche camp are gone.
Enough pre-justifying my opinion. This CD sucks. It is fundamentally flawed on a number of levels. Before dissecting this piece of junk I’ll tell you why it sucks.
I have been forwarding a theory around to a few close friends in the metal industry that a few labels are doing things that are not good for the metal scene. Unfortunately Queensryche has fallen victim to the big label, Sanctuary. I don’t blame the band. I blame Sanctuary for producing such an inferior product. I also blame, in part, the bands management for not keeping the band informed, “Hey Sanctuary is putting out a piece of junk with your name on it!” I won’t go into extensive detail, but Sanctuary is exploiting classic bands to make money. That’s their job. I don’t begrudge that. What they are doing is very quickly producing very poorly done Live CD’s, Best of CD’s and compilation CD’s of the artists they own the rights to. I fully understand why. It is easier, cheaper and safer for Sanctuary to re-issue LIVECRIME and rush LIVE-EVOLUTION for the Christmas market. It is easier and cheaper to produce those CD’s than giving a newer band money to record, tour support or advertising. It is the nature of the beast, but I don’t have to like it. Here is what’s wrong with LIVE-EVOLUTION.
The original concept was to have Queensryche record a live CD. Fair enough. When it is released a mere 90 days later, it is fundamentally different from what actually happened. There are four or five errors in the track listing.
1. The songs on the CD are not in the same order they were played live. I am friends with one of the largest Queensryche fans going, he went to both shows (he traveled to Seattle from Canada) and he tells me the CD track listing is not in order of was done at the show.
2. The printing of the song list on the CD is wrong. At least 4 tracks are out of sequence.
3. The concept apparently was to have suites. As Celtic Bob mentioned in his excellent review of the DVD (see above) there are problems with the track line-ups. The first suite called “EP/WARNING suite” has 3 songs from the CD RAGE FOR ORDER. They shouldn’t be there. The “RAGE/MINCRIME Suite” has NO songs from RAGE FOR ORDER. The “HITKF/Q2K Suite” has only one song from the entire HEAR IN THE NOW FRONTIER CD.
4. The notes inside say there were supposed to be 29 songs when there are really only 26. Are some songs missing or did someone just miscount? I have a feeling Sanctuary held back three tunes, space restriction perhaps, to use later as bonus tracks on another re-issue which I’m sure is in the works. Perhaps they are counting “Spreading the Disease Parts I & II” as two separate songs and they may be counting the one minute instrumental “Requiem” as a song. They got that wrong too, the song is called “Electric Requiem”, not just “Requiem”. I suppose they counted the one minute, 15 second opening, spoken narration of, “I Remember Now” as a song too!
Even if (hypothetically) the label said, “We are dropping the “suite” concept and the “actual representation of what happened” concept,” (meaning a straight duplication without manipulation of song order, a faithful and unmolested copy of what happened those two nights)…even if they dropped all those ideas at the last minute and decided to go in chronological order…they STILL got it wrong! The songs are not in order in any way.
I have many other little complaints. The packaging is lousy. It has nothing (or at least very little) to do with Queensryche. The whole computer generated art is amateur at best. It looks like a 15 year old kid with Photoshop did the cover and insides. The art themes are lame. A burning helix? What the hell that that have to do with Queensryche? Nothing. A bunch of shadowy, naked people on a conveyer belt? What the hell does that have to do with Queensryche? Nothing. The live,alien Tri-ryche concept is cool, I will admit that. But, man, it’s not hard to come up with something better. Why not the “Evolution” of the Tri-ryche symbol over the years? Get it? Evolution? It took me 10 seconds to come up with a concept better than the cover of the Tri-ryche is the alien trapped in an isolation-chamber theme. That’s been done before by Massacre, Hypocrisy, Stuck Mojo and other bands. It’s boring, it’s unoriginal. Wake up! Also I have no idea what the back cover is supposed to be. A blurry eclipse? Someone please explain to me what that is supposed to be.
Next complaint….the booklet inside the three-panel, fold out, digipak. It has no lyrics, very few notes, and dark, blurry photos. There is a nice essay by Paul Gargano inside. But in reality, what could he say when he was asked to write a short piece on the band? The truth?! Not likely!! He neatly glossed over (which is only thing he could have done under the circumstances) the fact that Queensryche has tanked in terms of song-writing, sales and credibility in the metal community. The last ten years of Queensryches history have been on the downward trajectory. Maybe that’s why they only choose 8 of the 26, (sorry, I mean 29) songs from their last three CD’s and three of the four they choose from EMPIRE were the predictable quasi-ballads. It is a blatant attempt by the label to push the commercially successful, radio friendly tracks.
How did this travesty happen? Sanctuary wanted a quick CD for Christmas. They had too may tunes for a single CD so they cut back on the packaging budget, and rushed out a totally inferior, totally substandard and almost totally unacceptable Double Live CD by one of metal all time greatest bands. Most people at Sanctuary aren’t Queensryche fans, they are business people just trying to make money. A harsh assessment perhaps but prove me wrong. Why do I know this? A Queensryche fan would NEVER let this happen.
What is the only thing that barely salvages this debacle from the dreaded zero out of five? The music. The songs on Disc one are just good enough it salvages the rest… (I noticed they even spelled disc wrong on the actual CD’s) The mix is weak, you can barely hear the crowd at times. The production is pretty flat, the power and intensity is barely there. Scott Rockenfield is a killer drummer yet his kit sounds sedate on this recording. Again the song selection is weak and predictable leaning towards their mellower compositions. Overall that’s OK because I still love those songs! I still would have liked to hear heavier tracks like “Surgical Strike”, “The Needle Lies” or “Resistance” to pick up the pace a bit. The old saying goes, “You can never please everyone with the track selection on your Double Live CD because inevitably someone’s favorite gets left off and they are pissed off and complain in a web-site review.” Queensryche or Sanctuary (I’m not sure who) has said they will correct the mistakes after they sell the first run of 70,000 or so. For those of you who want to wait for a corrected version may have to wait a while before they sell another 50,000 copies of this disc.
Final assessment: Packaging and presentation: 1/5. Music: 3/5. Average overall score: 2/5. The MR description of the 2 out of 5 rating has never been so apt. “Has it’s moments, but not worth buying or owning.” Sad. Get the DVD instead, if you must, I hear at least it kicks ass (Ed. Note: It indeed does, I'll be sticking with the DVD after reading this one dude!).