QUEENSRŸCHE
"Tribe"

(Sanctuary/Metal Is)

01. Open
02. Losing Myself
03. Desert Dance
04. Falling Behind
05. The Great Divide
06. Rhythm of Hope
07. Tribe
08. Blood
09. The Art of Life
10. Doin' Fine

RATING: 5/10

When Seattle's most majestic of metal institutions attempted to transform themselves into a third-rate ALICE IN CHAINS a couple of albums ago, that was bad enough — even if both bands did kind of hail from the same town.

But now they're turning into CREED. And when we come up with such a horrifying comparison, we're not talking commercial prospects (the 'RŸCHE's album sales started to plummet just short of ten years ago), or even in the stylistic sense (thank God for small mercies). In actual fact, it's how the band who once came up with "Operation Mindcrime", one of the most stunning metal albums of the eighties, could now stoop so low as to make music that shambles along with such a withdrawn, morose gait. As we said, it's as if the band took conceptual tips from Scott Stapp and his merry men.

As is so common with albums that are destined to take a great big nosedive, "Tribe" deceptively announces its presence with a small nugget of quality. Opener, erm, "Open" is a real slow-burner of a number in all departments, from the smoldering riff to Geoff Tate's naked-but-impassioned croon. But that, unless you count the vaguely electronic groove of its successor, "Losing Myself", is just about it in the enjoyment stakes.

Things go downhill so quickly, you wonder what returning guitarist Chris DeGarmo was thinking when he decided to step back up to the plate. Then again, he only "contributed" to the sessions, so maybe when he cast his ears upon the detuned dirge of the droning title track or the disparate "dance" beat of "Blood", he took off as fast as his spindly legs could carry him.

Ultimately, QUEENSRŸCHE now seem to have wedged themselves firmly into a rut where everything they do has to come under their interpretation of being dark and ethereal, when you'd really like them to crank up the axes and get Tate screaming again — or at least blend the two moods successfully as they last did with '94's vastly underrated "Promised Land".

That one-time knack for bombastic catchiness now seems to have eluded them almost completely. And if you thought their millennium-souring "Q2K" album was bad, you ain't heard nothin' yet. Operation Mindcrime? Yep, that just about sums "Tribe" up…

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