Queensrÿche is back with another epic concept album, this time putting their formidable musical muscle behind the stories of veterans of wars from World War II to Iraq. The results are akin to watching a gripping combat film like Platoon or Saving Private Ryan. Vocalist Geoff Tate says the album’s not political, but acknowledges being surprised at how antiwar many soldiers are, and the songs distill that sentiment.
The band’s playing is as powerful as ever, setting Tate up to soar on every track. Lead single “If I Were King” is classic Queensrÿche, mixing hard-rock choruses with some Pink Floyd-ian atmospherics. “A Dead Man’s Words” depicts a man down behind enemy lines in the Middle East, using Arabian scales for dramatic effect. “Middle of Hell” starts with a beat that recall’s U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky,” and the song has a similarly hypnotic quality, while the hard-hitting “Man Down” is just plain heavy. American Soldier is easily one of the most ambitious albums of the year.