Title: Promised Land
9:28 a.m. -- (Rockenfield)
Key Tracks: Damaged, Promised Land, Bridge
B-sides: Real World (released as a standalone single in 1993), Dirty Lil Secret, Someone Else? (full band), Two Mile High (from PL CD-Rom)
Promised Land Era Singles:
Notes: Released over four years after Empire, Promised Land went the exact opposite direction most fans expected from Queensryche. Instead of building on the previous record's warmer, melodic hard rock sound, Promised Land took a more acoustic and simplistic approach instrumentally. Cuts such as "Bridge," "Out of Mind," and "Someone Else?" provide a moody atmosphere, while rocking tracks like the first single, "I Am I," "Damaged," and "My Global Mind" balance the record out.
If Operation: Mindcrime was the more Iron Maiden/Judas Priest side of Queensryche, then Promised Land features the more cerebral hard rock, Pink Floyd-like portion of the band. It retains some aggressive, metal moments (“Damaged” in particular), but embraces a more introspective, dark and mid-tempo vibe overall.
The writing for Promised Land took place mostly in 1993 and spring/summer 1994, during the height of the “grunge” movement. Curiously, while past records from Queensryche incorporated elements of whatever trend was popular in music at the time (the band always changing styles to a degree from album to album), Promised Land was an oddity. The 11-track effort builds off of Empire to a degree (mostly in production), but the songs are clearly not influenced by grunge, nor do they harken back to Queensryche's “metal years.” They stand alone as what could arguably considered the most “pure” snapshot of the band's “own” sound.
Acoustic guitars played a critical role on tunes such as “Bridge,” and “Out of Mind," but the record as a whole really seemed built more on creating an overall mood than looking for a hit single. The result is a roller coaster that really runs the gamut of emotion and style from the quirky sitar-laced opener “I Am I,” to the aggressive metal guitars in “Damaged” to the piano-only closer of “Someone Else?” Instrumentation-wise, Promised Land was the most adventurous in the band's career to this point, also featuring cello, saxophone, and keyboard arrangements.
Lyrically, Promised Land is a dark, introspective look into the psyches of DeGarmo and Tate. The former's lyrics take a look at issues such as loss and mental instability, while the latter concentrated on self-doubt and the disappointments in the wake of reaching the pinnacle of success. For example, in a live solo acoustic show in March 2017, Tate revealed the genesis of "Out of Mind," explaining to the audience that his mother worked in a mental hospital when Tate was a child, and often took him to work with her (she was a single parent at the time). As a result, Tate observed a lot of interesting behavior from the patients. During the Promised Land sessions in 1993-1994, Tate told the story to DeGarmo, who according to Tate, was so inspired by the story, he came back the next night with "Out of Mind" completely written.
While Promised Land sold over one million copies in the U.S., and is considered by fans to be one of Queensryche's landmark albums, it was a commercial flop for EMI Records. Videos were shot for "I Am I," "Bridge" and "Dis-con-nec-ted," but the songs were rarely played on MTV, as the network turned its focused to grunge-era bands from Seattle, such as Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
Interesting facts: During the recording of "Promised Land" (the title track), Tate couldn't quite capture the emotion in the song Jimbo Barton was looking for. The two went out drinking, Tate got hammered, came back to the studio, and nailed the vocal in one take. In a conversation with a friend of mine years ago, he also warned to never listen to the song while in a depressed state, alluding to the dangers of suicide.
The tri-ryche totem pole depicted on the cover of Promised Land was created by Harold Alfred, an artist from Victoria, B.C., Canada.
Copyright 2015, AnybodyListening.net. All Rights Reserved.