Queensryche examines the plight of the American soldier on a new album of the same name, due March 31 on Atco/Rhino.
The project details the physical and emotional effects of combat experience. Songs like "Middle of Hell" relate what it's like to be in a war zone, while "The Killer" looks at sacrifice. Homesickness is addressed in "Remember Me" and the readjustment to civilian life is the story behind "Man Down!"
The 12 songs on "American Soldier" were inspired by conversations that singer Geoff Tate had with fans who are veterans. He shares a bit of common ground with them, as his father served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
"My father was a career military man, but until very recently he never spoke about what he went through. I think that reticence is true of a lot of veterans, which means most people never truly understand what it means to be a soldier at war," Tate says. "Hearing what he and some of our fans have endured made me want to share their stories with the world. This is an album about the soldiers, for the soldiers, as told by the soldiers themselves."
The voices of the troops literally made their way onto the album. Tate conducted interviews with soldiers from conflicts that span from World War II to Iraq, and dialogue from the recorded conversations is heard on several tracks. A few troops even recorded some vocals for "Unafraid."
"I was surprised to learn how little has changed through the generations," Tate observes. "I spoke with a Vietnam vet whose experience wasn't all that different from a soldier who fought in Somalia almost 30 years later. But what surprised me the most was how anti-war most soldiers are. To me, that makes their sacrifices even more moving."
Sacrifice is again addressed on the duet "Home Again," which embodies the emotional toll war takes on a family. In another nod to blood ties, Tate's own 10-year-old daughter Emily performs with him on the song: Tate supplies the voice of the soldier and Emily sings from a daughter's perspective of waiting for him back at home.
A concept record with politically related content is not new to Queensryche. The group broke into the mainstream in 1988 with its landmark album "Operation: Mindcrime" and released a sequel in 2006.
Queensryche is supporting "American Soldier" with a North American tour that starts April 16 at Snoqualmie Casino in Snoqualimie, Wash. So far dates have been confirmed into June, and international dates are to be announced.
The track listing for "American Solider" is:
"Hundred Mile Stare"
"At 30,000 ft."
"A Dead Man's Words"
"Middle of Hell"
"If I Were King"
Here are Queensryche's tour dates:
April 16-17: Snoqualmie, Wash. (Snoqualmie Casino)
April 18: Portland, Ore. (Roseland Theatre)
April 19: Chico, Calif. (Senator Theatre)
April 22: Anaheim, Calif. (House of Blues)
April 23: San Diego (House of Blues)
April 24: Los Angeles (House of Blues)
April 25: Las Vegas (House of Blues)
April 26: Salt Lake City (Depot)
April 28: Denver (Paramount Theatre)
April 29: Kansas City, Mo. (Voodoo Lounge)
April 30, May 1: Milwaukee (Northern Lights)
May 3: Walker, Minn. (Northern Lights)
May 5: Grand Rapids, Mich. (Intersection)
May 7-8: Chicago (House of Blues)
May 9: Mt. Clemens, Mich. (Emerald Theatre)
May 10: Greensburg, Pa. (Palace Theatre)
May 12: Verona, N.Y. (Turing Stone Casino)
May 13: Stamford, Conn. (Palace Theatre)
May 15: New York (Nokia Theatre)
May 16: Atlantic City, N.J. (House of Blues)
May 17: Myrtle Beach, S.C. (House of Blues)
May 19: Tampa, Fla. (Ruth Eckerd Hall)
May 20: Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (House of Blues)
May 21: New Orleans (House of Blues)
May 22: Houston, Texas (House of Blues)
May 23: San Antonio (Hemisfair Park)
May 24: Dallas (House of Blues)
May 29: Albuquerque, N.M. (Kiva Auditorium)
May 30: Phoenix (Dodge Theatre)
June 4: San Francisco (Fillmore)
June 5: Kelseyville, Calif. (Konocti Harbor)