By Adam Waldman
On March 25, 1997, Queensrÿche released their sixth album, Hear In The Now Frontier. Although the album debuted at #19 on the Billboard 200 chart, the momentum died shortly thereafter. While it’s true that Hear In The Now Frontier was far from the most popular Queensrÿche album (with fans and critics alike), it turned out to be monumental because it marked the end of the Chris DeGarmo era.
For a number of fans, the messy breakup with Geoff Tate in 2012 was the end of classic Queensrÿche, but for diehard fans, the end really happened when DeGarmo left the band in January of 1998. He was much more than just the primary songwriter and lead guitarist of the band. DeGarmo was also the president of the Tri-Ryche Corporation (responsible for the business side of things). And though it was never stated, in retrospect, it’s clear that he was the glue that held the band together. It took some time after his departure, but eventually the chasm between Tate and the rest of the band grew large enough to cause as ugly a breakup as you’ll ever see in a band.
According to an article in Metal Hammer, DeGarmo revealed that he was contemplating leaving the band during the Promised Land era…
“I was questioning the long term stability of the group by that point. The level of internal and external dysfunction was unacceptable to me. Apparently, no one else was paying attention, or bothered to compare the successful elements and priorities of our past to our current trajectory.”
Other factors contributed to DeGarmo leaving Queensrÿche, but the dysfunction between the members cannot be understated. Since leaving the band, DeGarmo has made a living as a professional charter pilot. While music is no longer his primary focus, he has worked with his daughter, Rylie, in The Rue.
Although Hear In The Now Frontier is the looked at as the end of the DeGarmo era of Queensrÿche, he did contribute as a writer on a number of songs on the band’s 2003 release, Tribe.
Looking back, it’s fair to say that Hear In The Now Frontier is a vastly underrated album that was probably judged more harshly than it should have been. Had the album featured 10 songs instead of 14, it may very well have been viewed in a much different light. There are some true standout moments on the album that still resonate all these years later. Aside from the songs that most are familiar with ( “Sign Of The Times,” “You” and “Some People Fly” ), the album also features an outstanding closing track (which is not unusual for Queensrÿche). Unfortunately, being the last track on an album that wasn’t a fan favorite relegated “sp00L” to being nothing more than a hidden gem. In my opinion, it’s the best song on the album.
Interestingly, Hear In The Now Frontier is noteworthy for more than just being the end of the Chris DeGarmo era of Queensrÿche. It also features the only song (“All I Want”) that has someone other than Geoff Tate (or Todd LaTorre) singing lead. It’s fitting that DeGarmo marked his exit by adding lead vocals to his other countless contributions to Queensrÿche.
Check out the videos below for “sp00L” and “All I Want”…