‘Rejoice in the Suffering!!!’ wails our Todd – and suffer you will if the sound of unforgiving, remorselessly chugging guitars and overwrought vocal gymnastics isn’t, as they say, ‘your bag’.

But then again if it isn’t, you probably wouldn’t give Todd La Torre‘s new album the time of day – very sensibly – so what about the rest of us? Is Todd making us rejoice? or suffer?

As ever, it’s a bit of both; At thirteen songs and and an hour more or less in duration, there’s probably more TLT on offer here than you either want or need, but, if you have the patience to wade through some of the more workaday material, there is a decent amount on Rejoice… to enjoy.

Opener Dogmata is a pretty good way to kick things off, with La Torre veering away from his day job voice into the worlds of Halford and Dickinson with pleasing effect, whilst the excellent Darkened Majesty and the dramatic Crossroads to Insanity are perhaps more what you’d expect from a man who has been singing for Queensrÿche for a decade plus. And all three, it has to be said, are excellent, but perhaps the best here is the heartfelt power balladry of Apology, where La Torre gives an utterly spellbinding performance in honour of his departed father.

La Torre sings and plays drums on all the tracks here, whilst Craig Blackwell (who added keys to the ‘rÿche’s 2019 album The Verdict) plays guitar, bass and keyboards. Between them the pair have created a fullsome sound that sounds very much like the work of a ‘proper’ band. The default setting is, as already noted, a rather grim faced but traditional chug; however Blackwell is an adept six stringer who occasionally adds a modern, djenty sound to his rhythm playing and also deploys his keyboards to good effect in an effort to break the general flow a little. And then of course there is the singing – and it has to be said that our hero turns in a highly competent performance throughout, as expected.

Of course, ‘competent’ could be taken as a double edged compliment, but it is honestly given here as an appraisal of the man’s performance rather than trying to throw shade on his perceived lack of pyrotechnic ‘spark’ as a front man. Throughout…Suffering La Torre reminds the listener just what a fine vocalist he actually is; even on less sparkling material the thrashy, Testamentesque Vanguards of the Wall, say – where I swore for some while that the words being sung on the chorus were ‘Phantoms of the Dog World’ – he gives a fully committed, all-guns-blazing performance, and for this he should undoubtedly be commended.

La Torre has split fans of Queensrÿche down the middle since he took over from the incomparable Geoff Tate in 2012, and it’s hard to see this album winning anybody over to his camp who wasn’t already there, but if you enjoy the sound of heavy metal executed with sincerity and talent then you may indeed find a reason or two to rejoice in this particular brand of suffering…

Rejoice In The Suffering
releases on April 21st.