On February 5, 2021, Todd La Torre, the amazing frontman of "Queensrÿche" released his first solo album "Rejoice in the Suffering".
The album is not a musical sequel to "Queensrÿche" at all. it has its own entity with a separate identity and musical style. This can be heard already from the opening track "Dogmata", which at times feels like a classic heavy metal in the style of "Judas priest".
Todd wrote all the tracks on the album together with his childhood friend Craig Blackwell, with whom he formed his first band. The two who grew up in Florida, play on all the instruments on the album.
They began writing the excerpts for the album back in 2017, but took advantage of the break "Queensrÿche" took in the face of the Covid-19 lockdowns to end it, while recording it in both of their private studios in Florida.
The two also recorded and produced the album themselves, but enlisted the help of renowned producer Zeuss who, among others produced "Queensrÿche", to help them with final mixes and mastering.
For those who do not know Todd, we will note that he joined "Queensrÿche" in 2012, as a replacement for singer for Geoff Tate. Since then he appeared in all of their last three albums.
Todd started his career as a drummer when he was 7. He shows off his amazing drumming abilities throughout the album, for his variety of styles, from classic Metal, through Speed, Power, Metalcore, Thrash and even Death touches (in one of the bonus tracks).
Todd is also not bad of a guitar player and his voice is so versatile that it sounds like several singers in one voice. He knows how to adapt himself to the specific song and change it just like a chameleon with full control in an amazing way. Sometimes he sounds like Rob Halford ("Pretenders"), sometimes like Tony Martin ("Crossroads to Insanity"), of course he also sounds like Geoff Tate he replaced in "Queensrÿche" and even sometimes like Chris Cornell.
Craig Blackwell's guitar work in this album is excellent and even surprising in relation to a fairly anonymous guitarist. He deserves a lot of credit for the dynamic, tight and varied playing that pushes this album forward, with powerful and catchy riffs like in "Hellbound and Down" or "Vanguards of the Dawn Wall" and melodic, fast and accurate solos, with some deviations from the classic metal, like the bluesy part at the outro of "Crossroads To Insanity" or the acoustic intro in "Vexed".
It's amazing to think that Craig is also responsible for playing all the bass and keyboards roles on the album, it's not a trivial matter and a proof of Craig's amazing talent.
The name of the album and the theme song "Rejoice in the Suffering" refer to the story of Todd's father's suicide in 2016. The song includes a guest appearance by Jordan Ziff who is familiar to us from "Ratt".
The tragedy of Todd's father suicide, hovers over all of the creation process, as reflected also in the the moving ending song “Apology” dedicated to him.
The album was also released in an expanded version that includes three bonus tracks, that do not fall short of the rest of the album's songs. The most surprising of which is perhaps "One by One" which corresponds with Death Metal.
In conclusion, for us this is probably the surprising album of 2021. Although in the three "Queensrÿche" albums in which he participated, Todd La Torre proved to be a talented and excellent singer, we still did not expect such a high level of writing and performing ability, as demonstrates in this album. What amazes us even more, is the diversity and versatile, both in terms of musical styles and especially in Todd's tone of voice, which is able to change it just like a chameleon, as he moves between different styles from classic Heavy Metal, through Metalcore and even Death, in clean singing, growling, ultrasonic screams And heavy roars.
03. Hellbound and Down
04. Darkened Majesty
05. Crossroads to Insanity
06. Critical Cynic
07. Rejoice in the Suffering
09. Vanguards of the Dawn Wall
12. Set It Off
13. One by One