Alright, time for me to weigh in here. It's gonna be a lot, so bear with me, just wanted to get it all out:
I was born the day after Queensryche released Empire. True story. I have been a fan of the band since I heard "Nightrider" on Live in Tokyo in late 2003 through my second cousin. It was pretty much love at first listen, and I really got into the band heavily, even seeing them live 3 times in 2005 alone. However, I could never get into their post-Empire stuff on the whole, so I have always said jokingly that Queensryche has sucked for my entire life, which is a bit of an exaggeration, as I still like some songs on Promised Land quite a bit, but overall, the past 20 years have not been kind to them, and they've gone from bad to worse. When I first got into them, I saw them live a ton because I was just excited to be going to concerts with my friends and they were doing the whole Mindcrime album live. It took all of one time seeing them do something differently for me to realize that when they didn't have the theatrics, I just couldn't really hold an interest in them as a live band. A few shit albums and a few years go by, and my interest in the band was pretty much completely drained.
I remember very vividly when the Rising West shows occurred, and I was as flabbergasted as anyone at the setlist, and knew before even hearing a note that Todd was going to kill it on vocals. I'd been first introduced to him when he joined Crimson Glory a few years ago, and when I heard him sing "Queen of the Reich", there was certainly no question in my mind that he was THE guy for the job. Ultimately, what really blew my mind was seeing how much fun the band seemed to be having again, and how GOOD the music sounded live as well. I was thoroughly excited for the ousting of Geoff Tate and when I saw them live about 3 months ago, it truly was one of the best shows I've ever seen. The band was in top form in every aspect, and Todd knocked it out of the park both vocally and in terms of his stage presence. The band absolutely had me in their corner.
Then I heard "Redemption". I was underwhelmed, to say the least. Was it the best Queensryche song I'd heard in years? Yeah, I'd say so. Was it great? Not at all. I just found the writing to be very weak and unmemorable, and found that the production job was just not becoming of the music at all. That being said, I kinda just swept it aside and figured there was better stuff to come. About ten days ago I heard "Where Dreams Go to Die"... basically the same exact reaction. Kinda boring, plodding, unexciting, uninspired, and poorly produced. I think the bass tone buries the rhythm guitar sound, which is incredibly weak to begin with. This band has absolutely forgotten how to write something that is METAL. Not some half-assed modern excuse for metal or hard rock, but actual metal. The style of the guitar playing just leaves me so underwhelmed as a guitarist and a songwriter. Todd's voice sounds great, and I don't mind him being a Tate clone as we all know that's what he was brought in to do... but the songs lack any strong melodic content that really holds my attention. I've heard "Fallout" from the live video(s), and am hoping it will sound better, but I doubt it will.
So, where does that leave us? Personally I feel that the new record will be the best thing the band has done since Promised Land, but only by a small margin, instead of the wide one I had been hoping for. The band lacks the songwriting ability to truly make a great album in 2013 (and I don't blame that solely on the lack of Chris DeGarmo - Wilton was just about as involved with the writing of their classic material). I feel that a lot of people have gotten so wrapped up in the drama of the whole thing that they just WANT to hate Geoff Tate so badly and want to see the band stick it to him that they're excepting very obviously subpar music and acting as though it's the answer to their nearly two-decade-old prayers. I'm not buying.