There’s only one thing that abhors a vacuum more than nature, and that’s the music industry. How else to explain all that mediocre material trotted out to fill two-disc sets by artists with barely enough ideas for one? As more musicians discover enhanced CD and CD-ROM, the trend toward gigantism is bound to continue. Let’s hope the responsible parties are as respectful of the form as Queensryche is with Promised Land, a (you guessed it) two-disc set in which these multi-platinum heavy-metal conceptualists indulge their taste for new media.
Half of Promised Land, a documentary disc titled Big Log, will be disposable to all but hardcore fans. As you wander through the Puget Sound cabin in which the group recorded 1994’s Promised Land audio CD, you’re treated to three full-length music videos plus brief clips of band members uttering such profundities as ”It’s a pretty tight little world, this Queensryche thing.” Big Log is the kind of futuristic interactive Teen Beat stuff I can imagine Judy Jetson enjoying.
The real reason to buy Promised Land is the second disc, an unmistakably Myst-style brain bender in which you solve music-themed puzzles (match drum solo to geometrical pattern) to avert disaster on a lush island. As unoriginal as the concept is, you can’t fault its execution; some of the images — including a floating city and a gigantic guitar whose strings look like bridge cables — are truly stunning. Unfortunately, this game isn’t accompanied by any of the songs from Promised Land — the only music here is ambient goop by the band, unless you solve all the puzzles, in which case you’re treated to ”Two Miles High,” a bonus track written for the game. Maybe EMI should have thrown in a third disc? Nah.