And here it is, the new ‘ryche product, not really sure now if this is really the thirteenth Queensrÿche – honestly, I don’t think so – or the first album by Geoff Tate’s version of the ‘ryche – which seems more appropriate. Since I mentioned the war between the two sides of the band, the preliminary injunction lawsuit, disputing ownership of the band name, resulted in a verdict that allow both Tate and the other band members to use the band name until the next court date, scheduled for November 2013. The “other” half – actually 90% of the band – will release their album in June, although, the first single, “Redemption”, was released on March 25, 2013.
I know, generally speaking, the truth it’s somewhere in between, but this whole thing of Tate claiming the Queensrÿche name after he was the one who always was complaining about the metal content of the band and always tried to force his bandmates to leave behind the rock and metal roots and do “other” things, try different approaches and sounds, now smells pretty bad. And listening “Frequency Unknown” and the desperate struggle to prove that they are rock and metal and “true warriors”, make them look – and sound – quite ridiculous. I was curious why the hell Tate felt the need to re-record some classic ‘ryche tracks (I Don’t Believe in Love, Empire, Jet City Woman, Silent Lucidity) and his answer was shocking and cynical: “The money. The record company really wanted those for resale and licensing and all that kind of that stuff, so they said: ‘We’ll give you a lot of money for it.’ And so I said, ‘Okay, beautiful!’ They wanted them to sound, you know, as close as we could make them to the originals. And that’s what was really hard, was making them sound that way.” Well, the result it’s actually not so satisfying. Unfortunately, they managed to sound only as an imitation.
“Frequency Unknown” is a statement and a message to Tate’s ex-bandmates: “F.U.”. Simple like that. I’m only confused why Tate if he hate so much rock and metal music, now felt the urge to line-up a genuine, all-star rock and metal line-up and delivered a mainly rock and metal oriented album, while as most of the rumors around the band in the last two decades confirmed that Tate always was against the rock/metal affiliation of the band. With bandmates as Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot/Ozzy Osbourne/Whitesnake/Dio/Blue Oyster Cult), guitarist Robert Sarzo (Hurricane), drummer Simon Wright (AC/DC/Dio), guitarist Kelly Gray (Queensrÿche 1998 – 2001) and keyboardist Randy Gane (Myth) and guest as guitarists Chris Poland (Megadeth), Dave Meniketti (Y&T), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger), Ty Tabor (King’s X), K.K. Downing (Judas Priest), Craig Locicero (Forbidden) and Chris Cannella along with drummers Paul Bostaph (Slayer/Testament) and Evan Bautista, Tate seems to struggle hard as he can to legitimate the use of the Queensrÿche name and he’s doing all the things he was previously against.
The album it’s generally a solid mixture of progressive rock and metal elements and cliches with additional taste of modern rock/metal, kicking out pretty intensely with “Cold”, but drowning in monotony and mediocrity with “Everything”. At track 8, “Frequency Unknown” became boring and monotone. The worst thing about the album it’s the dry and lame drum sound, although, with all respect, Simon Wright is great at AC/DC, but will never be a colorful, subtle, groove-oriented drummer as Scott Rockenfield. But the main issue is not his quite simple and straight style of drumming here, but the totally lifeless and dry sound of the drums. And Wright only performed “Cold” and “In the Hands of God”, the rest of the tracks were shared between Evan Bautista and Paul Bostaph (Slayer/Testament). Unfortunately, both failed to deliver soulful performances and the vapid sound anyway killed even the good intentions. I guess, both drummers were conducted to stick to the drumming style of Wright who will have to perform live these songs.
Guitarist Kelly Gray performed on the album only the solo of “Cold” while the other guitarist, Robert Sarzo, performed only the solo of “Give It to You”. Craig Locicero delivered the rhythm guitars on all the 10 new songs and Martín Irigoyen of Vernian Process performed all the guitars, basses, and drums on the re-recorded “Mindcrime” and “Empire” tracks.
K.K. Downing of Judas Priest performed the solo of “Running Backwards”, Ty Tabor of King’s X performed the solos of “In the Hands of God” and “Everything”, Chris Poland (ex-Megadeth) performed the solo of “The Weight of the World”, Brad Gillis of Night Ranger performed the solo of “Life Without You”, Dave Meniketti of Y&T performed the solo of “Fallen” and Chris Cannella performed the solo of “Slave”. Jason Slater also contributed with the theremin solo of “Dare” and with several bass recordings while Rudy Sarzo performed only three tracks in studio.
Nina Noir has sung backing vocals on the re-recorded version of “Jet City Woman”, while Tate’s daughter Emily and stepdaughter Miranda sung backing vocals on the re-recorded version of “Silent Lucidity”.
01 – Cold
02 – Dare
03 – Give It to You
04 – Slave
05 – In the Hands of God
06 – Running Backwards
07 – Life Without You
08 – Everything
09 – Fall
10 – The Weight of the World
11 – I Do not Believe in Love (Re-Recorded)
12 – Empire (Re-Recorded)
13 – Jet City Woman (Re-Recorded)
14 – Silent Lucidity (Re-Recorded)
Released on April 23 on Deadline Music/Cleopatra Records.
The album was co-written, and originally produced and mixed by Jason Slater who previously has also produced Queensrÿche’s albums “Operation: Mindcrime II” (2006), “American Soldier” (2009) and “Dedicated to Chaos” (2011).
On April 15, 2013, Cleopatra Records made the entire album available for streaming on SoundCloud, but these were removed by midnight, mainly because the negative reactions to the recordings. Samples of all songs became available for streaming through iTunes and Amazon on March 13, 2013, but once again, there were many complaining s about the overall quality of the recordings, and in particular the mix.
As first reaction Billy Sherwood was called to remix the album, but later he withdrew from mixing the album, citing scheduling issues. Finally there were several people involved with remixing the songs, including Anthony Focx of Beautiful Creatures (“Cold”), Jürgen Engler of Die Krupps (“Silent Lucidity”), and Glenn Fricker (“Everything”).
Still, overall the sound of the album is at best mediocre metal/rock sound with 80’s and 90’s reminiscences.
But let’s stick to what’s really matter the music, so, now the songs.
“Cold” it’s build upon a solid riff and Tate’s distinct style of singing and charming voice. But the mix is strange, the voice is a little bit under-mixed and the guitar riffs are too loud even regarding the rest of the instruments. It’s not a bad song, but not something special and unforgettable as well. People tend to compare it with Redemption, well, the other Queensrÿche have a much heavy metal oriented style and sound, reminding me of Judas Priest, but anyway, the composition it’s much more interesting and the sound it’s 100 times more balanced and powerful.
“Dare” have another tasty riff as driving element while the voice still sounding pretty weak throughout the verses. The chorus and the breakdown it’s less metal, but more alternative rock flavored, it’s those things what Tate always pushed. I kind of like the idea, but this is not Queensrÿche and except pride and the benefits of using a popular name, really do not see the point why Tate struggling for the name instead showing his own face and proving he’s own qualities by starting a clean page of his career.
“Give It to You” it’s a modern rock track with a nice groove throughout, although the mix is quite dis-balanced and annoying. The drums are terrible, that AC/DC type of boom-bang really do not fit into this. We don’t like you so far, Tate, sorry! But the guitar solo of Robert Sarzo it’s a good one. Eventually the best thing of a quite minimalist and poor song.
“Slave” sounds a little bit more alive, have a kind of Fight flavor, the riffs are strong and powerful, in your face type of grindings. That could be a great song in the mid 90’s. The chorus strangely reminded me of Bruce Dickinson, while the dry and tasteless drums are once again out of the picture. Anyway, this is one of the best moments of the album. Chris Cannella added a quite classy solo.
“In the Hands of God” have a dark vibe and kind of bring us back to the atmosphere of “Rage for Order” (1986). Ty Tabor did a nice guitar work – as always – although, once again, the song it’s pretty poor in ideas and originality and except the charming, oriental guitar them, the drums and the mix kill the rest of it.
“Running Backwards” it’s another more heavy metal oriented track with a little bit of Fight addition and once again, Tate sound more as Bruce Dickinson then himself. The guitars are very loud and the rest of the instruments, including the voice are buried under the riffs. K.K. Downing delivered a quite solid solo.
“Life Without You” it’s a hard’n’heavy type of half-way power ballad, half-way slow rock ride, the guitar work have some nice moments, but the sound it’s saturated, dirty and messed up, makes difficult to enjoy the listening.
“Everything” it’s a balled with a forced modern sound, but the result it’s unconvincing. It’s something better to skip and forget fast as it’s possible. It’s the alpha and omega of hard/heavy mediocrity.
“Fall” it’s another slow track with an intended reinvented vibe of “Empire” era ‘ryche, but somehow nothing seems to come together for Tate and his bandmates and unfortunately the dis-balanced and messy mix really do not help them too. The drums sound awful.
“The Weight of the World” is the third ballad, reminded me of… Bruce Dickinson in the period he experimented outside Iron Maiden. Not a bad song, but outdated and unconvincing. As the whole production.
It was made on rush, Tate definitively wanted to deliver first, wanted to prove he’s right and even further, he’s legitimate to use the Queensrÿche name, but this album it’s nothing to be proud of.
From the five re-recordings, “Silent Lucidity” sounds the best, but none of them hit the quality of the original recordings.
F.U.? If Tate screwed somebody, it was himself.
The Tate’s version of Queensrÿche:
Queensrÿche – Official Site