Saturday, April 27, 2013

Album Review: Geoff Tate's Queensryche: Frequency Unknown

A couple weeks ago, I made a post about the state of Queensryche, and how there are 2 of them. Its old news, and it was then when I made that post...but I had only found out about it about a month before that. 

I heard the original lineup with Todd LaTorre on vocals, and their first release, Redemption and was blown away by it. While I was (and still am) clearly in the original lineup's camp, I was curious to hear the offering that Tate and his band would release. They released the track Cold. I liked it better than anything I had heard post 'Promised Land.' With the exception of Redemption of course.

I posted a link to 'Redemption' in the other blog post, so in fairness, here is Cold.


It is a very good song. I was excited to have the possibility of 2 different sounding bands. One, the classic yet revamped sounding original lineup, and Geoff Tate's version with a more modern sound, with his crew of hired guns.

The new 'Frequency Unknown' album was released. I bought it, and gave it the ol' car stereo test.
Tate's band is: Geoff Tate on vocals, Rudy Sarzo on bass, Robert Sarzo and Kelly Gray on guitar, Randy Gane on keyboards, and Simon Wright on drums. Just the Sarzo brothers and are enough to take notice, as they are both very good musicians...Rudy is a metal god! You would think that they would not only release an album with great songs like Cold, as well as come up with really great remakes of Queensryche classics: I Don't Believe in Love, Jet City Woman, Empire, and Silent Lucidity.
Think again. More like Frequency Unbearable.

I'll start with what I know. The remakes. One of the immediate things you notice is that Tate even in the studio recordings of these songs is just a little bit flat. You'd think that a producer would have made him fix that. I could overlook that, but the next thing you notice is that the bass is almost non existent, and the guitar sound is very dry and dull. Take the thundering bass line in the original recording of I Don't Believe in Love for example. It led you through the song. In the remake, its just there. Not really doing anything, just there. That's unheard of for Rudy Sarzo. 

In the last segment of the guitar solo, where the music stops, but the 2 guitars finish it out, and the next line is 'No chance for contact, There's no raison detre' the 2 guitars are literally almost a half step out of tune with each other. No, it isn't harmony guitar. They are out of tune.

But the worst of it is the backup vocals. Where did they go? Queensryche was always known for strong and powerful backup vocals among many other things. The backups in I Don't Believe in Love are too horrible for words. In Empire, the booming "EMPIRE" in the chorus has been replaced with a couple people just saying the word, or so it seems. And the backups in Jet City Woman actually sound like they got a bunch of kids to sing them. 

I guess I have only this to say about the remakes: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I kid you not about the dryness and blandness of the guitar, bass, and the pathetic backup vocals. I honestly thought it sounded like Tate decided to save some money on recording the classic songs, and just brought a karaoke CD into the studio and sang over it. That's how bad the remakes are.

Now, onto the new songs...Cold is the best song on the album. There are a couple others that are good, but overall, lackluster. The whole album is poorly mixed, and some of the songs, you can barely hear Geoff's vocals. It makes you really wonder what the thought process was behind the writing and recording. I listened to the album twice today, and I don't plan on listening to it again. But the only song I can really remember is Cold. 

Just because I can't remember the songs doesn't mean that they didn't make an impression. There is one weird song that sounds like they were trying to go the Guns N Roses route. Another one that kind of reminded me of Iron Maiden's song Seventh Son of a Seventh Son during the middle of it. There was another one that was kind of slow, and they keep repeating a chorus, over a VERY loud continuous guitar solo. There was another one that makes me think that this guy on YouTube wasn't very far off with his assessment.  (that is a joke) But the real song, Life Without You now that I think about it is pretty good. It sounds like it could have been released in between Empire and Promised Land. But, the ironic thing is that Tate proves that it IS possible to stammer while singing. What's ironic about that? He does it in the beginning of a song where he repeatedly asks "How do you like me so far?" 

The thing that I really do not understand is how did a producer let this out of the studio? The whole thing sounds more like a demo than a produced work of art. I have heard very low budget local band recordings that sound better than this, and to hear Tate's voice coming in flat on a studio recording really does not make me want to go see them live. 

EDIT: This video I posted below proves it. I don't want to see this live. Its Tate's Queensryche doing the Operation: Mindcrime album live. Tate is horrible, but listen to the music. They are off key, off beat, and all over the place. This sounds like a bad Queensryche cover band. I expect more from a metal god like Rudy Sarzo...not to mention Geoff Tate. I don't know what to say. You would think that legends like the Sarzo brothers would be able to nail whatever they play, regardless of what band's music they were playing. I guess I was wrong. Or maybe Tate and Cleopatra Records didn't give them rehearsal time before they recorded the album, and went on tour. Who knows. One thing that annoyed me is that Robert Sarzo is wearing a hat similar to the hat that Chris DeGarmo wore in the Mindcrime videos. Robert isn't worthy of even HOLDING Chris DeGarmo's hat after watching this show. And the woman in Suite Sister Mary is NO Pamela Moore. Watch it with caution. 

I heard a rumor that Tate was planning to re-release FU in the future. I suspect it will be under a different name after he loses the court case for the rights to the name 'Queenseyche.' If this is true, I understand. The album is very hard to listen to. So, if Tate does re-release it, he will need to do everyone a favor...Re-record the vocals. All of the vocals, and have someone produce and master the recording. Still, I ask again, why was this draft even released in the first place?
My advice? Wait for the original lineup to release their album. They say good things come to those who wait. And it shows when you put this entire album up against one single very well performed, mixed and produced  track off the unreleased original Queensryche's album. No, Geoff...FU!

......Is there anybody listening? 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dolphins new logo and uniforms? Myths BUSTED!

The Miami Dolphins have drastically changed their logo and uniforms. For the past couple months, the so called 'fans' have been making it impossible to read Dolphins related stories by posting over and over things like 'THE NEW LOGO SUCKS!!!" Pretty much ANY story that was released was trolled by their own fans. A new free agent added? "THE NEW LOGO SUCKS!!!" A profile of a potential draft pick? "THE NEW LOGO SUCKS!!!" Stadium news? "THE NEW LOGO SUCKS!!!"

I am going to address the comments that I have seen on all these stories in this blog.

Comment number 1: The logo looks like the Sea World logo. Lets

compare, shall we?

Comment number 2: Dolphins don't look like that out of the water! This dolphin is swimming! The old logo shows how a dolphin looks when it jumps out of the water!!

Hey..Our fins aren't limp in the
wild, SEA WORLD!

Comment number 3: The old logo shows a tough looking dolphin. The new one looks like a killer whale! 

Comment number 4: This new dolphin looks wimpy. 
You do know that dolphins can kill sharks right? Can a seahawk or a buffalo kill a shark? 

Comment number 5: I hate that new color. It looks too pretty. 

The Dolphins went plain. Plain is good. Plain is better than flashy! Plain is better than the paint splattered Jacksonville Jaguars uniforms.

Comment number 6: Dolphins GM, Jeff Ireland is horrible, and needs to be fired! We could do ALOT worse. Seriously. Jerry Jones anybody? 
Let's recap what he's done this year...Forget about previous years where he had Sparano and Parcells influencing him, let's look at THIS off season! He brings in coach Joe Philbin, and grabs a quarterback to build on. Then, he brings in 2 great wide receivers, a tight end, not to mention several great defensive players. He also stockpiles draft picks. The fans criticize praise this, yet torch the man when he trades up to get one of the best defensive players in the draft, Deion Jordan. 

Do you realize how deadly our D-line is going to be with Jordan lining up opposite Cameron Wake? I heard one guy say that they brought in Jordan with
Tom Brady in mind.

Miami has lots of draft picks this year. You make trades to get the players you want. Its not like he blew the entire draft to get one player. Give him a chance, people! At least give him a chance to fail with this lineup!

Remember this guy? Lots
of draft analysts were comparing
Jordan to him. 

So, my fellow Dolphins fans, why not have faith. The Dolphins have tried everything else. The only thing they have not tried is building a team from scratch. They started the process last year by bringing in Ryan Tannehill, and Johnathan Martin. Believe it or not, getting rid of Brandon Marshall was a good thing. The guy is one screw up away from being suspended for an entire year. Last year, the Phins weren't supposed to win 3 games. They won 7, and Tannehill was very solid with no real threats to throw to. Now, they do. Wallace, Gibson, and Keller. The running game was lacking last year. Why? No passing threat. Just wait until this new offensive lineup takes the field. There is a changing of the guard coming in the AFC East. Have faith, and stop bitching about it. If this lineup flops, I'll be the first person to show Ireland the door. However, I think Jeff Ireland is going to be around for a long time.

So, suck it up, Dolfans! And keep your hatred of the uniforms off the stories unless the story itself is about the logo and uniforms. You don't like them. We get it! But alot of Dolfans do like them, and would like to read the damn story! When Denver and New England's uniforms and logos changed, they were hated. We just didn't have Facebook and Twitter at the time. Remember when they changed the Camaro in the early 90's? Alot of people hated the new look. Now, the classic 80's design is linked to people who still sport a mullet hairdo, missing teeth, and coming from a narrow family tree. The new look will grow on us, especially when the team starts WINNING! That's the real reason we like football, right?

So, buy a new jersey, grab a beer, and watch this team evolve. I'm excited to be a Dolphins fan right now. Haven't been this excited in a long time.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Tale of Two Queensryches; A Fan's Point of View

TWO Queensryches???? What the hell???

It is true, and here is my take on it.

First, a history of my Queensryche fanhood...It is necessary to get this out in the open because I feel I speak for MANY Queensryche fans. Then, a history of the band, and what went wrong.

I was exposed to them after 'Rage for Order' came out, and was blown away by it. I was even more blown away when 'Operation: Mindcrime' came out. I missed them in concert for those 2 tours. However, when Empire came out, I was ecstatic. But, in my opinion, Empire was good, but did not stand up to 'The Warning,' 'Rage,' and 'Mindcrime.' It was good, and I loved listening to it, but it was not their best album by far. I first saw Queensryche in concert on the 'Empire' tour, when they performed 'Mindcrime' in its entirety. I saw them at the Orlando Arena. It was amazing. When 'Operation: Livecrime' was released, I HAD to have that box set. The county fair was in town, and I worked all night as a local walk in to tear down a Flyin' Bobs ride to get the extra money to go the next day to get the box set. I wore out both the cassette and video tape over the years. Then, 'Promised Land' came out. It took some getting used to, but I eventually welcomed it. It was the next step in an evolution of the band. I saw Queensryche in concert on that tour as well, in Tampa. They were great, once again.

But then, 'Hear in the Now Frontier' came out. I did not like that album at all. I found myself thinking 'Will someone please let me know how we spun out of control....' about the whole direction of the album. It was good music, but it was NOT Queensryche. To add insult to injury, Chris DeGarmo, the driving force at the time behind the music left. The next album, Q2K was released. No DeGarmo. This was the first Queensryche album that I did not buy. However, I did go to see them in concert on that tour. I saw them at the House of Blues in Orlando. The music was NOT the same without DeGarmo there. To add insult to injury, Geoff Tate after the two opening songs said something along the lines of "I hope you guys like OLD Queensryche because we are going to be doing alot of that tonight!" I was pumped, and quickly let down. The oldest songs they played were off of 'Mindcrime.' After the show, as the crowd left, I overheard many people talking about how disgusted they were after Tate said that they were going to play "Old Queensryche." but no 'Take Hold of the Flame," etc. I was venting the same sentiment.

Then, 'Tribe' came out, featuring the return of Chris DeGarmo. I was PUMPED! But, a friend bought the album and played me a few songs. It was as lackluster as 'Hear in the Now.' And, DeGarmo left the band once again because of differences with Geoff Tate. I didn't buy this album either. Had Tate seized control of the band?


The next album to be released was 'Operation: Mindcrime 2.' I bought it, and was VERY disappointed. I listened to it twice, and the songs actually seemed forced and rushed. Every song on the original 'Operation: Mindcrime' could have been a hit. They were amazing, but this seemed like a blatant attempt to cash in. The first track of the album is a continuation of the prison scene in 'OM.' A prison guard says "Ok convict, you're a free man!" and Nikki walks. Hello? He killed a priest! How does he just walk? The best song of the album is the duet with the late, great Ronnie James Dio, called 'The Chase.' Tate plays Nikki, Dio plays Dr. X. The problem? Tate and Dio both sing in the same key, making it difficult to distinguish who is who. I could not believe that they released this album as a sequel to the masterpiece that is 'Operation: Mindcrime.'

The next 3 albums released, I didn't even bother with. I heard one song off of 'American Soldier' and 'Dedicated to Chaos,' and they sounded like more weird stuff, on the musical scale of 'Mindcrime 2.' Funny thing is that I didn't even know they had released an album called 'Take Cover' until writing this blog and looking up the discography for continuity's sake. "Take Cover!" That could have been a warning to Queensryche fans about what else was coming.

I really hate to bash one of my favorite bands like this, but I am being real.

Now, fast forward...Everyone knows the story...The band no longer liked Tate's family running everything, so they fired them, and Geoff Tate right before a show. Tate, in retaliation spits in drummer, Scott Rockenfield's face, on stage. Could they have shown a little more respect when firing him, as in maybe waiting until after the show? Sure. But, spitting in someone's face is unforgivable.

So, Geoff Tate and the original members of Queensryche went to court for the band name. Its still in litigation as to who gets the rights to the name. Tate quickly put together a new lineup with Rudy Sarzo on bass, his brother, Robert on guitar, along with long time buddy, Kelly Gray who replaced Chris DeGarmo in Queensryche, and Bobby Blotzer (RATT) on drums. The original lineup, Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, and Scott Rockenfield brought on guitar wizard, Parker Lundgren, and singer, Todd LaTorre, formerly a singer for Crimson Glory, a legendary metal band from Florida.

I honestly think Geoff Tate will have to relinquish the Queensryche name. He after all is NOT an original member of Queensryche. He JOINED the already existing band! I heard an interview with Don Dokken about this, and Dokken said that Tate should have just called his band 'Geoff Tate.' He also said that he has a hard time picturing Queensryche with Bobby Blotzer as a member. I agree with both points.

Tate's band is releasing an album later this month called 'Frequency Unknown' with this album cover:

Notice the FU on the fist. I wonder what they were thinking when they designed that album cover!!! Sour grapes, anyone?

Now, back to the original lineup with a new guitarist and singer...They have been touring and recording. Their album will be released in June. For those of you who haven't heard it, they have released a song from THEIR new album. The song is called 'Redemption' and it is AMAZING! It sounds like the next evolutionary step from 'Promised Land.'

Now, I have yet to see this band, but I am excited, and will when they tour for the new album. If you go to YouTube, you will find many live recordings of this lineup. Todd LaTorre NAILS it. They OPEN with Queen of the Ryche. When was the last time Queensryche did that? Hell, when was the last time Tate did that song, and it sounded good?  One common theme I see in all the live clips of their shows is happiness. These guys are the real deal, and according to the original band members, they are having fun for the first time in years. 

I am a singer, and Geoff Tate will always be an influence to me, but he lost his way at some point. I've never understood why certain band members think they will be more successful without the band members who got them there in the first place. 

I stand in support of the original lineup of Queensryche. They have a new singer and guitarist, but they are picking up at the fork in the road where the band lost their way, and are now going down the right path, and are kicking the crap out of the unbelievers while making the real Queensryche fans proud.

I only dream in infrared, but from a haze came a rage of thunder, and QUEENSRYCHE IS BACK!!!!