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? 

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