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Geoff Tate's Queensryche - "Frequency Unknown" (CD)

Geoff Tate's Queensryche - "Frequency Unknown" CD cover image

"Frequency Unknown" track listing:

1. Cold
2. Dare
3. Give It To You
4. Slave
5. In The Hands Of God
6. Running Backwards
7. Life Without You
8. Everything
9. Fallen
10. The Weight Of The World
11. I Don't Believe In Love (Queensryche Cover)
12. Empire (Queensryche Cover)
13. Jet City Woman (Queensryche Cover)
14. Silent Lucidity (Queensryche Cover)

Reviewed by on April 25, 2013

"Largely dull and uninspired, the album reeks of discarded pieces of solo material that were souped up to sound 'heavy.'"

You all know the story, for is not unlike those read in the annals of literary lore. You see, there was once a great king. He began his rule at age 25, and his kingdom had much wealth and power and a period of much prosperity for a decade. Over time, the king turned dark and cold, which caused one of his chief architects and creators of the kingdom’s main exports to flee to a far and distant land. Twisted by evil, the king ruled with an iron fist for another 16 years. As a result, prosperity declined and he had lost the backing and trust of the people. Infrastructure had become old and unkempt and crumbled apart after his sixteen years of neglect. Still, the king continued to milk the people for tax money while exporting products made without care or oversight. His inner circle, consisting of his queen and daughter, had even usurped power from his remaining architects.

In the 26th year of his rule, the remaining architects become very concerned about a growing people’s rebellion against the failing regime, one hell bent and “dedicated to chaos.” The architects quietly asked the king to abdicate his throne. The king responded by openly and callously telling the people they “sucked.” He blamed his architects for his own transgressions, ordering the people to assassinate them. The people responded with silent laughter, enraging the king who made his own threats against them at knife point. The architects quickly overthrew the tyrant in a popular uprising. Twisted by his own vanity, the ousted ruler built a new castle on the largest hill in the center of the kingdom, declared it the one true kingdom and claimed rule over all the land. He then purchased new loyal architects, plucked among the excommunicated elders of other kingdoms. He ordered them to make new products fashioned from used toiletries and left over scraps of his former kingdom. In response, the true architects, in unity with the people, merely fenced off access, converted it into a largest ever petting zoo and renamed the hill “Mt. Tate.”

In near record time, Geoff Tate was the first to rush to the table of confusion, with his own version of “Queensryche” and the new release “Frequency Unknown.” Largely dull and uninspired, the album reeks of discarded pieces of solo material that were souped up to sound “heavy.” Comparing this to Tate’s solo material, it would actually rank as his best effort to date. However, comparing this to the latest volley of Queensryche albums, including the dreaded “Dedicated to Chaos,” would be like comparing Metallica’s collaborative disaster with Lou Reed (“Lulu”) with “St. Anger” – it all depends how much feces your olfactory senses can tolerate. The album is filled with so much visual foreshadowing, that it only serves to unravel the impending disaster before it even reaches the ears: “Frequency Unknown,” “Fallen,” “Running Backwards,” “Slave,” “Cold.” Lyrically, Tate made sure he filled “FU” with more insufferable innuendos against his former band mates than the title and album art alone suggested.

However, the real failure of “Frequency Unknown” is not completely with the music, but a continual decline in the vocal range of Tate himself. You can make any album as "heavy" as you want, and “FU” has a fair level of crunch, but the vocal performance needs to match any musical fire mustered. Staying in his more comfortable low to mid-range, if Tate had just reached back and “went for it” – it might silence some of the critics who claim he has lost his edge. “Frequency Unknown” does nothing to improve that, and the inclusion of bastardized cover versions of classics “I Don’t Believe In Love,” “Empire,” “Jet City Woman” and “Silent Lucidity” serves only to further prove the point and likely has former guitarist Chris DeGarmo rolling his eyes. Add the lifeless performances in “Dare” and “Give It to You” overlaying musically directionless tracks and I am running for my “Warning” CD.

Is there any saving grace? Sure….the album does have its moments. If played by Chris DeGarmo, “In the Hands of God,” may very well sound like a long lost bonus track from the “Rage for Order” sessions. “Cold” is a decent track, save for the clear “message” to the real Queensryche. “Everything” is by far the best composition on the album, and it would have killed if sung by the 25 year old Tate.

Is this enough to resurrect “Frequency Unknown” and elevate it to something worthy of the name Queensryche? Not hardly. If Tate looked beyond his own vanity, took a whole lot more time, selected a band of real band members and not hired guns and went back to the drawing board with his vocal style – there may exist a glimmer of hope. As it stands, “Frequency Unknown” is just that…a directionless and uninspired album of rehashed solo material and scraps left on the Queensryche cutting floor, which was a classless rush to the finish line out of pure unadulterated ego and slapped with the “Queensryche” name. Fear not, hope arrives in June.

Highs: "In the Eyes of God" and "Everything."

Lows: Uninspiring and dull musical direction with a lifeless vocal performance.

Bottom line: With lifelessness and lack of passion, the performance here is truly a "Frequency Unknown."

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)