Released by: Inside Out Music
Release Date: November 6th, 2012
Genre: Alternative Rock
01. She Slipped Away
02. Take A Bullet
03. In The Dirt
04. Say U Luv It
05. The Way I Roll
08. Dark Money
09. These Glory Days
Remember a little over 10 years ago the former Queensryche lead singer ( a little hard to be saying that) Geoff Tate released his first solo record during some down time from QR. This was around the time where unfortunately for the Ryche they had lost steamed already and their last great record happened to be Promise Land in 1994, some eight years earlier. His particular solo spot was received with lukewarm results, I mean the album wasn’t half bad but it did have a few clunkers and some lesser alternative rock tunes that didn’t really fit into what Tate’s capabilities we’re at the time and despite he’s best strong vocals it appeared they felt short and it was viewed as nothing special.
Forward back to the present and man how much turmoil had this band been through lately huh? You have the whole alleged knife pulling incident that occur as Tate claimed that the other QR band mates told him he would be fired from the band etc etc, this of course led to the feud and his exile (firing) from the band permanently. Then you had the Rocklahoma incident, on top of that both parties are currently in a heated court battle to see who gets to claim the Queensryche moniker and it’s copyright proceedings as we now heading again to a two versions of the same band virus that’s going around lately. All of this is a crying shame for both parties involved as there are plenty of fans who probably have or will bolt for each preferred incarnation since Geoff now has his own version of Queesnryche.
Let’s get to the point here, I am not ashamed to admit I am even to this day a huge Queenryche fan from their early years all the way to Promise Land, after that record I lost faith in the band and for whatever the reason they lost touch with their songwriting and their music, perhaps it was planned, maybe they got bored or uninspired, I don’t know the musical chairs of the genre and music biz could of had something to do with this, is a mystery why they had missed on so many releases in the last 15 years. Even more surprising to me is how they still managed to stick together all along and kept on creating music. But this split perhaps is the best thing that can happen for the band, as you see here Geoff Tate had already material setup for a solo record which you will read my critique of in a minute, and the other QR version has added Crimson Glory singer Todd La Torre and me hoping that they plan on recording new music and as we all know they have already have been hitting the road live for months now, so far the early feedback has been great. So what do we have now, where do we go from here? What’s left for YOU the fan to take in from a solo band by Geoff Tate?
Well shockingly not a stinker of a solo record by Tate. Now I’m not going to call it a return to shape, or a classic QR sound or anything like that NOT EVEN CLOSE, but hell at least is not worse then “Tribe” and “Dedicated to Chaos”. Alright sorry guys cheap shot but let’s be honest here to some degree some fans blame Tate’s songwriting and contribution to the Ryche as one of the reasons why the band has struggled so much the past few years, the truth lies somewhere in between all of those things as I don’t know who manipulated the bulk of the music so I’m not going to point fingers without hard evidence. But to be honest with you with his second solo effort titled “Kings & Thieves” I actually manage to get through all songs without grabbing a gun and shooting my brains out. Let me explain….
First and foremost if you want to listen to anything harder from Tate or QR then stick to Rage for Order and Operation Mindcrime, if you want to judge a solo artist by measuring up this piece of work as a sole entity and not anything else, then you shouldn’t be let down too much. In fact some of the songs on here have an older QR feel with new more alternative rock meets keyboard art rock that the band created long ago. Now let’s not get it twisted kids I’m not saying go order this you won’t be disappointed the album still feels rusty, a bit lethargic and featured it’s numbers of stinkers that don’t move me at all. But compared to the track record of QR lately and their garbage, is not as bad; I’ll just put it like that. A little harsh, sure but I call it like I hear it.
The good news here is that Tate’s vocals don’t sound as half ass as “Dedicated to Chaos”, and that horrendous new alternative, uninspired record if you can call it that. Some of the up beat tunes here come via “Take a Bullet and “In The Dirt” which feature a mix of those mysterious synth keyboards, alongside a touch of Saxophones which we know Tate like’s to throw in there from time to time. The musicianship on these two songs is halfway decent and actually a little groovy which works as it sets the tone of the record early. Unfortunately with some good there comes a wave of bad and on the hipster tune “The Way I Roll” Tate fails as it sounds like a tired brooding piece that leaves much to be desired. The songwriting in “Dark Money” is odd and it doesn’t make sense at all, Tate’s vocals are not bad here but for some freaking reason it sounds like I’m listening to U2 wtf? The finale ends with “Change” a slower ballad art crop that ends the record on a mute tone.
You have to take the good with the bad here, the mood of the songs sound a little too much like the stuff these guys have released the last ten years, the lyrics are not really eye catching, the only thing keeping me entertained we’re the little hints and whistles of old Ryche, ie…the sax, the robotic keyboard, etc. But there is not enough of the “force” the attitude, the balls that Old Queensryche had and that to me is disappointing on so many levels, but not surprising unfortunately.
Maybe I’m bias, although considering I don’t really care too much for anything QR new or old reincarnation have to offer; I beg to differ. The thing here is that with all the bad pub that Tate has gotten as well as the other QR guys, the fans still live in the past and want music that reflects it, problem is that that ship has long sailed for all band members. The split here I hope is for the better and both parties can move on and try different things. Yes it stinks that as a family being together so many years shit hits the fan and everything burns down in flames, but this can a positive Rome wasn’t build in a day, start from scratch and dedicate yourself to the craft once more. If you have it then it’s there no matter how uninspired it may seem, if it’s not then maybe it’s time to close the doors and give it a rest. As for Kings & Thieves is a mix bag of some good, but mostly bleak odd and plane. Is not the worst I heard from Tate, but is not something I would recommend to old QR fans. Listen and make up you own mind. I have and only thing I didn’t have to reach for is a “puke” bag after hearing this one. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad that’s for YOU to decide.
Written by Denys