Since there are now two bands named Queensr˙che, we'll sort out that this is the one led by founding vocalist Geoff Tate, created after he was fired in 2012 and rushed out the tepid solo album Kings & Thieves in the fall. The lineup of Tate's Queensr˙che includes some heavyweight hired guns: bassist Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Whitesnake, ...
Since there are now two bands named Queensr˙che, we'll sort out that this is the one led by founding vocalist Geoff Tate, created after he was fired in 2012 and rushed out the tepid solo album Kings & Thieves in the fall. The lineup of Tate's Queensr˙che includes some heavyweight hired guns: bassist Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot), guitarist Kelly Gray (Queensr˙che 1998-2001), keyboardist Randy Gane, guitarist Robert Sarzo (Quiet Riot), and drummer Simon Wright (AC/DC, Dio). Producer Jason Slater also plays bass here. In addition, Tate enlisted the help of some equally well-known guests on these ten tracks including K.K. Downing (Judas Priest), Ty Tabor (King's X), Craig Locicero (Forbidden), and Paul Bostaph (Slayer) to name a few. In addition to the new tracks are four "bonus cuts," re-recordings of Queensr˙che classics: "Jet City Woman," "Silent Lucidity," "I Don't Believe in Love," and "Empire." Opening track and first single "Cold" (essentially a flip-off to former bandmates) has an enormous Locicero riff that recalls the band's glory days. "Dare" offers crisp drumming, excellent guitar work, and a killer bridge. But not all the news here is good. As a whole, Frequency Unknown suffers from subpar, muddy sound, which basically mars the entire record. Tate's voice is often pushed toward the mid-level of the mix instead of up front where it belongs. What, after all, is a Queensr˙che record without him wailing right up front? He's still got a hell of a voice from what we can hear of it here. On the plus side, there are some terrific songs, including "Life Without You," "Fallen," and "The Weight of the World," which are well-crafted prog metal tunes, and some killer rockers such as "Slave" and "Running Backwards," but their barely present vocals and muddy guitar sounds kill their impact. The re-recordings of classic tracks were totally unnecessary. The bottom line on Frequency Unknown is that while it's easy to understand why Tate would want to be the first to issue a recording under that band's name in order to claim legitimacy (especially since there are lawsuits involved from both sides), it was recorded with lack of a real recording budget -- at least for a Queensr˙che album. The fault for this may lie with Dead Line's parent label, Cleopatra, whose catalog is notorious for sketchy sound quality, and here it really shows. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi
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